Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel will retire from the NFL and be named an assistant coach at Ohio State on Monday, sources told The Columbus Dispatch on Saturday night.
None of the parties involved would comment when reached by The Dispatch, but the paper reported the school has a tentative news conference scheduled for Monday to announce the hiring. Vrabel, an Ohio State alum, played the past two seasons with the Chiefs after eight years with the New England Patriots. He has been part of NFL's labor negotiations as a member of the NFL Players Association's executive committee.
Luke Fickell, the Buckeyes' former defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, was promoted to head coach on May 30 after Jim Tressel resigned. According to The Dispatch, Fickell and Vrabel were roommates and teammates during their time together at Ohio State.
Speculation has been rampant that new Ohio State coach Luke Fickell coveted Vrabel, his former OSU teammate and roommate. Now, it appears he has his man.
At Ohio State, the 35-year-old Vrabel was a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Award recipient before being drafted in the third round of the 1997 draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He signed with New England before the 2001 season and won three Super Bowls as a member of the Patriots.
The Chiefs traded a second round pick to New England during the 2009 offseason to acquire Vrabel and quarterback Matt Cassel. The move was Scott Pioli’s first major personnel move as the Chiefs' general manager and it turned out to be a good one. In it, he got the team a future Pro Bowl quarterback and a grizzled veteran leader to be the quarterback of his defense.
Though Vrabel’s best playing days were behind him, he made a clear impact on a struggling young defense. In particular, Vrabel served as a mentor to outside linebacker project Andy Studebaker.
Originally less than thrilled about being traded away from perennial contender New England to a terrible Chiefs team, Vrabel eventually embraced his new role as mentor and helped the organization turn things around.
Vrabel’s true contributions to Kansas City may not be fully realized until Andy Studebaker gets a chance to see consistent playing time. Should Studebaker develop into one of the game’s top linebackers, or even just a solid contributor, there will be no doubt that Mike Vrabel’s teachings will be largely responsible for his success. Come to think of it, you could even say Vrabel’s coaching career started in Kansas City.
Who knows, perhaps if he is successful at Ohio State, he’ll look to return to the NFL someday as a coach.
If Vrabel does indeed retire and doesn’t pull a Brett Favre, he’ll finish his career with 742 tackles, 57 sacks, 20 forced fumbles, 11 interceptions, 42 pass defenses and one defensive touchdown.
He also has a remarkable ten receptions for 14 yards and 10 touchdowns as a goal line tight end. In his 14-year NFL campaign, Vrabel spent time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. He won three Super Bowl Championships with the Patriots in 2002, 2004 and 2005.
The Beard and Stache wish Mike “Eight Pack” Vrabel all the best as he begins a new chapter in his life.