RENTON — It was telling that Marcus Trufant’s big day was actually set in motion a year earlier by Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
The team’s top two decision makers decided after the 2012 season that the veteran cornerback was no longer going to play for their team, but when Trufant signed with Jacksonville, they brought up the idea of Trufant retiring with the franchise that drafted him out of Washington State University a decade earlier.
Carroll and Schneider weren’t around for most of Trufant’s 10-year career in Seattle, nor were they here when he was playing at a Pro Bowl level in the prime of his career. Still, they understood what Trufant meant to the Seahawks, which is why on Thursday Trufant was in a packed auditorium filled with family, friends and former teammates to announce his retirement.
Trufant isn’t the best player to ever wear a Seahawks uniform. He wasn’t the most popular or most famous, but you’d be hard-pressed to find another Seahawk who did things with more class than the cornerback from Tacoma.
Trufant spent much of his 16-minute speech thanking people in the crowd at Seahawks headquarters. That group included his parents — man, can Lloyd Trufant rock a suit; Trufant’s wife, Jessica, and their four daughters; many other relatives and friends; and former teammates including Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Jermaine Kearse, Roy Lewis and Hall of Famer Walter Jones. Fellow Tacoma star turned pro athlete Isaiah Thomas was there, as were Trufant’s brothers Isaiah and Desmond, themselves NFL defensive backs, and standing in the back, Carroll, who coached Trufant for three seasons.
Surrounded by so many loved ones, one of the Seahawks’ true class acts counted his blessings, from Jessica, “my queen,” to his father, “my role model,” to his daughters, “my everything,” to his brothers, “who always had each other’s backs.”
“It seems like it’s been like a storybook, or like a movie,” Trufant said. “Everything has kind of been in my favor, I feel like I have God’s favor. From a young man all the way to an older man — I’m not all the way old yet, I know … I cannot complain about anything. Everything seems like it’s just fallen into place.”
Trufant spent little time going over the accomplishments of his impressive career, which saw him anchor the defensive backfield during one of the most successful eras in franchise history. Nor did he talk about his Pro Bowl season in 2007, nor take credit, which he deserves, for helping mentor the young defensive backs who after his departure went on to lead the Seahawks to a Super Bowl championship.
“Marcus was a cornerstone,” said Lewis, who was teammates with Trufant for three seasons in Seattle. “He was a guy we not only looked up to, but a guy players went to to gain knowledge and grow as players. I remember my first year being right behind him (on the depth chart). He taught me so much not only on the field but off the field. That’s the type of person he is. He’d been there, he’d seen it all and he played the game at a high level for a long time. He was like an older brother to us.”
Instead of talking about his on-field achievements, Trufant remembered doing chores with his brothers. He recalled the pleasant surprise of being drafted by his hometown team. He noted that being a full-time dad was tougher than any two-a-day practice under the hot Cheney sun. And he talked about the work done by the Trufant Family Foundation to help kids in the Seattle and Tacoma areas.
“For me it’s not so much about the stat sheet, it’s about all the lives and people that have impacted me and all the impact that I was able to give people,” he said.
Perhaps it’s because Trufant never measured himself strictly by on-field achievement that he is so at peace with his retirement. Like almost everyone in the NFL, the game retired Trufant more than the other way around. After Seattle decided not to re-sign him in 2013, Trufant landed with former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley in Jacksonville, but was released before the season started. No one else came calling, and whether or not Trufant knew it at the time, his career ended with that late-August transaction.
Trufant is still in shape, but acknowledges the years have taken their toll on his body, and he says he can’t imagine tackling 230-pound running backs anymore. So when Trufant realized he was done, he reached out to Carroll and Schneider, signed a ceremonial contract, and went out with class and grace on Thursday.
“It was just time,” he said. “Everything has an expiration date on it, and I think my body was giving out on me a little bit … It was just time now. Just to be home with my family, all my girls are getting bigger, so it’s just good to be home. I had a nice run, I have no complaints.”
Trufant isn’t sad to see his NFL career end as much as he is excited to see what comes next. He doesn’t have big plans beyond helping wrangle four daughters, cheering on his two brothers and staying involved with his foundation, but he’s eager to find out what his future holds.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I’m not sad right now, this is a happy time. Of course I’m going to miss the game, but it’s just a chapter that is closing. I’ve got a lot more to do, a lot more to give, and I’m just excited to get started on that.
“This was just one chapter, so I’m excited to see where I end up next.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.