Chad Clifton - Silent Protector
A Green Bay stalwart ended his stay in the (other) city by the bay this week. The most unfortunate thing is that he didn't end it at all...it was ended for him.
After 12 years guarding the blind side, Chad Clifton was released on Monday.Even though he ended up with a lot of injury problems in his career, the thing that sticks out to me the most as I look back on Clifton's career is his durability. Maybe not so much avoiding the injuries, but sucking it up and playing through them when the moment called for it. It seems like just about every week during the latter half of his career, Clifton was battling a knee sprain or a twisted ankle or a creaky back, but there he was, lining up against the premier pass rushers in the league.
It's hard to not think that the his injury-plagued career didn't have something to do with the horrific hit Warren Sapp laid on him back in 2002. Without reviewing the incident too much, Sapp lived up to his reputation as a loud-mouthed idiot when he blindsided Big Chad as a play was coming to an end. Sure, it was technically legal, but that didn't make it right. Anything that puts a guy in the hospital probably is a little bit shady, but you never heard Clifton complain about it.
That's probably the second thing that stands out about Chad Clifton...his persistent silence. I can never remember him saying a word about anything. Never complained or whined about anything. He just did his thing and did it well. Over the past few years, Clifton's biggest rival has without a doubt been the flamboyant Jared Allen,and you'll never see a bigger contrast in styles. The baby-faced, strong and silent Clifton squaring off against the mulleted Allen was always a match-up worth watching, and I'm pretty confident saying that our guy got the better end more often than not.
And yeah, it's sad that it had to end this way. But Clifton got his ring, and I'm sure he'll eventually be a proud inductee into the Packer Hall of Fame.