Marpet walks away from Bucs, NFL

by Gary Shelton on March 1, 2022

in general

Marpet's retirement caught everyone by surprsie./CARMEN MANDATO

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

He is walking away from the cheers. For an offensive lineman, Ali Marpet always heard his share of those. He was the kid who came from nowhere, an unheard of prospect from an unemotional college (Hobart) who was more delivery than promise.

He is walking from the money. Over seven years, according to Spotrac, Marpet has made almost 37 1/2 million dollars. His contract calls for more than $20 million the next two seasons. After that, he would be in prime earning years, and you can only guess at what he would have made ($60 million over five years? $75 million? More?).

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He is walking away from the spotlight, and from the camaraderie of a locker room. He is walking away from his Hall of Fame years, the years when a player proves if he is immortal. He is walking away from the rush a guy gets when he sees a kid wearing his jersey number. He is walking away from the Shield, which a lot of players cannot bear to do. he is walking away while he can still walk.

And bullly for him.

We are selfish about this stuff. Games amuse us, fascinate us, entrhall us. And so we wonder how anyone could tear themselves away from such a life. For crying out loud, Marpet is 28. Tom Brady is almsot 45, and peole aren't convinced he can turn loose of the life.

But Market has had concussions, and that can end badly. Playing offensive guard, and slamming your head into those of 350-pounders, is a tough way to make a living. And so it is hard to blame Marpet for turning away.

Heck, Lluke Kueckly was 28 when he retired. So was Gale Sayers. Jim Brown was 29, as was Andrew Luck. Lee Roy Selmon was 30. Calvin Johnson, too. And Patrick Willis. And Lynn Swann. And Earl Campbell. Barry Sandes was 31. Frankly, a lot of players should have been done by the time they were 30.

Oh, I know. If you're a Bucs' fan, this was disaster from above. No one saw Marpet's retirement coming. He figured to have another decade in front of him.

And now? For the time being, at least, the Bucs look like a team that is unraveling. The Bucs' other Pro Bowl linemen -- Ryan Jensen and Alex Cappa -- are free agents. So is Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette and Jason Pierre-Paul and Carlton Davis.Brady, too, doesn't figure to be back, which leaves the team in the wobbly hands of Blaine Gabbert.

So here's the question. How do all of the potential departures look at Marpet's retirement? Do they think it is time to choose between a different jersey or going down with the ship?

Look at this way. General manger Jason Licht got great credit for bringing so many veterans back last year. That was easy compared to replacing them.

As far as Marpet, it's hard to be overly disappointed. He was a Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl winner and one of the finest offensive linemen the Bucs have had (who eslse? Paul Gruber?)

He'll be missed. A lot.

Hopefully, he'll be healthy enough to miss it himself.

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