JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Paul Posluszny returned to EverBank Field on Monday, but unlike his former teammates, the veteran linebacker wasn't there to take part in the team's offseason conditioning program.
Posluszny, 33, announced his retirement from the NFL in March. His return to the stadium made the retirement official with a ceremonial sendoff presentation.
Posluszny joined the Jaguars in 2011 after spending four seasons with the Buffalo Bills. The former second-round pick then spent sevens seasons with the Jaguars. Last season was the lone winning campaign of Posluszny's 11-year career in the NFL.
While Posluszny didn't win a lot of games, he did win over his teammates. Ultimately, his legacy will be defined by his desire to mentor his younger teammates.
"I wanted to do everything the right way and help guys on a one-on-one basis as much I [could] and show them that if you want longevity [in the NFL], this is the way it can be done," Posluszny said, reflecting on his approach to leadership.
"[I led] much more by example but that got more important - the older I got - because then you realize that what matters most is going to be serving others or helping others, helping your teammates. That's where you have a lasting impact."
Posluszny was a selfless leader during his tenure with the Jaguars. He put his team before himself on multiple occasions.
It was that outlook that inspired others - like fellow linebacker Telvin Smith - to buy into Posluszny's leadership.
"I saw this guy tear his [pectoral muscle] and the next play, keep going," Smith said during his tearful introduction speech.
"I don't even know if yall understand what that means, he tore it off the bone. A lot of people don't know how to take that type of pain, but he took it, and he went in again. They had to pull him out of the game."
Posluszny and Smith were extremely close during their time together on the field. When Smith was drafted in 2014, Posluszny took the young linebacker under his wing.
Despite being from completely different backgrounds, the two players bonded over their shared love for the game.
"There are conversations that we've had that will affect me - and that you all see - when you see growth in me," Smith said, fighting back tears. "Forever and ever and ever, his legacy will live on through what he has done here. I love him, I appreciate him."
Posluszny's relationships in the locker room will be what he misses most about his NFL career. The former Pro Bowl linebacker doesn't know how he will replicate the bonds he has built within the Jaguars' organization.
"The different personalities, the different approaches we have, but knowing at the end of the day, that regardless of where we're from, where you grew up, where you went to college, none of that mattered because we knew we were completely dedicated towards each other and we would do anything for each other to help this team win," Posluszny said. "The great fear of mine is that I don't know where to find that in the rest of society."
Posluszny produced 1,214 tackles, 16 sacks and 15 interceptions during his career. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2013. His long career was capped by a playoff run to the AFC Championship Game.
Now that he is done with football, he plans to attend graduate school. Instead of teaching his younger teammates, he will be learning new things in the classroom.
Despite his return to academia, Posluszny hasn't ruled out a return to the sidelines as a coach. Taking up the coaching mantle would allow Posluszny to continue his pursuit of helping younger players achieve growth within the NFL.
"We'll see, I guess it's too early to tell," Posluszny said, regarding a future in coaching. "I wouldn't be opposed to it, let me put it that way."
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter: @Mike_E_Kaye.