Tight end Casey FitzSimmons has decided to retire due to his problems with concussions. FitzSimmons, as you may remember, had his 2009 season ended against Cincinnati because of a concussion. He went on injured reserve shortly after, and the concussion was so severe that he is still feeling the effects of it to this day. The thing with concussions is that the effects of them can last for such a broad range of time, and for FitzSimmons the severity of his latest one combined with past ones forced him to retire.
FitzSimmons joined the Lions back in 2003 after going undrafted. His path to the NFL is pretty incredible considering he played eight-man football in high school in Montana and then played for an NAIA school in college. When he joined the Lions he was seen as nothing more than a training camp body, but as Tom Lewand explained in his statement about FitzSimmons' retirement, that changed pretty quickly.
"Few Lions’ players ever came as far to accomplish as much as Casey FitzSimmons.
"When you consider that he played eight-man high school football and was not even drafted out of college, then you can truly appreciate what a great career Casey had in the NFL.
"We signed him as a free agent in 2003 because we needed a tight end for our rookie camp. All he did was start in his first NFL game as a rookie, and go on to play as many seasons (seven) at tight end as any player in Lions’ history, other than Jim Gibbons and Charlie Sanders.
"We understand, support and respect his decision to retire and we wish Casey and his family the very best in all their future endeavors."
FitzSimmons' decision to retire was what the Lions' team doctors advised. It really is too bad, because FitzSimmons was always a pretty dependable player during his career. He was never flashy or someone who was going to make a lot of headlines, but he quietly did a great job at tight end and sometimes fullback in his seven years with the Lions.
"This has been a very difficult decision," FitzSimmons said in a statement released by his agent. "I feel like 2009 was one of the best seasons of my career, because I was so consistent, and was able to contribute in a variety of ways. If it wasn’t for the concussions, I would not be retiring.
"It’s frustrating because the rest of my body is still capable of playing at a high level in the NFL," he said. "However, given the seriousness of the risk associated with continuing to play, I have to listen to the advice the team has given me."
My favorite FitzSimmons moment was during the 2007 season at home against Chicago. Detroit made an amazing comeback to beat the Bears and set a record by scoring 34 points in the fourth quarter. The game was sealed when the Bears attempted an onside kick and it was returned by FitzSimmons for a touchdown. Detroit won 37-27 and improved to a 3-1 record on the season.
I wish FitzSimmons the best in his post-NFL life and hope he can recover from this latest concussion.
I will close out this post with what Jim Schwartz had to say about FitzSimmons, because it really sums up my thoughts on him perfectly.
"Casey is a guy who played the game the way it’s supposed to be played.
"He was considered an underdog by many, but never by his coaches. He was a guy you could always count on."