Chiefs' Vrabel retires after 14 years; LB to coach at Ohio State

Former All-Pro linebacker Mike Vrabel is retiring from the Kansas City Chiefs and returning to his alma mater as an Ohio State assistant coach.

Vrabel confirmed Monday morning the end of his 14-year career and that he had taken the job as linebackers coach with the Buckeyes. The position was previously held by his college roommate and teammate, Luke Fickell, who was elevated to interim head coach when Jim Tressel resigned May 30. 

Vrabel announced his retirement in a statement issued through his agent.

Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, who worked with Vrable while with the Patriots, and later orchestrated the trade that brought the linebacker to Kansas City, called it "an honor and a privilege" to be associated with Vrabel for 10 seasons. 

"Mike was a great college player that came into the NFL as a third-round pick and role player," Pioli told the Chiefs' official site. "Eventually, he made himself a starter and a champion. It's no coincidence that Mike won championships everywhere he played -- from his time at Ohio State to his role in division titles on three NFL teams.

"His genuine love for the game, his preparation, his work ethic, leadership and dependability are qualities you want from every player. He is a champion in every sense of the word and I'm confident all of these qualities will make him a great coach. I cannot overstate my respect for him as a person and a football player. If there were a Hall of Champions, Mike Vrabel would be a first ballot selection."

Vrabel was a two-time All-American and two-time Big Ten Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year at Ohio State before being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1997.

Vrabel, 35, spent his first four NFL seasons with the Steelers, then was part of three Super Bowl-winning teams with the Patriots from 2001 to 2008. The Patriots shipped Vrabel and quarterback Matt Cassel to the Chiefs in February 2009 in return for the No. 34 overall pick in that April's draft.

"During his Patriots career, there was no player more respected for his football intellect and revered for his leadership by his teammates than Mike," Belichick said in a statement released by Ohio State. "He was elected a team captain by his peers and is a player who I think everyone knew was destined to become a coach after his NFL playing career was over.

"Mike Vrabel is as well-suited for coaching as any player I have ever coached. He has a tremendous feel for people, players, coaches and what his team needs regardless of the situation. He is outstanding in his knowledge of the game, which contributed to his excellence as a player. I have no doubt Mike will develop tough, intelligent, fundamentally sound winners."

Vrabel started 30 games over two seasons with the Chiefs and logged 100 total tackles, with two sacks and three forced fumbles.

Vrabel has 57 sacks, 11 interceptions and 17 forced fumbles in his career. He also scored touchdowns on all 10 of his receptions as a goal-line pass catcher.

Vrabel's retirement caps an interesting offseason for the linebacker. He was one of 10 players named as a plaintiff in the Brady et al v. the National Football League et al antitrust lawsuit filed in March. He also was arrested and charged with theft at the Belterra Casino Resort in Florence, Ind., in April, but was released from jail after posting $600 cash bond.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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