Emotions ran high as the Jaguars celebrated retired linebacker Paul Posluszny's career on Monday.
The 11-year veteran decided to retire in March but was offered a special tribute on the first day of the team's offseason conditioning program. Former teammate, Jaguars weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith, fought back tears as he introduced his close friend to a large crowd in the team's meeting room.
"Just know, I've never met a better man than you," Smith said, pointing to Posluszny.
"I've never had a better teammate than you. I don't think I've ever been able to say someone loves me who I didn't do something for [other] than you. And I promise you, I promise you, I promise you, I won't let you down. And I feel like that last game, we let you down, so I dedicate this next season to you and I promise you I'm going to lay it down."
The meeting room was filled with former teammates, co-workers and executives. Defensive end Calais Campbell, wide receiver Keelan Cole, linebacker Myles Jack and general manager Dave Caldwell were among those in attendance to honor Posluszny.
Following heartwarming speeches from Smith and Posluszny, former teammates honored the retiring leader on social media.
Several other former teammates and coaches also praised Posluszny through statements released by the team.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone:
“From the second I stepped foot inside EverBank Field in January 2015, it was very easy to see the impact and legacy that Paul Posluszny was making on the Jaguars and the City of Jacksonville. He exemplifies everything that it means to be a true professional. He came in every single day with the intention of improving as a football player and aiding in the development of those around him. That is so unique in the National Football League and something that has earned Poz endless respect from every coach he played for and every teammate he played with. What blows me away the most about Paul wasn’t his tireless work ethic or his leadership qualities as a five-time defensive captain in Jacksonville, it’s the incredibly high bar that he set for himself and always strived to meet and raise during his 11-year NFL career. All the best to Poz and his family.”
Former Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew:
“First of all, congratulations on a great career. Paul means a lot to me. Paul inspired myself and so many of his teammates with his professionalism and his detailed routine. No matter how well we played or how poorly we played, Paul brought an even-keeled attitude to our locker room. When people ask me what I miss the most about the game, I tell them it is the one-on-one field drills, especially with Poz, who ‘never held me obviously,’ and our daily conversations about life. This year was special for me watching Paul play with so much passion and joy, and to cap it off, he was able to experience playoff football for the first time in his storied career. I’d like to wish Paul the best in his future endeavors and let him know I love him and appreciate him.”
Former Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith:
“I'd like to congratulate Paul on his great career. I remember when he first came to Jacksonville and immediately realized how hard he worked and what type of player and man he was. This was evident as soon as he arrived. Not too many NFL players have accomplished the things he has in his career. I'm just glad that I had the opportunity to play next to him for the time that we did.”
Former Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis:
“Poz was always a quiet assassin. He wasn’t too talkative and only spoke when necessary. In the NFL, you have athletes that play football, and then you have Poz, a true football player. He’s a pro’s pro, one of the best men or people you can find.”
Jaguars strength and conditioning coach Tom Myslinski
"Poz is one of the greatest professional athletes that I have ever been around, from the way he conducts himself as a person, to how he carries himself within the building and to how he deals with his teammates. He is a ‘pro’s pro’ and it has been my honor to coach him and to be his friend. It is his attention to detail and work ethic that sets him apart. From his study habits to workout habits, to how he prepped and prepared for practice, and even to how he cooled down after practices or workouts. He was and will be my example to every athlete that comes in through those weight room doors of how to be a professional athlete. The first time I met Myles Jack I told him, ‘You have one of the greatest examples of what it takes to be a successful professional athlete. His name is Paul Posluszny. Mimic what he does and you will have a long, successful career in the NFL.’”
Former Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley:
“Poz, congratulations on your retirement from the NFL. It was a privilege to share our time together with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Your leadership and ability to help others, both on and off the field, has had a profound impact, not only on me, but on so many other coaches and players during your incredible football career. I feel fortunate to have experienced your competitive spirit firsthand. You always led by example and because of that, you possessed a unique ability to instantly inspire those around you. There are no words to truly reflect the impact that you had on all the organizations and communities you were a part of during your time in the NFL. To say you’ll be missed is beyond an understatement. May the next phase of your life bring you and your family endless happiness; you’ve more than earned that. I genuinely appreciate you and wish you nothing but the best.”
Former Jaguars linebackers coach Robert Saleh:
“Having the privilege to coach Paul for three years in Jacksonville will always be one of my greatest experiences. His passion and relentless pursuit to be his personal best every single day was unmatched. His style of play was the epitome of the ‘All Gas, No Brake’ mentality and he took so much pride in doing his job to the best of his ability. Paul’s selfless leadership left an impression on everyone in the organization, as well as in the community. His work ethic both on and off the field not only impacted his fellow teammates, but everyone associated with the Jaguars, including myself. Paul is a man who holds everyone in high regard and this quality will be why he continues to have great success as he enters the next chapter of his life. I wish him and his family nothing but the best and I look forward to the day that we ride again.”
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter: @Mike_E_Kaye.