When the Bears’ selection in the sixth round of the 1998 draft was announced — Pat Mannelly, guard, Duke — it barely caused a ripple after the likes of Curtis Enis, Olin Kreutz and Tony Parrish had been chosen in previous rounds.
But when Mannelly’s impending retirement after 16 seasons was announced, it created a very definite ripple.
“Although I have deep respect for Pat’s decision, I’m saddened by it because we are going to lose an extremely high-level leader who had an impact on our team,” said general manager Phil Emery. “Not only from his excellent performance on the field over a very long, sustained and historical amount of time, but in all areas of our team.”
Mannelly leaves with the team’s all-time records in games played (245) and seasons played (16). He was a model of excellence throughout his career as one of the NFL’s top specialists. He was a part of four division championships (2001, 2005, 2006, 2010), an NFC Championship (2006) and appeared in seven playoff contests — including two NFC title games. His 245 games played are tied for 43rd most in NFL history.
He took over the long snapping duties as a rookie and delivered 2,282 long-snap attempts during his NFL career. He contributed to the Bears setting an NFL record for most consecutive unblocked punts (920) and games without a blocked punt (180) from Nov. 28, 1991 through Dec. 29, 2002.
One of the league’s top coverage long snappers, Mannelly notched 81 career special teams tackles, third-most by a Bears player since 1995 when the statistic was first officially recorded.
“It’s difficult to talk about Patrick as a player in the past tense,” said chairman George McCaskey. “He played more seasons than any other Bear. He played in more games than any other Bear. And every season, every game, he was a pro’s pro. He was a captain, someone his teammates looked up to and sought guidance, direction and inspiration, and he provided it.
“Our family is very grateful for all he has done. Not just for the way he’s played on the field, but the way he has carried himself off the field. He’s the epitome of what a Chicago Bear is all about. “We’ll miss having him in uniform and wish him the best.”
His leadership has been displayed both on and off the field, as Mannelly was voted by his teammates and coaches as the Bears special teams captain every year since 2008. He was also named Chicago’s 2013 Ed Block Courage Award Recipient by his teammates.
“It starts with his leadership in the locker room and him reaching out to other players who need help, to all the work he has done in the community, and the way he carried the Chicago Bears mantle,” Emery said. “Any time he was in the public and represented the Chicago Bears, he did it at the highest level possible. We are losing a great person and a great player, one who will always remain a Bear in our hearts.”