Longwell doesn't deserve ridicule for retiring with Packers, even after Vikings tenure
John Rehor, Packers contributor
Ryan Longwell. Photo: Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
GREEN BAY - What does it mean to "retire?" To the average person, retiring is that point in one’s life where they no longer need to work anymore.
Whether it is because of good fortune, advancing age, or a series of circumstances, retirement is often seen as a culmination of a life of hard work, and when that time arrives, the individual is celebrated for their accomplishments during their career.
For NFL players who are fortunate enough to play for many years, retiring should be no different - a chance to look back on their accomplishments as they walk away from the game.
But as Ryan Longwell found out this week, as others have before him and countless others will in the future, to retire in the NFL often brings out the worst in certain people.
Rather than reflecting on a solid career from a player, it brings up bad memories and aims nasty comments at the player.
When Ryan Longwell left Green Bay, he put more than his foot in his mouth on his way to Minnesota.
His Applebee’s comment placed Longwell’s entire leg in his mouth as a parting shot at the town where he had spent the previous nine seasons.
Going to the Vikings certainly didn’t help matters in the eyes of the Packer faithful.
So when it was announced this week that Longwell was going to head back to Green Bay to retire as a member of the Packers, a team he had not played for in seven years, it was met with resistance by some, and anger by others.
There were some who did not want anything to do with Longwell retiring as a Packer. After all, he spent six seasons kicking for the hated Vikings.
He should be banished to the Metrodome forever for making a BUSINESS decision to sign with the Vikings, right?
Apparently it does not matter that he holds Packers team records in field goals made and field goal percentage.
Retiring as a member of a certain team means going back to the place which most felt like home, the place where you want to be remembered, the team you want to be most identified with for all time.
Some of the reaction was so strong that there was conversation that Longwell does not even belong in the Packers Hall of Fame - one of the ultimate honors for anyone who has ever suited up in the green and gold.
How many people really remember Edgar Bennett suiting up for the Bears a mere two seasons after winning a Super Bowl with the Packers?
How about Jim Taylor playing out the rest of his career with the New Orleans Saints?
Or Vince Lombardi? He coached the Redskins after leaving the Packers.
Even the founder of the Packers, Curly Lambeau, coached the Cardinals and Redskins after being ousted by the Packers.
These are just a few examples of people who went on to coach and play for other teams, yet are synonymous with the Packers.
Business may have dictated that they needed to leave Green Bay for one reason or another, but will always be remembered as a member of the Packers.
The same holds true for Ryan Longwell.
He may have kicked wearing purple and yellow for a few years, but he wants to be remembered for the time he spent in green and gold.
He should be welcomed back as he walks away from the game.
It may be impossible to forget his playing for a hated rival like the Vikings, but it is possible to remember the great player he was for the Packers.
Welcome home Ryan Longwell, and congratulations on a very successful NFL career.