After eleven years in the NFL that culminated in a Super Bowl appearance this past season, former Oklahoma offensive guard and tight end Chris Chester announced his retirement from football last week. The longest tenured NFL player from the Bob Stoops era, the versatile Chester was known as the ultimate teammate and leader by his teammates. Always the dependable veteran who last year started every game on the NFL’s best offensive line, Chester began his pro career in Baltimore, then played alongside fellow Sooner Trent Williams in Washington before hanging up the cleats following two stellar seasons in Atlanta.
The former second-round pick of the Ravens played in 180 games in his career, starting 143 of them including every game at right guard for the Falcons in 2015 and 2016. Chester, who made the transition from tight end to offensive lineman at Oklahoma, became best known for catching a fake field goal touchdown that sealed up a win at Missouri in 2002. He was also a part of the Sooners’ dominant early-2000s run that included two Big XII Championships, a Rose Bowl win and two BCS National Title Game appearances. Chester and former OU teammate Adrian Peterson are the only players through the Stoops era who have played double digit seasons in the NFL, with AD heading into his eleventh in 2017.
Before Super Bowl LI, Stoops spoke about Chester to The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel and had this to say of his positional switch at OU before the 2004 season.
“Ultimately, we thought that would be his best position,” Stoops said, citing Chester's toughness. “One of the more reliable, accountable and hardworking guys for us. If anyone can do it, it's a guy like him. He found his niche.”
Chester contemplated retirement after the 2015 season following shoulder surgery but thankfully decided to return for the most memorable of his career with the Falcons last year. The soft-spoken, gray-bearded veteran played any role asked of him through a consistent and productive career. The Super Bowl experience with the Falcons (sans the game’s result) was more than well-deserved for the humble lineman from Tustin, California.
“Just like nothing I've ever been a part of,” Chester told Tramel. “Big part of the reason I came back this year. It worked out pretty well. I had no idea I'd still be out here playing. I'm very fortunate to have played this long. I don't ever take that for granted. I look back, wow, it's amazing. Great players, great teams, some awesome experiences.”
We wish Chris Chester the best in health and prosperity in his future beyond football. Wherever he chooses to go and whatever he decides to do, he will continue to be an ambassador for class, sportsmanship and the University of Oklahoma. And we certainly look forward to seeing him back in Norman on a few fall Saturdays for many years. From all of us at C&CM and the Sooner Nation, cheers and Boomer Sooner, Chris Chester!
Here’s one more look back at the big play in the 2002 thriller against Brad Smith’s Missouri Tigers.
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