Mike Leach ‘00, a 16-year National Football League veteran and former William and Mary star, announced his retirement Jan. 27. The 39-year-old former Tribe tight end and punter-turned-NFL long-snapping mainstay made the announcement with a letter on Twitter.
“I’ve reached the end of my journey as a player in the National Football League,” Leach said in his letter. “It is rare in our profession that a player gets to choose when it’s over and to go out on his terms.”
I’ve reached the end of my journey as a player in the National Football League,” Leach said in his letter. “It is rare in our profession that a player gets to choose when it’s over and to go out on his terms.”
Leach has seen action on the field for three NFL teams since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2000: the Tennessee Titans, the Denver Broncos and finally the Arizona Cardinals with whom he spent the last seven seasons. In that time, he has played in 235 total games, which makes him the 75th most-played athlete in NFL history. He earned the nickname “Ironman” after playing in 216 consecutive regular season games from 2002-2015, which, prior to his retirement, was second-most among all active players, ahead of notable third-ranked Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys.
Leach is already an inducted member of the William and Mary Athletics’ Hall of Fame, class of 2011. Although he only played his junior and senior seasons at the College after transferring from Boston, he was recognized as a two-time All-American tight end as well as two-time all-conference and all-state punter. He set the single-season school record for average yardage per punt at 44.4.
Originally signing with the Titans as a tight end and punter, he carved himself a niche in the NFL as a long-snapper. His special teams work landed him long-term gigs with Denver and Arizona, culminating in a 16-year career that ends on a season where both the Tribe and the Cardinals made serious playoff noise for the first time in years.
I know I’ll miss it,” Leach said in his letter. “Nothing can replace the feeling of running onto an NFL field on game day or celebrating with your teammates after a big win.”
He has found success both on and off the field. In 2010, Leach was named the Arizona Cardinals Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, honored as the club’s most outstanding philanthropist of the year. His philanthropy will likely continue in the future. He and his wife, former Tribe basketball player Julie Leach ’99, founded Potty Pals in mid-2015, a company that makes products to aid toilet training to help parents.
“I know I’ll miss it,” Leach said in his letter. “Nothing can replace the feeling of running onto an NFL field on game day or celebrating with your teammates after a big win.”