After an illustrious, 12-year career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that featured six Pro Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl championship, fullback Mike Alstott retired from the NFL on Thursday, January 24. Alstott addressed his family, the Glazers, general manager Bruce Allen, head coach Jon Gruden, teammates, friends and the media at a retirement ceremony at One Buccaneer Place.
Here is Mike Alstott's speech in its entirety:
“Today I am here to officially announce my retirement from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Though mentally, I feel I can continue – physically, I can’t. The second injury to my neck will prevent me from playing football forever. Today is definitely a day of mixed emotions. I am very sad to be walking away from this game that I love, but at the same time, I am excited and blessed that it has taken me this far.”
“Ever since I was a kid, I had always dreamed about playing in the NFL. That dream came true the day I got the phone call from Jill Hobbs, telling me Coach [Tony] Dungy wanted to speak to me. From Day One, my goal coming in to the league was not to be an average player. It was to be the best at my position and dominate. As a professional athlete and as part of a football team, your number one goal was to win each and every Sunday. At the end of the day, when it is all said and done, yes, you’ll have the memories of your career – but the relationships stay forever. Relationships with players and coaches have helped me achieve and helped me make my NFL dreams come true. It couldn’t have been possible without numerous people, and that’s why today I would like to say thank you and acknowledge some of them that made my dreams come true.”
“Before I get started, I think it is important to acknowledge the existing relationships already in place that made it possible. The relationships between my agents, Jim Steiner and Ben Dogra and Mark Halligan, with Rich McKay and Bruce Allen. They believed in me and took care of the business side of things so I could continue my dreams. Also, I would like to thank Mark Dominik, Nancy Hasselman and their group, for their assistance in the process. I’ve truly been blessed. Football has been a part of my life for over 26 years. Not many people get to play in the NFL, much less for an organization like the Buccaneers.”
“From the first time I met Mr. and Mrs. Glazer and their family, I could tell you there was something about them. Something about this team, this sport, this community desperately needed. They viewed us players not as numbers or employees, but as people and made them feel like part of their family. Mr. Glazer, along with Bryan and Joel, always made it a point to wish us luck before the game and were there after the games for support. I will never forget the day when Mr. Glazer, along with Bryan and Joel, came to the locker room during the middle of the game after I sustained a knee injury to check on me and my family to make sure everything was all right. It’s the little things like that that make us players want to play for such a first-class organization. I know you all had a vital role in allowing me to play my entire career with one organization. And from the bottom of my heart, and my family’s heart, we thank you.”
“It all started with Coach Dungy who brought me into this organization as a young player. I was honored to be able to be coached by a man who not only gave us football wisdom, but also taught us great life lessons. Someone who gave us guidance. Someone who took us under his wing. We were able to look up to him as a father figure and I continue to look up to him to this day. He as a head coach not only built this team, but also a strong foundation of coaches. Coaches that have made such a strong impact on the start of my career, including Clyde Christensen, Mike Shula and a special thanks to Tony Nathan – my running backs coach my first six years – for helping me through me development as a young player.”
“The second half of my career saw a new era for me and the team. Coach Gruden came aboard and with him he brought a distinct passion and a unique demeanor and guided us each and every day on our way to making Buccaneer history. Coach Gruden also brought along some great coaches I have been honored to be associated with. Kirby Wilson, who helped me make the transition to the new offense. It wasn’t easy and it wouldn’t have been possible without him. Art Valero, my running backs coach the last four years of my career. He was a great teacher of the game. Above all, he took the time to get to know his players. Eventually, we developed a strong relationship. He was a person that was there for me through good and bad and was there to listen and a guy I could count on each and every day. There are many coaches that have come through One Buc that didn’t coach me directly, but all played a large part in my career and I thank them all. One person, Rich Bisaccia, stands out as a guy whose friendship I cherish and someone who will remain a lifelong friend.”
“Coaches are key, but the unity and camaraderie of players are what make memories. As a rookie, I was fortunate to have several veteran teammates help me make that adjustment to the NFL. Guys like Trent Dilfer, Paul Gruber, Ian Beckles, Brad Culpepper, Hardy Nickerson, Tony Mayberry, John Lynch and other vets. But the one guy took the extra time to help me out was Dave Moore. He showed me what it took to be a true professional on and off the field. I can truly take something from each and every guy I played with.”
“But looking back on it, I know I have now realized that there were a core group of players who impacted my career. We came together to change the view of this organization and the way people perceive the Buccaneers as a football team. We in that locker room established a chemistry that was like no other. We united together for one purpose, and that was to win conference championships and Super Bowls. Together, we are a huge reason why the Bucs are an elite team in the NFL today. I am honored to be a part of a group of guys – a [Warren] Sapp, a [John] Lynch, a [Derrick] Brooks, a [Ronde] Barber – Jeff Christy, Shelton Quarles, Brad Johnson, Warrick Dunn, Brian Kelly, Michael Pittman, Dave Moore and others – and there are a lot of others. Together, we put the Buccaneers on the map. The relationships with these guys are something special that could never be taken away from me. Even though I will not be able to be in the locker room or on that gridiron with these guys again, our families will remain close. Our relationships will remain strong. I personally want to say thanks for the great memories and thank you to each and every player I stepped on the field with. I am honored to have played with you and for you to have chosen me a captain of the Buccaneers.”
“As we know, the success of a player and a team goes beyond the coaches and the players themselves and it has many support systems in place. One, the athletic staff. For 11 of my 12 years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Todd Toriscelli. Todd had my best interests in mind when getting me back on the field. As a professional athlete, there is no worse feeling than being injured and not being able to contribute. Todd always was there to encourage me and to help me get through those difficult times. I’d like to thank him and his staff, including Shannon [Merrick], Pat [Jernigan] and others, for being there and being a part of my success. Although there were some times I had to threaten Todd if he ever had to tell Coach my injuries. Some other key people that played a part in my success were the doctors – [Joe] Diaco, [John] Zvijac, Dr. Janecki and my neck surgeon, Dr. Maroon. Their care for me and my teammates were a huge part of Buccaneers success.”
“But the relationships we developed are what I am most thankful for. In addition, there were some other groups I couldn’t have done it without. The strength and conditioning staff throughout my 12 years, especially Mike [Morris] and Kurt [Schultz]. Thanks for getting there extra early at 6:00 a.m. so I can prepare for my day. The equipment guys throughout my career – they made it possible for us players to do what we did each and every day. Dave Levy and the video department. The memories we create each year are priceless. I consider you guys part of my family.
“There are also so many others that I would like to say thank you to for their hard work behind the scenes that don’t get enough credit. Jeff Kamis and his P.R. staff, for always making me feel comfortable and looking out for me and my family’s best interests. Jason Layton and his ticket staff, for taking care of me and my high demand. Numerous community relations staffs throughout my career, especially Rich Clements, for simplifying my life off the field so I can concentrate on football. Killeen [Mullen] and the event staff, thank you for a wonderful game day experience and your help with all of the numerous events. Jill Hobbs, for your care and efforts for me and my family. Andres [Trescastro] and Henry and their staff, for always making us feel safe and secure. And two people that are glad to see me leave that are involved in the day-to-day football activities are Paul Kelly and Mark Arteaga. They will now rest easy at night knowing their tires won’t be hanging from the goal posts.”
“To the city of Tampa and all of the Buccaneer fans. Thank you. My appreciation to you is truly inexpressible. Your love and support over the past 12 years has been second to none. When we went on that field on Sundays we weren’t just playing for ourselves, we were playing for you. I’ll always be thankful to all of you that sent cards, sent prayers and wished me well when I was injured. I was honored to meet so many of you throughout the years whether it was at FanFest, community events or my weekly radio show with Steve Duemig. Although I will never experience the feeling of running out of the tunnel and hearing the roar of the crowd and the train horn, the memories you have given me will be forever. Thank you again for allowing me to call Tampa Bay my home.”
“Above all, I have been blessed over the years to have a great family and great friends with nothing but support from them. Today, some of you are present with me to say thank you to the Buccaneers organization and everyone that made our career possible. But I would personally like to thank them – my parents and my brother and his family, my wife’s family, my good friend Scott, and his family. Thank you for everything you’ve ever done. This has been an incredible journey through the NFL and I am grateful to have been able to share my dreams and aspirations with all of you, but especially with my wife Nicole, son Griffin, daughters Hannah and Lexie Jo. Nicole – I understand that it is not easy being the spouse of a professional athlete, but thank you for understanding the high demands it takes to be successful. Through it all, you stood by my side and you allowed my dreams to become our dreams so we could experience something together. Thank you for being my best friend, and being there for me through this experience.”
“I feel so fortunate to be a father and having my kids experience my career. They see me as Daddy – not a professional football player. They have kept me grounded my whole career, and at the end of the day, nothing is better than getting home to them and having their hugs and kisses allow me to forget all of the day’s stresses associated with football. Some of my most memorable moments of my career are with my three beautiful children. Taking my son in the locker room and playing catch with him after games, and chasing my girls around the 50-yard line will be things I truly miss. But I am relieved to know that Daddy still gets to be Daddy and to be there for my children as they grow up. I love you so much.”
“And last, a special thanks to you – the media – for being here today and covering me over the years. You have been a big part of my career. Yes, there were some ups and downs, but mostly ups. Thank you again for your support of me on the field, and your support for my charitable endeavors off the field. I’ll truly miss every one of you guys. You had a huge part in my life and I thank you for that and my family thanks you for that. Thanks for the memories.”
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