Former Browns center, NFLPA president JC Tretter, retires

CLEVELAND (AP) — The days of JC Tretter blocking defensive linemen are over. He is not done facing the NFL.

The former Cleveland Browns center and current NFLPA president announced his retirement Thursday, saying on Twitter that he had ended a playing career that began in Green Bay and spanned nine seasons “at my own terms”.

However, Tretter said in an interview that he believes his work with the union played a role in his not being re-signed after the Browns released him in March.

“There are teams right now that I would say are desperate for a center based on how camp goes,” Tretter told Sports Illustrated. “Still no calls.”

Tretter, who plans to stay and serve his second term as union boss, has missed just one game for Cleveland in the past five seasons despite his bad knees. He rarely trained so he could get medical treatment, but he always managed to be ready for matches.

The 31-year-old didn’t miss a shot until last season when he tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of a Christmas game in Green Bay.

“Amazing how he’s been able to fight injuries and all that stuff,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. “Just think about some of the injuries he suffered in Green Bay and then came here and didn’t miss a lot of time – I don’t even know if he missed any time.

“I never wanted to get out of the game. An impressive example for young guys on how to get to Sunday.

The Browns released Tretter – days after he was elected to a second term as president – as part of a salary cap move. There had been speculation that Cleveland could bring him back after starter Nick Harris suffered a season-ending knee injury in the exhibition opener.

However, the Browns brought up Ethan Pocic in the starting lineup and Tretter remained unsigned before deciding to retire.

Tretter was instrumental in getting COVID-19 team protocols in place and helping the league through pandemic-related challenges during the 2020 season. He was also a strong advocate for player safety and believes some of that work led to him being shunned as a free agent.

While still playing, Tretter thought his off-court efforts would impact his future.

“Guys would be like, ‘Oh, how are your knees? ‘” Tretter told SI. “And I’ve always said, ‘My job in the NFLPA is going to end my career long before my knees end my career. “”

Green Bay drafted Tretter in the fourth round in 2013 over Cornell. He broke his ankle in the offseason and did not play his first year. In 2014, he played eight games, missing time due to a knee injury.

He spent three seasons with the Packers before the Browns signed him as a free agent in 2017.

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