PHILADELPHIA - If it had not been for one play early in the 2010 season, fullback Leonard Weaver probably would be getting ready to play for new Eagles coach Chip Kelly.
"I've had a chance to meet him and I can't wait to see what kind of offense he brings to the team," Weaver said Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex. "Whatever it is, I think I would have fit in pretty well because of my ability to run, catch and block. It would have been very exciting."
Instead, Weaver was at the NovaCare Complex to officially announce his retirement at the relatively young age of 30 after suffering a horrific leg injury in the 2010 season opener.
Surrounded by family and friends, Weaver accepted a commemorative game ball from general manager Howie Roseman and delivered an emotional speech in which he thanked everyone from former coach Andy Reid to the cooks at the cafeteria.
"Am I upset? No," Weaver said. "I have to admit that there are times when I do think that if (the injury) had not happened, I'd still be playing. But I've discovered that when one portion of your life comes to an end, you just go onto the next portion."
Weaver played just one full season with the Eagles after a four-year stint with Seattle, but he immediately became a fan favorite because of his physical playing style.
In 2009, the 6-foot, 250-pounder led all NFL fullbacks in rushing attempts (70) and rushing yards (323) and scored four touchdowns while making the Pro Bowl and earning All-Pro honors. He also contributed quite a bit off the field as a leader in the locker room and in the community.
"When you're scouting players, you're looking for players like Leonard," Roseman said Tuesday. "He was a rare commodity for us and then off the field, the way that he was a role model for our younger players and how he acted in the community. We're honored that he chose to retire as a Philadelphia Eagle and we wanted to welcome him back here today."
Weaver was looking forward to another outstanding season in 2010 after signing a three-year, $11.5 million contract in the offseason. His season - and his career - ended in the second quarter of the opener against Green Bay when he was hit by Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji and linebacker Nick Barnett.
Weaver's left leg bent back at an awkward angle. He tore the anterior cruciate and posterior cruciate ligaments and suffered tendon and nerve damage.
"I can't really describe what kind of pain I was in at the time," Weaver said. "All I can remember is screaming as loud as I could as I heard the tendons pop."
Weaver, who played tight end in college at Carson-Newman (N.C.), sat out the rest of the 2010 season and was released in the first week of training camp in 2011 when Roseman sent him a text message. As recently as one year ago, he dreamed of making a comeback after undergoing years of strenous rehab, but he changed his mind.
In the last few months, he has established an outreach program for troubled youth and also does some broadcasting work in the Miami area, where he lives.
"I don't have my full range of motion back, but I feel pretty good and can run again without a brace," Weaver said. "But it's time to step away. I have two sons (7-year-old David and 4-year-old Leonard Jr.) and I want to be able to run around and play with them when I'm older.
"I've accomplished a lot in my career. It was short, but I feel blessed to have been able to play the game for as long as I did. I'm very happy and I don't have any regrets."
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