(CBS) Bears long snapper Patrick Mannelly, the longest-tenured player in franchise history, will announce his retirement today.
The 39-year-old Mannelly has been the team's long snapper for the past 16 seasons and has a remarkable streak of 2,282 plays without a botched snap. After underdoing offseason hip surgery, Mannelly had been mulling retirement all offseason, weighing his health and whether he could continue at the highest level. As a sign of respect and a nod to Mannelly's skill, the Bears gave him all the time he wanted to decide.
"It's difficult to talk about Patrick as a player in the past tense," Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said. "He played more seasons than any other Bear. He played in more games than any other Bear. And every season, every game, he was a pro's pro. He was a captain, someone his teammates looked up to and sought guidance, direction and inspiration, and he provided it."
Mannelly had been a Bears captain for the past six seasons. His 245 games are a franchise record.
"We are losing a great person and a great player, one who will always remain a Bear in our hearts," Bears general manager Phil Emery said.
The Bears drafted Mannelly out of Duke in the sixth round of the 1998 NFL Draft.
"That guy is probably the greatest long snapper to ever play the game," Bears kicker Robbie Gould told the Tribune.
Chad Rempel and Brandon Hartson are the other two long snappers competing for the job.
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