The 35-year-old, 13-year veteran tackle was ultra short with his answers for a moment Sunday, struggling to process his latest encounter with football's greatest emotional pain: losing the Super Bowl.
Staley wasn't alone. Fellow veteran Emmanuel Sanders was understandably irritable during his brief time with reporters, calling one question "dumb" and wisely exiting swiftly before his emotions got the best of him.
It hurts for everybody, but it hurts much more for those who know their time is running out.
"Yeah, I'm sorry. This is super disappointing," Staley said. "This is very hard being in this moment right now. You put your heart and soul and your whole entire life into trying to be a Super Bowl champion and you get towards the end of your career. And you realize how rare these opportunities are.
"Emotions are still raw and real for me right now. I'm trying to answer questions and I'm sorry that I'm not ... but it's ... put yourself in my shoes for a second; it's tough."
The emotional toll another lost Super Bowl had taken on Staley was evident. It would've been entirely understandable if he'd shed a tear or two right there on the podium. After all, he'd shed enough blood during the actual game, suffering a cut on his hand that required stitches.
"It sucks losing it for a guy, especially, like Joe, just everything he's been through," quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. "This whole team, I mean, it's an incredible team, a team that's unlike any team I've ever been a part of."
The tackle told NFL.com Thursday he's not sure how long he'll play. At 35, he said some days he feels like he has five years left in him, and other days it "feels like five minutes." However long it may be, he'll have quite a team to return to.
"This football team, 100 percent," Staley said when asked if he's optimistic about the team's prospects. "This football team is built for the long haul, and I could not be more proud of the guys that we have in our locker room. I think we have a ton of talent, and we will be back."
Staley will have plenty of time to get past the pain from Sunday. Whether he'll get another chance to win the Lombardi Trophy is less certain.