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Sports Illustrated: The NFL Cast Him Out; He Says That Only Makes Him More Powerful (Offensive lineman and NFLPA president JC Tretter retires)


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Was surprised to read that JC Tretter was retiring from the NFL today.  Was a great Center when healthy in Green Bay, and from what I've read, he's been pretty durable in Cleveland.  Sounds like his work as union president has made him the enemy of team owners who are all-too-happy to see him out of the league rather than improving their teams.  He has a degree in Industrial Labor Relations from Cornell, and apparently he plans on serving out his remaining year and a half of term as NFLPA President with even more vigor now that he has nothing but free time on his hands.



“Guys would be like, ‘Oh, like how are your knees doing?’” Tretter, now 31, recalls. “And I always said, ‘My NFLPA job is gonna end my career well before my knees end my career.’”

That fateful time, he feels, has finally come. Released by the Browns in mid-March, four days after he was elected to a second two-year term as president of the NFL Players Association, Tretter hit free agency intending to return for a 10th campaign before retiring. His “short list” of dream destinations was topped by the Panthers, as he has a longstanding relationship with offensive line coach James Campen; the Cowboys, “because I feel like if you’re going to play one last year, that environment would be fun”; and the Vikings, because he cheered for them as a child and “wanted to put a bow on my childhood.” But, Tretter says, none of the seven teams that his camp contacted reciprocated his interest. “Minnesota never returned our call,” he says.

In Tretter’s estimation, finding the reason for this radio silence isn’t difficult. He describes his salary requests as modest, “not at a vet minimum” but “well below the value I bring.” He says his right knee is “fully ready” for game action, having healed itself of the swelling issue by Week 8 last season and requiring no more draining for the rest of the season. Plus, Tretter adds, no club has so much as requested an MRI or a physical to inspect it. This despite Pro Football Focus ranking him as the league’s fifth-best center entering this season.

And then there is how Tretter’s agent explained the lack of movement: “I got a call in mid June,” Tretter says, “and it was like, ‘I didn’t realize how many people you pissed off.’”

(In an emailed statement, NFL vice president of communications Brian McCarthy described Tretter as “a relentless and passionate advocate for all NFL players”; asked for specific comment on Tretter’s belief that his union role factored into his lack of a contract, McCarthy replied, “JC is a free agent eligible to sign with any team. We would refer you to the clubs for any comment.” The Vikings declined to comment; the Panthers and Cowboys did not respond.)

Friends, family and fellow members of union leadership are “frustrated” and “bothered” at Tretter’s ongoing lack of a deal, he says. As his former Cleveland linemate Joel Bitonio recently told reporters at Browns training camp: “When you have a guy that’s top-five, top-10 at center in the league and he’s not on a roster, and he's the NFLPA president … it seems a little suspicious to me.”

Sitting down for breakfast at a Washington, D.C., hotel earlier this month, Tretter admits for a time feeling “somewhat vindictive” toward all the teams who passed on him. “There are teams right now that I would say are desperate for a center based off how camp’s going,” he says. "Still no calls.” But, he continues, his desire to return has faded. “I’ve gotten to the point where I’m going to retire,” he says. “I know what I’ve accomplished in my career and I’m at peace with that.” If some desperate team called tomorrow, he adds, he’d pass.

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On 9/25/2022 at 11:27 PM, Tsailand said:

He was blackballed harder than anyone since Kap.

Yeah.  I'd go on a limb and say it may be even harder than Kaep given Kaep kind of fell off a cliff in performance before the blackballing, meanwhile Tretter was still one of the top in the league at his position.  I'd like to see him him sue the league like Kaepernick did, but this time not accept a settlement and really rake them over the coals.

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