Free safety Mathieu Proulx suffered every injury imaginable during his six seasons with the Montreal Alouettes but none seemed to hurt as much as his decision to retire.
The 29-year-old native of Plaster Rock, N.B., choked back tears several times as he announced his retirement on Wednesday.
The last straw was tearing a knee ligament just before half time of the CFL East Division final in November. The injury kept him from playing in the Alouettes' second straight Grey Cup conquest a week later and would have kept him out until at least the seventh week of the 2011 season.
"With my injury now, and the accumulation of all the injuries I've had, it's logical for me to move on and do something else," Proulx said. "I've had both ankles, broken both tibias, I've torn ligaments in my knees, tore both hamstrings, busted ribs, fingers, four or five concussions and both my shoulders are messed up.
"So when you sit at home and you hear noise in your head and you have to hold your arm because your shoulder hurts, maybe it's time to hang up your cleats."
He is the second Alouettes veteran to retire this winter after star slotback Ben Cahoon.
Addressing a packed news conference attended by his family and a handful of former teammates, Proulx knew he was going to break down as he thanked them and many others for their help during his career.
But it was only the second biggest media crowd he'd faced in recent months.
During Grey Cup week, the law graduate and the Alouettes representative on the CFL Players Association was the centre of attention for a day when he spoke about what he felt were the substandard accommodations the team was given in Edmonton.
Some felt his public stand helped rally the Alouettes, and helped deflect attention from his healthy teammates as they prepared for the final.
"I just saw a situation that I found was inequitable and I denounced it," he said. "It was tough, to be honest.
"There were 40 or 50 people in the scrum surrounding me. It was probably one of the times I was most intimidated in my career. I truly believed what I said, so it was easier to fight through it. But I don't think it had anything to do with the victory."
Proulx also announced he was putting his law career on hold to pursue opportunities in television. He has already been working on stories about athletes for the French language station Vie and hopes to find more work in the media.
"If I don't do it now, it's not going to be there in five years, but on the other side, law will be there in five years," said Proulx, who will remain a member of the local bar association.
Proulx said the highlights of his career were the two Grey Cups as well as the two Vanier Cups he won with the Laval University Rouge et Or.
The first-round draft pick in 2005 played 76 CFL games, picking up 98 defensive tackles, 46 special teams tackles, nine interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
He and his good friend Etienne Boulay competed for the safety position for most of his tenure, but Proulx was also a leader on the sidelines and in the meeting rooms.
"Everything was set up for us to hate each other, but we were friends from the start," said Boulay. "We lost not only a great player but a great leader. Everyone gravitates to Matt Proulx."
Boulay should now step in as the full-time safety and the team also recently signed free agent Tad Crawford.
"For sure, it's easier to go out as a champion," added Proulx. "It's too bad that they're going to win again next year and I won't be there for the three-peat, but to go out as a champion is a great feeling."