Todd Weiner retired yesterday, and I'm sad to see him go.
I know that many of your more casual fans aren't going to get worked up over the retirement of a veteran offensive tackle. A lot of people are already looking to pick up his replacement in the draft, and most of us were doing it well before this news came in. With his injured knees and his diminished role with the team, it makes a lot of sense for Weiner to hang it up.
Still, this was a man who epitomized the blue-collar ideal of offensive linemen. He was a good teammate, a key cog on the line that protected Michael Vick and turned our ground game into the face-melting rushing attack we've become accustomed to. When injuries sapped some of his effectiveness, Weiner put up and shut up and went out whenever the team needed, even though you could hear his bones grinding together from New England. You know the damage is great when he's leaving the game behind at the age of 33.
I'll remember Weiner as a key piece of some playoff teams, and I'll remember him as the type of professional everybody to point to on their teams. I'll remember him as a guy whose steady play made him invisible at times, which is the highest compliment you can give an offensive lineman short of "wow, he actually ate that guy!" I'll even remember the way grade A doofus and Falcoholic best friend would chuckle every time he saw Weiner's name in a game or while we played Madden, no matter how many times I told him how to pronounce it. He was a part of the Falcons for seven seasons, and it's going to be weird to not see good ol' 74 out there when the 2009 kicks off.
The immediate impact for the Falcons is that they save $4.75 million in cap space, which absolutely should go toward help on the line. They'll also have to hope there's a guy available at 24 or via trade that has half the footwork--and twice the size--of Weiner to play in his spot.
No matter they sign, though, the Falcons are going to be filling a big pair of cleats.
What are your fondest memories of Weiner?