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Bears’ long snapper Patrick Mannelly retires after 16 seasons

Patrick Mannelly’s 16 survived cuts is most Bears history. | Sun-Times Library

Patrick Mannelly’s 16 survived cuts is the most in Bears history. | Sun-Times Library

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Updated: July 22, 2014 6:13AM



Long snapper Patrick Mannelly always did listen well.

For 16 years and 245 games — the longest tenure of any Bears player in history — Mannelly, 39, was a bastion of stability as he watched more than 750 players come and go. He took the same calm approach after having hip surgery Jan. 23, knowing general manager Phil Emery had made him a standing offer to return if he felt healthy enough to do so.

‘‘I said I’d listen to my body,’’ Mannelly said. ‘‘And my body’s tapping me on the back and saying: ‘That’s it, bud. I think you’re done.’ ’’

His retirement Friday transcended his accomplishments on the field, even as his career spanned a generation. Selected in the sixth round out of Duke in 1998, Mannelly was the last active Bears draft pick made by the late Mark Hatley. At the time, running back Ka’Deem Carey, whom the Bears picked last month, was 5.

Mannelly played for four of the 17 coaches in Bears history.

‘‘It’s difficult to talk about Patrick as a player in the past tense,’’ chairman George McCaskey said in a statement.

Mannelly took a mental snapshot before his first regular-season snap, looking between his legs at punter Todd Sauerbrun in Week 1 of the 1998 season against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He did it again
in January 2007, when the Bears won the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field.

Now, Mannelly joked, his Sundays will be less stressful.

‘‘The one thing I did think is, I won’t be staring out my window before the game to see how bad
the wind’s blowing at Soldier Field,’’ he said.

Mannelly said he still is having
issues with his hip, which has bothered him for eight years. His left knee, which required surgery in 2011, is starting to hurt again, too.

‘‘I feel 39 years old,’’ he said.

Mannelly said he came to the decision to retire while rehabbing in San
Diego for two weeks without his family. It gave him time to think.

‘‘It was a peace,’’ Mannelly said. ‘‘It was almost like a weight came off my shoulders.’’

Mannelly logged 2,282 career snaps, and his 81 special-teams tackles are third-most by a Bears player since the stat began being kept in 1995.

Mannelly ‘‘was the best at what he did for 16 years,’’ said former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, who played golf alongside Mannelly in the Encompass Championship pro-am Friday at North Shore Country Club in Glenview. ‘‘The only time you notice [long snappers] is when they screw up. And you never noticed Pat, which is good.’’

Kicker Robbie Gould assured Mannelly the two snappers battling to replace him — Chad Rempel and Brandon Hartson — were NFL-ready.

‘‘I know it can be a difficult job
to do from college to the pros,’’ Mannelly said, ‘‘so I just want to make sure Robbie and the punters are good.’’

Mannelly has been there before. Before his final year at Duke, two of his coaches — one, Joe DeLamielleure, is a Pro Football Hall of Famer — told him he could play in the NFL if he honed his snapping skills. His then-girlfriend, Tamara — with whom he celebrated his 16th anni-
versary Friday — was skeptical about a career as a specialist.

‘‘Her quote was, ‘That’s a job?’ ’’ Mannelly said.

More than any player in Bears history, Mannelly made it a career.

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @patrickfinley



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