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One thing you can count on with the Detroit Lions is that they are never, ever boring. Follow the latest news including injuries, roster moves and more here daily from Oakland Press beat writer Paula Pasche. Plus you'll find regular commentary about the team.


Lions' long-time LT Jeff Backus retires after 12 years

ALLEN PARK — The Jeff Backus era with the Detroit Lions ended quietly on Thursday afternoon.
It was a fitting end for a tough, humble, low-key left tackle who just wanted to play football. Until he didn’t.
Jeff Backus was born to play football, teammate Dominic Raiola once said.
 Backus, who just completed his 12th season, issued a statement which included these words: “It’s a bittersweet moment, but I’m content knowing I gave everything I had, played as hard as I could and tried my best to live up to the standards I believe in.’
 It ended with the simple thought, “I will always be a Lion at heart.’’
 The news was announced in the media workroom by team president Tom Lewand. No blinding lights, no retiree on the podium surrounded by family with a tear in his eye.
 “I can almost assure you he is out fishing somewhere right now,’’ Lewand said.
The 35-year-old Backus, who had one year remaining on his contract, started at left tackle since he was drafted in the first round out of the University of Michigan in 2001.
 He missed just one game in that time. That was last season with a hamstring injury.
“What really stands out for me with Jeff is his first of all his toughness. The guy is unbelievably tough, he has a super-human pain tolerance,’’ Lewand said. “We’re told he’s got a hamstring injury that could last several weeks and he’s out there the following week playing. He’s defying medical logic at times.’’
Backus set an NFL record for consecutive starts with his durability and longevity despite the fact that he was part of just one winning season (2011).
In his only playoff appearance in January 2012 at New Orleans, Backus tore his biceps late in the game. It was serious enough to require surgery.
“He was trying to wrap it and go back in the game, it was like a minute left in the game and we were down two or three scores,’’ center Dominic Raiola said following the game. “So just that will give you a little example in the mind of Jeff Backus.’’
Lewand said there’s a legendary story about when Backus was working out at Michigan and he felt extreme stomach discomfort, but continued on. 
“It turns out he had a ruptured hernia that was protuding through his belly,’’ Lewand said. “That was the kind of guy that Jeff is. I don’t think his facial expression changed, I don’t think it did. It didn’t in 12 years.’’
Even though he was in his 12th season, there was no downslide of Backus’ play last season. He allowed just one sack per Pro Football Focus.
“He was always about getting the job done. I don’t know if there was anybody who’s work ethic better embodied this city and this state than Jeff Backus,’’ Lewand said. “He showed up to work every day and when he committed to do something he did it with every ounce of talent and energy and effort  that he had.’’
 (For continuing coverage on Lions free agency, follow @PaulaPasche on Twitter. Also check out and


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