Thank You, Casey

As of the close of the 2011 season, it’s all but official that the football career of ironman center Casey Wiegmann has come to an end.  It’s a moment that earned passing mention during the commentary of the Broncos game, and one that’s passed with minimal conversation across the Chiefs blogosphere.  And that’s a real shame, I feel; Casey Wiegmann was the very essence of what it meant to be a Chief in the most ideal of situations.

Every aspiring Super Bowl contender needs their Casey Wiegmann.  This is a guy who rose through the ranks of the undrafted, a world where you come with literally no investment from any team, and come with no expectations other than you’re going to be cut very, very soon.  You’re lucky to land on a roster, somewhere, and your only prayer to remain on the team once you do is to be smarter than everybody else, more dependable than everybody else, and a more hungry than anybody else.

There’s perhaps no Chief in the 21st century who embodies all three of those qualities more than Wiegmann, a guy who started 175 games in a row and never missed a single snap in nearly 11,200 plays.  Add in the fact that he’s always been undersized, and it’s hard to believe that someone is even capable of that.

So we salute Casey Wiegmann, with more after the jump.

He even has a name that embodies offensive line football: Wiegmann.  There’s nothing pretty about it, nothing flashy.  It’s big and has no use for your fancy-pants niceties:

The style of his facemask was in vogue about 20 years ago. He uses a pen-and-paper daily planner to keep appointments. And he prefers a simple wooden stool rather than plush seats that everyone else in the Kansas City Chiefs locker room collapses on after a hard practice.

Even though, in his best days, Wiegmann’s play at center was truly a thing of beauty for those who appreciate the position and what a great center brings to the NFL.  His protection calls at the line of scrimmage are damn near the stuff of legend.  It was his impeccable ability to identify pressure points and call out assignments that enabled those great Chiefs lines of the early 2000s to rank among the best ever.  And acquiring him back in 2010 from a short two-year stint with the Broncos resulted in a near-miraculous turnaround for the Chiefs that pushed them into the playoffs.

Wiegmann blocked for Chiefs record setters and league leaders like Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson, and Jamaal Charles, although his performances with Holmes and Charles were by far his most impressive.  The Al Saunders offenses of the early 2000s with Holmes utilized incredibly complex blocking schemes that Wiegmann took to like a duck to water.  And the franchise-record-setting and NFL-leading rungame in 2010 with Charles utilized Wiegmann’s exceptional speed and athleticism to pull, make blocks in space, and destroy linebackers of all shapes and sizes at the second level.

As alluded to earlier, he played with perhaps the best offensive line in Chiefs history, with Hall of Famer Willie Roaf at left tackle, perennial Pro Bowler Brian Waters at left guard, future Hall of Famer Will Shields at right guard, and a rotating cast of John Tait and John Welborne at right tackle.  The former three were frequently recognized and decorated, but Wiegmann’s work was just as stellar as many undeserving Pro Bowl berths were given to other centers in bigger markets.

Hyperbole is always such an easy resort when a player who has been a staple of the team for a decade leaves, but Wiegmann’s career begs hyperbole.  So we’ll do what we can to honor him in the only way we can: by pushing the Chiefs every single day to get better from whatever measley platform we have, and never missing a day while doing so.

Thanks, Casey.

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