Monday, November 02, 2009

Department of Bad News: Chris Samuels

Done. Probably for good.

Redskins fans got some expected bad news back on Halloween, long time left tackle Chris Samuels was placed on injured reserve, the neck stinger he took in game five of this season back on 11 October against the Panthers caused Chris some extended numbness, in short order we learned that Chris had been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a condition characterized by the narrowing of the spine in the neck, thereby making it more vulnerable to injury.

In the nearly three weeks since that game Chris has consulted with specialists and weighed his options, and there was really no question, with the risk of paralysis looming and a solid NFL career under his belt, Chris decided to shut it down, likely calling it a career.

It was in part due to the stenosis that Chris wore the big neck brace rising from his shoulder pads all this time. This condition was diagnosed while Chris was still in high school and was manageable, Chris eventually became an All-American and Outland Trophy winner at the University of Alabama before becoming the number three overall selection to the Redskins in the 2000 NFL draft, the Redskins having given up two first round picks in that draft, their own and the one acquired from Carolina in the 1998 trade of defensive end Sean Gilbert to the Panthers (thank you Sean).

Chris became the Redskins starting left tackle immediately, replacing Tre' Johnson and has been the team's anchor at the second most important position on the field for a decade. In ten seasons Chris started 146 of a possible 165 games, including playoffs and those he will not be eligible to start this season.

Chris was amazingly durable during his career, at six feet five and better than 310 pounds he continually tangled with the opponents' best pass rushers. He was selected to six Pro Bowls in his ten seasons, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006 when the team was 5-11 but propelled backup tailback Ladell Betts to 1100 yards on nine starts, 2007 when Chris and Pro Bowl teammates tight end Chris Cooley and long snapper Ethan Albright all wore jersey number 21 in honor of fallen teammate safety Sean Taylor and last season in 2008 when he ended the season on injured reserve with a torn triceps.

Redskins success in the 2009 season was to be largely premised on aging veterans Chris Samuels and right guard Randy Thomas staying healthy, and now both are on injured reserve. Right now Redskins fans are stuck in the void loop of this season, forced to watch it play out slowly and painfully.

We will not fully realize what it means for this team to be without Chris Samuels ever again until the offseason when as expected he announces his retirement and then the team faces a serious rebuilding.

Thank you Chris, you were a hell of a left tackle and did your part to keep quarterback jerseys clean all these years, and Redskins fans will never forget it.

Curly R's Department of Bad News previous announcements on Chris Samuels: 2008

Chris Samuels: AP photo from here.