Zach Strief’s eyes watered up and the normally loquacious Saints right tackle struggled to speak at times as he discussed his decision to end of a 12-year NFL career that exceeded his ”wildest imagination.”
He did not Gerald Everett Jersey , however, lose his sense of humor.
Strief, who announced his retirement Monday, said he considered walking away after the 2016 season, but was driven by a sense of obligation to his team – particularly quarterback Drew Brees – to play at least one more year.
”There was no clear replacement on the roster and I knew if I was at home watching TV and Drew was getting hit and I felt like I could have helped, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself,” Strief said. ”It’s much easier knowing that there’s someone there that’s going to play at a high level for him. So this is all Ryan Ramczyk’s fault.”
Ramczyk, a late first round draft choice last year, blossomed his rookie season, much of which he spent at right tackle after Strief’s Week 4 knee injury, which wound up ending the veteran lineman’s season.
Strief’s health wouldn’t have stopped him from coming back, but the 34-year-old’s priorities are changing. He became a father about two months ago and is part owner of a New Orleans microbrewery Tony Romo Jersey , where he said with a grin that he hopes to meet every last member of the Saints’ fan base.
”I am not above shameless self-promotion,” the often self-effacing Strief added, drawing laughs from a crowd of family and well-wishers that included coach Sean Payton and long-time teammates including Brees, running back Mark Ingram, All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan and punter Thomas Morstead.
Some retired Saints that Strief played with early in his career – including Steve Gleason and Deuce McAllister – also attended.
To Payton, Strief said, ”You took a chance on me when no one else would. Your faith in me has changed my life.”
To general manager Mickey Loomis: ”You kept me around for a long time, admittedly to your own surprise. If I was honest, I’d say it surprised me as well.”
He told Brees: ”My greatest drive as a player was not to let you down. You’re the greatest leader I’ve ever been around and I admire you so much.”
The 6-foot-7, 340-pound Strief, a Cincinnati native, was a seventh-round draft choice out of Northwestern in 2006. That was Payton’s first season and the Saints’ first year back in New Orleans after being displaced to San Antonio by Hurricane Katrina.
Strief recalled struggling in his first training camp and all but making up his mind to quit Stephen Anderson Jersey , but his father urged him to stick it out and some timely encouragement from then-assistant coach Terry Malone persuaded him to persevere.
Strief wound up being part of the most successful era in franchise history, which included a Super Bowl triumph in the 2009 season.
He was a regular reserve during much of his first five seasons, routinely rotating onto the field for tackle-eligible formations. He became a starter in 2011 on an offense that set an NFL single-season record with 7,474 yards.
While quickness and agility weren’t necessarily Strief’s greatest assets, Payton said Strief’s size, strength, intelligence and character made him an elite lineman.
Payton called Strief ”an expert at his craft,” adding, ”We never insert someone just because they’re a good guy and they’re smart.”
Strief counted among his career highlights a game in which was on the field, but not in uniform. He was a healthy scratch for the Saints’ emotional and triumphant first home game in the rebuilt Superdome in September 2006.
”I got to see this city at its worst and for 12 years it’s gotten better,” Strief said. ”I’ve gotten to be a part of not only this organization kind of growing to where it is today, but also this city. So it’s very hard not to become attached to that.”
The Atlanta Hawks are hiring a young coach in Lloyd Pierce to lead a rebuilding team that is about to add even more youth.
The Hawks announced Friday they are giving Pierce his first head coaching job in the NBA Damien Wilson Jersey , choosing a man who has been an assistant with Philadelphia and Memphis to rebuild the franchise.
”It was critically important to find a dynamic teacher who could connect with and develop our young core while instilling the culture and high standards we feel are necessary in a successful program,” Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said in a statement. ”Lloyd Pierce checks every box, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him leading the Atlanta Hawks into the future.”
The Hawks have scheduled a Monday news conference to introduce Pierce.
Pierce, 42, spent the past five seasons as an assistant coach in Philadelphia where the 76ers just reached the Eastern Conference semifinals after finishing third in the conference with a 52-30 record. Pierce also spent two years as assistant coach with Memphis Grizzlies, including 2013 when they reached the 2013 Western Conference finals.
”This is a day I’ve been working toward for a long time and it’s an honor to be the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks,” Pierce said. ”I have great respect for Travis and strong belief in his plan to bring a championship to the city of Atlanta. After spending time with ownership, it’s clear they have a deep investment in and commitment to making this a model organization. This opportunity is a perfect fit for me, and I’m eager to get started.”
More youth is coming in the June 21 NBA draft. The Hawks have three first-round picks, so the rebuilding effort will gain momentum.
Pierce also has been an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors in 2010-11, and he was assistant coach for player development with Cleveland between 2007-10, which included three playoff berths and a spot in the 2009 Eastern finals. Pierce started as an assistant coach at his alma mater at Santa Clara between 2002 and 2007. He played four seasons with two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash a teammate.
Once the decision was made to part ways with former coach Mike Budenholzer Marqise Lee Jersey , who was interviewing for other jobs, Schlenk emphasized he would seek a replacement to work with such young players as center John Collins and forward Taurean Prince.
Pierce replaces Budenholzer who left last month after five seasons with Atlanta . The Hawks went 24-58 this season, which was worst in the Eastern Conference and tied with Dallas for the NBA’s third-worst record. But they were rarely blown out, losing 21 games by fewer than 10 points with only seven losses by 20 or more points.
The last-place conference finish followed 10 straight playoff appearances. The Hawks hit bottom after the team that won 60 games only three years ago gradually lost such starters as Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague.
When outlining his plan last month to search for Budenholzer’s replacement, Schlenk emphasized he wanted to hire a coach best-suited to work with young players.
”Obviously one of the things that’s most important is having a coach who’s going to connect with our young players, continue to develop our young players,” he said. ”That’s going to be a big part of it.”
Trae Young Jersey ,