At the eve of NFL Free Agency, 12-year veteran guard Steve Hutchinson from the Tennessee Titans retired from the game of professional football. During his tenure in the league Hutchinson played a key role in opening holes for the three NFL league leading rushers, including Chris Johnson, former Seattle Seahawks NFL MVP Shaun Alexander and reigning MVP Minnesota Vikings All-Pro Adrian Peterson.
Although Hutchinson spent the twilight of his career in the Music City, his leadership and experience were invaluable in developing the Titans’ two bookend tackles, Michael Roos and David Stewart.
The Titans acquired Hutchinson to help shore up a diminutive offensive line and help pave the way for their franchise running back. Hutchinson played an intricate role in opening holes for Johnson who rushed for 1,243 yards and six touchdowns. Not one to ever seek praise or accolades, his commitment to his craft and to his team never wavered.
In a day an age where professional athletes are obsessed with making headlines and obtaining individual accolades, Hutchinson was truly an exception. His workman-like approach to the game reminded many of Titans’ offensive line coach Bruce Matthews and Titans’ head coach Mike Munchak, who were both inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.
His decision to retire on the eve of free agency is yet another example of the five time First Team All-Pro putting the team before himself. Hutchinson’s contract was due to count $6.75 million against the Titans’ salary cap, including $5.25 million in 2013 pay. But by retiring before the start of the free agent frenzy he forfeited a $500,000 bonus, left behind $3 million, and gave the Titans an additional $3.75 million to spend to improve the team.
Although Hutchinson’s final block did not lead to a touchdown, his selflessness has played a key role in Titans general manager Ruston Webster overhauling the offensive line and addressing other team needs. So as the Titans welcome their new guard in Andy Levitre, please do not forget how their old guard Hutchinson paved the way for brighter days in the Music City.