Right tackle Jon Stinchcomb was a model player for the New Orleans Saints, the kind that is rare to find in today’s NFL — a true locker room leader — and one that became Drew Brees best friend during their five seasons together.
Stinchcomb though wasn’t himself after his 2009 Pro Bowl campaign — battling a torn quad tendon for most of the 2010 season — he was criticized heavily for his declining play and nearly league high number of penalties.
In fact Stinchcomb surrendered a career high seven sacks and eight penalties over the course of the 2010 season.
This off-season he would undergo knee surgery to repair the tend0n injury, which occurred during the Saints week seven match-up against the Cleveland Browns last year.
Admittedly Stinchcomb was not at 100 hundred percent when training camp kicked off in extreme late July. He sat some practices to rest the knee, started against the 49ers in the preseason, and was abruptly released shortly thereafter.
His play still had not returned to satisfactory levels in the Saints eyes, and with two young tackles waiting in the wings (Charles Brown, Zach Strief) the Saints made a football decision that cut everyone deep.
The leader of the offensive line, one of the longest tenured Saints, and a Pro Bowler was suddenly gone. Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis certainly didn’t want to release him, nor did Drew Brees want to see him go, but in the end it was the best move for the Saints.
Jon Stinchcomb had been the teams starter at right tackle since 2006 when Sean Payton took over the team. He was drafted in the second round by the Saints (37th overall) during the 2003 draft and was one of the last carry-overs from the Jim Haslett era.
Who knows for sure why Stinchcomb has decided to retire. Maybe the injuries are just too much, maybe interest from other teams is waining, or maybe he just doesn’t want to play for any other team but the Saints.
Player loyalty in today’s NFL is scarce at best, with most players tending to follow the all mighty dollar when deciding what team to suit up for on Sunday. That’s not to say you can blame them given the risks of playing professional football.
It may seem like fairy tale that a player would choose retirement over playing for another team, but that’s Jon Stinchcomb, character all the way and loyal to the end.
I wouldn’t be surprised if his decision to retire was heavily influenced by no longer being a Saint, and I am sure one day he will make his motivations clear, but all that’s left to do now is say goodbye — good luck big guy.