As Mike Wells explained for ESPN, Indianapolis Colts mainstay starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo missed last Saturday's playoff game against the Buffalo Bills after he underwent season-ending ankle surgery.
Indianapolis fans may not have realized at the time that the loss to Buffalo was also an unofficial farewell to Castonzo.
The Colts and Castonzo confirmed on Tuesday that the 32-year-old is retiring from the NFL following a 10-year career that included the first-round selection from the 2011 NFL Draft making 144 regular-season starts with his one and only pro club.
"As a kid, it was my dream to play in the NFL," Castonzo said in the prepared statement. "I played my first full season of tackle football in second grade. Now I have played my last. As I sit here now, after a 10 year NFL career, I am extremely proud of all the hard work and sacrifice that allowed me to evolve that dream into a goal, and ultimately into a reality unlike anything I could have even imagined.
"More than anything, I want to thank everyone who supported me along the way, especially those who believed in me during times when I did not believe in myself. So thank you to the GMs who believed in me. Thank you to all the coaches who have taught me so much in my 25 total years of football. Thank you to the fans who are so dedicated to the game we all love. Thank you to my teammates who have become friends and those who I now call brothers. Thank you to all the strength coaches, trainers, and medical staff who gave me the blueprint to build (and sometimes rebuild) myself into the best player I could be. Thanks to all the support staff who helped make my daily work experience a joyous one. And thank you to my family who is every one of these things and so much more."
Castonzo reportedly considered retirement after the 2019 campaign and missed four games this season because of injuries. Per Wells, three-time All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson could slide over to Castonzo's position next fall.
"The Colts have been blessed with many talented offensive linemen throughout our rich history and Anthony Castonzo is among the best to represent the Horseshoe," added owner Jim Irsay. "For 10 seasons, Anthony consistently handled premier pass rushers at one of the toughest positions to play. He quickly developed into the leader of our offensive line and set a standard for preparation, strength and conditioning, and play. Anthony deserves a tremendous amount of credit for helping our offensive line mature into one of the best units in the NFL. He will sorely be missed, but we are so appreciative of AC's contribution to our organization and we congratulate him on a fantastic career."