Team president Tom Lewand said that Backus' decision wasn't unexpected and that Backus is "at peace" with it, according to Dave Birkett. Backus had been contemplating retirement since the end of last season, but I don't think anybody on the outside of the organization really expected him to walk away from the game. Even Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said just last month that he was cautiously optimistic about Backus' potential return.
Backus is retiring from the NFL after playing all 12 seasons of his career with the Lions. He was drafted by the Lions in the first round back in 2001, and he will always be known best for his durability, as he started 192 of a possible 193 games in his career. He had started every single game of his career up until last season, when an injury kept him out for one game (on Thanksgiving). I think Lewand said it best when describing Backus:
Lewand said he'll always remember Backus' toughness. "he's got a superhuman pain tolerance"— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) March 14, 2013
What does this mean for the Lions? The whole plan of moving Riley Reiff to right guard may have to be scrapped. Reiff is now in line to take over for Backus at left tackle, although that could obviously change if the Lions decide to draft an offensive tackle with the fifth overall pick.
I'm still a bit shocked that Backus has retired, but clearly he felt it was time to hang up his cleats. Good luck in the next phase of your life, Jeff.