Linebacker Keith Bulluck retires from NFL after 11 seasons
Keith Bulluck didn't always get the attention, used more for his coverage and tackling skills than for rushing the quarterback.
The linebacker made one Pro Bowl and one All-Pro team in 11 NFL seasons, the first 10 with the smaller-market Tennessee Titans. Bulluck officially retired as a Titan on Friday.
"You play this game and everybody wants to play to win a Super Bowl. I never got that opportunity, but there's no love lost for this game whatsoever," Bulluck said. "There's great players that played this game and never played in or for a Super Bowl. I'm happy at this point in my life. I've had the opportunity to make a good amount of money and provide for my family. And now I get to walk away as a Titan. I've always loved being a Titan."
Bulluck arrived in Tennessee as a first-round choice in 2000, a year after the Titans' only Super Bowl appearance, and he last played during the 2010 season with the New York Giants, one year before they won the Super Bowl. He sat out last season after the lockout.
As a Titan, Bulluck was a three-down player who wasn't typically used as a rush specialist the way many 3-4 linebackers are. Instead, he was counted on to cover tight ends in the passing game and be a sure tackler who could create turnovers.
Bulluck recorded 100-plus tackles in eight straight seasons, had 21 career interceptions, forced 14 fumbles and had 11 fumble recoveries. Bulluck also had six defensive and special teams touchdowns in his career.
"He was so athletic and with the long arms, he just gives people trouble," said Titans coach Mike Munchak, who was the team's offensive line coach when Bulluck was with the team. "He's a smart football player and we took advantage of that. Our defensive co-ordinators did a great job of taking advantage of his skills.
"The guy stayed on the field every snap. He wasn't a guy that was a two-down linebacker. I think that's something that gets overlooked. He made the Pro Bowl, was an All-Pro, and probably not as many years as he should have, because he did what the team needed of him. He wasn't asked to blitz as much as other linebackers were who got credit for sacks. But he was as good as anyone in football during his 10 years here with the Titans."
During his decade with the Titans, Bulluck played in 135 consecutive games, with 127 straight starts before a torn ACL in December 2009 ended his streak and ultimately his tenure in Tennessee.
"I'd just like to be remembered as an all-around great linebacker. I don't get looked at like some of those other players in other cities," Bulluck said. "The time I spent with the Giants, I definitely looked in their record books, and they definitely have great linebackers. But if I had played there my whole career: Oooh!
"It's all good. I loved being in Tennessee. I think it keeps you grounded. If you play here in Nashville, I think you've got to be appreciative. You don't have the big media outlets. You don't have all the national attention, but you go out and earn it and it makes you a better person and a better player."