9:18am: The Bears have officially confirmed news of Mannelly’s retirement, via a press release.
“Our family is very grateful for all he has done,” Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said of Mannelly, in a statement. “Not just for the way he’s played on the field, but the way he has carried himself off the field. He’s the epitome of what a Chicago Bear is all about. We’ll miss having him in uniform and wish him the best.”
8:40am: Patrick Mannelly may not be a household name around the NFL, or even in Chicago, but no player in Bears history has played more games for the club over the course of his career than the veteran long snapper. That time will come to an end this year, however, as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports that Mannelly will announce his retirement today.
Mannelly, 39, entered the league back in 1998 as a sixth-round draft pick out of Duke. Since then, he has appeared in 245 total regular-season contests as Chicago’s long snapper. Mannelly, who has been a team captain for the last six years, had hoped to return for a 17th season after undergoing hip surgery, but maintained that he would have to feel right and feel as if he could still play at an elite level, writes Biggs.
“Pat was great,” Bears kicker Robbie Gould said on Thursday. “Those are tough shoes to fill. That guy is probably the greatest long snapper to ever play the game. Trying to fill those shoes … those guys can’t even think about that. It’s not that it is not possible, it’s something they shouldn’t be worried about.”
“Those guys” who will vie for the long snapper job will be Chad Rempel and Brandon Hartson, who have been competing at the position during the team’s spring practices.