Tackle Chris Samuels Retirement Press Conference
Owner Daniel Snyder (Opening Remarks):
“Thank you for coming today, ten years ago we drafted Chris Samuels. We first met him at a barbeque restaurant and he said ‘I want to be a Redskin.’ He said, ‘I’ll give it my all. You will never regret drafting me. I’ll be a team leader. You can count on me.’ We said great. We picked him with the third pick in the draft. There is a few funny stories along the way. After we drafted him, we brought him down here and we were celebrating and someone handed him a cigar and he had never smoked a cigar until then. He got sick for his press conference. [He] came down and started with a bang and had a fantastic representation and career with us. We are so, so proud to have had Chris on the field and off the field. He has been a team leader, six Pro Bowls and off the field, I am going to keep this short and let Chris have has day, the one word that defines Chris Samuels is Chris has always been a gentleman. Chris has been a true gentleman and class act. We are just lucky to have him play for us and we’re looking forward to him always being a lifelong Redskin and hopefully remaining part of our club for the next several decades and with that, Chris, it is your day, congratulations.”
“It’s kind of crazy, I play in front of the fans every Sunday and I am really not nervous. I just got out there and do my thing. It’s a must harder crowd in here today and I’m really nervous so bear with me a little bit. First of all, I would like to give honor to God for giving me a great career. Without him I couldn’t have done anything. If it wasn’t because of the neck injury, I would be going into my 11th season with the Washington Redskins. I truly love playing for this organization. It’s just a great place. Everybody is like family here. A lot of people have been praying for me to receive a miracle but they really don’t realize I received my miracle when I got off of the field in North Carolina.
“I would like to thank my parents, you truly blessed me throughout my life just teaching me the right things to do. I would like to thank my girlfriend who has supported me even though I know it has been tough at times, tough to deal with me, I appreciate that. My godfather, Pearl, you have been praying with me since college when I met you, sticking by me, telling me when I was wrong. Pastor Chad, great church, Temple Hill and Waters, I enjoyed going there and learning about the Lord. Jimmy [Sexton, agent], it’s been a ball, if I had to make this decision over again, I would definitely go with you again. You have done a great job for me and I appreciate that, everybody at ARM. All of my friends and family, I appreciate you guys coming out and supporting me. Randy [Thomas], all you guys, you know I love you all. Stephon [Heyer], love picking on you throughout the years, but I love you, don’t take it hard.
“Mr. Snyder and the ownership party, I appreciate you guys for being great bosses and Mrs. Snyder as well. A lot of people ask me, what type of guy is Mr. Snyder? I tell them he is a compassionate and caring person. About two years ago, my brother was in a serious car accident down in Tampa, Florida and all of the flights that night were out so we couldn’t get to him immediately. Mr. Snyder called me and said ‘whatever you need I am there for you.’ Mr. Snyder provided a plane about an hour later to take me and my family down there. I actually have family in Alabama and have family in Atlanta. They picked us up and when we landed, we had a car service provided. He just didn’t stop there. He actually called me at 3 or 4 a.m., every other hour just checking, just to see if my brother was fine. The good Lord brought my brother through, I thank God for that. Thank you Mr. Snyder, not only have you been a great boss, you have been a great friend.
“I would like to thank the PR department, Zack [Bolno] you do an awesome job. The training room, Larry [Hess], Eric [Steward] and Elliott [Jermyn], I know it has been rough dealing with me, I love to joke on you guys and pick on you. I have had 12 surgeries, it’s been rough. Every time you guys would put me back together and stick me back on the field and I would play well and it’s because of you guys, I appreciate that.
“There have been many coaches that have impacted my career: Coach Calloway, my offensive line coach in college, he’s done a great job molding and shaping me into the player that I am today; Norv Turner, who drafted me; Russ Grimm, congrats on the Hall of Fame; Marty Schottenheimer; Coach (Joe) Pendry, congrats on the National Championship at the University of Alabama; Coach (Joe) Gibbs, and Coach (Joe) Bugel. I tell you, Coach Bugel, it’s been a ball working with that guy. It’s been rough, he stayed on us when things were going good and we thought we could get relaxed. He stayed on top of us and just kept pushing us harder and harder. Some days in that room it was kind of crazy. I remember one particular story where Coach Bugel was upset about a game that we played and he slammed a water bottle down in the trashcan and I was sitting in the front row, so the water bottle splashed me directly in the face. I was upset, and I started to get up and walk out of the room, but right at that moment I looked around the room – the water bottle had skidded over the whole room, everybody’s wiping water out of their face. So everybody laughed and we kind of joked about that. I love those guys, all of those coaches they definitely helped me throughout my career. A lot of guys that I played with, I really appreciate those guys. Especially guys like Randy Thomas, Derrick Dockery, Ladell Betts, Jason Campbell, Rock Cartwright, all of those guys are true pros, and I enjoy playing with them. Randy, I still owe you for the cake to the face man, so don’t get caught sleeping, I may sneak up on you and get you back.
“All of the guys that are coming back to the Redskins for this upcoming season, I wish you guys the best of luck. Don’t take it for granted, man. Look at my situation and one play could be your last, so just keep pushing to be the best you can be. I challenge you guys with that. I know the organization will be in good hands with Bruce Allen, and also Coach (Mike) Shanahan. Those guys have been around and they know what to do, they’ll lead you guys in the right direction. I would like to thank the Redskins staff, and all the departments within the organization that do all the things behind the scenes to make this place a little easier to work. I want to give a special thanks to Ms. BJ [Blanchard], I see you sitting over there. Ms. BJ, it’s been a ball. Everyday I come in and it’s almost like a mother away from home. You’re always doing things to make it a little bit easier for all of the players, and I appreciate that. I want to give another special thanks to Vlady [Martinez] and Roberto [Paz]. They’re always keeping the facilities clean and making everything comfortable for everyone. I want to give a special thanks to the media for always respecting me and covering me throughout the years. I want to give a special thanks to Channel 4 and Comcast because they knew about my decision weeks ago and respected my wishes to keep it quiet so that I could announce it on my own terms. Sometimes it’s not about the story, but it’s about the relationship. Thank you.
“To the fans, I love you guys. It’s been real. Its been a long time, you know for me to be out here, just going out on the field and playing in front of 90,000 people is just a great experience, and 10 years of it, it’s been a lot of fun. I truly believe you guys are the best fans in the NFL.
“It’s going to be hard to walk away from the game that I love, but it’s the best decision for my family and me. I was born with a neck condition called stenosis. When I get hit a certain way, I lose power in my upper extremities which is what happened to me last season against Carolina. Some doctors predicted I would only play six or seven years in the NFL, but here I am 10 years later having attended six Pro Bowls - God has truly been good to me. Mentally, I’ve been preparing for this a long time so don’t y’all feel sorry for me. I always said after I retired, I’d want to coach and that’s my next move. One piece of advice I leave my teammates is to put everything you have into it. You’ve been blessed to be able to continue to go out there and play. I wish you guys the best. I’ll be praying for you. And just go out there and win a championship. That’s one thing I regret is never winning a championship. That’s probably the only thing I regret. I never got there. We made the playoffs two times in 10 years. You guys still have that opportunity. Work hard in the offseason, do the proper things it takes to be a champion, be disciplined and listen to the coaches; and coaches, push them and I know you will.”
On when he came to peace with his decision to retire:
“I pretty much knew a long time ago. I was at peace with it. I found out I had the condition in high school. I hit a guy and everything went paralyzed on me; not only did I lose power in my upper extremities, but also my lower extremities. I was carted off on the stretcher and taken to the hospital. Some doctors told me not to play again and it was pretty devastating. I went and got some more opinions and they told me that I could go out there and play and it’s been a blessed career. I’ve known about it and I’m not really devastated about it. Just to get 10 years out of it, play at a high level and play with a great group of guys, I’m honored to have been able to play and I’m happy with my career.”
On what happened on the particular play in Carolina:
“I collided with a defensive lineman. It was helmet-to-helmet, right on the crown of the head. Right when I hit him, everything went numb up top and I fell over and I knew I had had another episode. I went on the sideline, prayed about it, thought about going back in the game. The Lord led me to sit tight and I did. That’s pretty much it.”
On when he last met with a doctor and why he waited until now to announce his retirement:
“I met right after I was injured. I went out and saw a specialist in L.A. and a specialist here in the area; that was months ago during the season and they wanted to do a follow-up later on so I wound up doing that a few weeks ago just to see if anything had changed and gotten better. Nothing had, so that’s when I made the final decision to walk away.”
On if he had similar hits to the one this season in Carolina during his time in the NFL:
“I’ve had maybe three or four since I’ve been in the NFL. I was young then and eager to play the game, and I still am now, but after I looked at the x-rays this last time it seemed to be getting worse so it was the best decision for me to walk away from the game.”
On how much this condition was on his mind when he was playing:
“I would pray about it and just go out there and play. I think one or two years it seemed to be like a fear was coming over me before games, but once I prayed about it, stepped on the field and took that first hit, I would be fine. I just prayed about it with my friends and family and the fear went away. I just went out there and had a lot of confidence that the good Lord would take care of me and He truly did.”
On where he would like to coach, here, or in Alabama:
“I’ll definitely live here. Coach Shanahan actually gave me an opportunity to help out with the guys this offseason through a minority internship so I’m excited about that.”
On any advice he would have for players going through similar health issues:
“First, I would tell them to pray about it. Then, I would say check with the specialists and value their opinion. A lot of times you might get an opinion from a professional and you still might want to go out there and play. At the end of the day, you need to listen to those guys. That’s what they do for a living and they’re going to guide you the right way.”
On what the doctor specifically said that led him to this decision:
“He looked at the x-rays and explained that he had worked with me a long time, since my career started, and said that there were so many different changes that if he were me, he would quit, as simple as that. I wanted to play for Coach Shanahan. I’ve seen what they’ve done over the years. He’s an awesome coach. I know the zone scheme they run would fit my style of play being athletic and quick.”
On what he’ll miss most:
“I think I’m going to miss the fellowship with my teammates, the locker room jiving. And also stepping out there on Sundays and playing the game itself.”