After 11 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, defensive tackle Chris Hoke is hanging up his cleats for good.
Hoke signed with the Steelers in 2001 as an undrafted free agent out of Brigham Young University. Though mainly playing the role of backup to defensive tackle Casey Hampton throughout his career, Hoke did manage to make an impact on the Steeler franchise.
Out of the 114 games that he played, Hoke only has started in 18 of them, but Pittsburgh has a record of 17-1 when he was in the starting lineup. In addition, the veteran defensive lineman recorded 83 tackles, two sacks, and one fumble recovery while wearing the black and gold. Hoke also contributed to the Steelers’ three trips to the Super Bowl, two of which they won. Most importantly, Hoke led by example in the locker room, spreading a positive attitude amongst his teammates.
This past season, Hoke sustained a neck injury that limited him to just playing in six games, which required season-ending surgery. It was this injury that seemed to give Hoke a dose of reality. Hoke’s feelings about his retirement were expressed on www.steelers.com.
“I never really got hurt my first 10 years, except for some dings here and there,” said Hoke. “I had a couple of big injuries this year. It made me put things in perspective. I think the man upstairs was talking to me. It was time for me to move on. I started to think about my wife and my children, and what was important. I am getting older. I’ve played 11 great years for an awesome organization, and now it’s time to move on.
“I think everything happens for a reason, but I am glad I went out playing well. I gave everything I had to this game. I have no regrets. I am blessed to be able to go out on a high note like that.”
Even though Hoke is looking forward to life after football, he admits that there are some things that he will miss.
“Being around these guys in this building on a daily basis,” said Hoke. “You talk to any retired player they’ll say the one thing they miss is being in the locker room, being around the guys, the camaraderie. I think that is the one thing I am already missing, and it’s just the beginning.”
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