Though Kyle Emanuel played just four seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers, he got the most out of those four years.
The 27-year-old linebacker announced his retirement from the game on Thursday. He was a free agent and had some interest from other teams, including the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders, but according to a statement he released, his future health was his main concern.
It’s been a good run, my retirement statement pic.twitter.com/kYyhz0XzUe
— Kyle Emanuel (@KyleEmanuel51) April 4, 2019
Emanuel took the hard route to get to the professional level. Growing up and going to high school in Schuyler, Nebraska, he received little attention on a national scale entering college. He ended up at North Dakota State, an FCS school that is pretty good at football.
During his time there, Emanuel was part of a team that won four consecutive national championships. In 2014, his senior year, he won the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the Most Outstanding Player in Division 1- FCS. Other winners of the prestigious award include Jared Allen and Rashean Mathis.
That put him on the radar of NFL teams and the Chargers ended up selecting him in the fifth round of the 2015 draft.
Emanuel always had the determination and drive to complement his ability. The team had highed drafted, better-on-paper linebackers on the team, but Emanuel always found a way to stay in the team’s plans.
One of those linebackers was Jeremiah Attaochu. A former second-round pick of the Chargers, Emanuel consistently outplayed him before eventually supplanting him on a permanent basis in the starting lineup.
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When the team drafted Uchenna Nwosu and Kyzir White last season, to combine with Denzel Perryman and Jatavis Brown, it seemed clear that Emanuel would soon become an afterthought, but he still began the 2018 season in the starting lineup.
Still, those players are the future of the team and that is why Emanuel’s services likely weren’t going to be required going into 2019 and beyond. That said, his time with the team, albeit short, should be respected.
Emanuel’s career stats don’t jump off the page. He had 147 combined tackles, four sacks, two interceptions, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in 63 games. But it was the determination he played with, which began in the small town of Schuyler, that shaped him into the player he was.
Happy trails, Kyle, and best of luck in whatever comes next.