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Whither, The NeckBeard: Kyle Orton Retires

One of the Cradle of Quarterbacks has decided to hang it up.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

How long ago was The Fumble? Well, the guy that was at the center of the play, Kyle Orton, ha decided to officially retire, knocking the number of Purdue quarterbacks in the NFL down to two:

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports Cowboys backup QB Kyle Orton has informed the team he plans to retire.

Orton may want to retire, but the real question is can he afford it. If Orton does not report, he would be forced to pay back $3 million of the $5 million signing bonus he received in 2012, as well as lose out on the $3 million salary he is scheduled for in 2014. The Cowboys view Orton as one of the top backups in the league and will do everything they can to hold onto him. Only 31 years old, the reasons for Orton's desire to hang 'em up are unclear.

I always felt Orton was underappreciated as a Pro QB. he finished his career with 70 starts and an even 35-35 record. His final start was this past season when he replaced Tony Romo in a win-or-go-home Sunday night game against Philadelphia and did well. Unfortunately, a late interception led to a loss.

Still, his career numbers were respectable. He threw for over 15,000 yards, had more touchdowns (83) than interceptions (59) and was even 10-5 as a rookie that wasn't even expected to play. He helped get the Bears to the playoffs, where he was replaced by Rex Grossman, which is a fate that should never befall anyone. Sure, he basically was a caretaker that season and was limited to "just don't screw up", but you know what? He accomplished the goal of winning the game. That should matter a lot more than "Well, he doesn't regularly throw for 300 yards". More often than not Orton had his team in position to win. He rarely put up huge numbers that teams want, but he rarely would lose a game for you.

At Purdue he had 9,337 yards and 63 TDs against only 28 interceptions despite battling Brandon Kirsch for two full seasons. While Drew Brees took Purdue to a Rose Bowl, Orton arguably had the better overall team in 2003 when Purdue went 9-4 and had three losses come either in overtime (Ohio State and Georgia) or by a point (Bowling Green). The next season he had Purdue on the cusp of greatness before The Fumble and following four-game losing streak.

Orton will always be remembered fondly, be it his 40-yard TD pass to beat Michigan State in 2002 when he had been sitting on the freezing bench for 3.5 hours, the tough-as-nails Capitol one Bowl against Georgia where he played with a dislocated thumb, or the trouncing of Notre Dame in South Bend in 2004. On that last point, he is the lone Purdue quarterback of the last 40 years (and at least until 2021) that won in South Bend.

So goodbye, Captain Neckbeard. May we retire your barstool to the rafters of Harry's. And let's view this one more time, with gusto: