The New England Patriots said goodbye to another long-tenured player on offense on Monday. A month after tight end Ben Watson retired, veteran fullback James Develin has also called it a career.
The 31-year-old began his career in 2012, and he played in just one game that season. From 2013 through 2019, Develin never missed a game. Unfortunately, a neck injury he suffered in Week 2 of the 2019 season caused him to miss the rest of the year, and prompted his decision to retire.
He posted his retirement in the form of a thank you letter to his teammates, coaches, and the Patriots fans, the only NFL organization he’s ever played for:
Develin was more than just a dependable fullback who contributed to three Super Bowl champion teams in New England. He was by most accounts, one of–if not–the best teammate they’ve had in their careers.
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Here are some of the heartfelt tributes Develin received after making his announcement
Head Coach and General Manager, Bill Belichick
To some people, James Develin may be ‘unsung’ in terms of publicity and fame, but to his coaches and teammates, he is one of the most appreciated and respected players we have ever had. In football, there are a lot of tough, unselfish, and dependable people who bring positive leadership on a daily basis, but the name James Develin represents those qualities at an elite level. A tribute to the impact James had on our success, of the five seasons in which he appeared in every game, we won three championships. Any team would be fortunate to have a James Devlin-‘type’ on its roster but the reality is he is a rarity and we are very fortunate he was a Patriot.
Belichick isn’t the type to heap empty praise on people he doesn’t think is worthy. For him to go to the lengths to share this kind of message means something, and it is similar to the tribute he paid to the long-time kicker and Super Bowl hero Stephen Gostkowski when the team made the decision to release him this offseason.
Tom Brady Pays Tribute to James Develin
“I was so lucky to share a huddle with you, Jimmy. Your heart and soul separated you from the pack. And we are all so proud of you and know that you will be great in anything you do.”
Even though Brady has moved on to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it was classy for him to still speak so positively about his former teammate.
Matthew Slater on James Develin
“He’s a tremendous human being. … When you talk about everything this organization hopes to stand for, nobody embodies it better than James.”
Develin walks away from the game still a very young man and his presence will still be clearly missed in the locker room and on the field.
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