P Koch, the Ravens’ longest-serving player, is retiring

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. In front of a packed auditorium, Baltimore Ravens player Sam Koch announced his retirement on Thursday during a tearful press conference that ended the career of the longest-serving player in franchise history.

Koch, 39, will remain with the Ravens as a special team consultant this season and mentor Penn State punter Jordan Stout, who was drafted by Baltimore in the fourth round 19 days ago.

A 16-year veteran, Koch played in a team record of 256 games in Baltimore, 27 more than any other Ravens player. The only active player with longer current service with his team is Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Koch said he has no doubt he can still score in the league, but acknowledged he is at peace with his decision. He knew his race was coming to an end before the start of the third day of the draft when Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta and coach John Harbaugh informed him the team could draft a tipper.

“I remember saying to them, ‘This is a business decision, and you have to do what you think is best for the Ravens,'” Koch said. “So they made that decision, and at that point I think I knew my time was up and it’s OK. I’m very excited about my next chapter in life and all I can do is be very grateful for the way they handled it. Goods. “

Koch broke down several times while reading his nine-page speech in which he talked about how he beat the odds as a walk-on in Nebraska and came to the NFL even though he was not invited to the NFL combination.

“I swear, I practiced a lot at home,” Koch said, wiping tears from his eyes. “Not once did it end like this.”

With Koch’s retirement, the Ravens released $ 2.1 million in much-needed salary caps that could be used to sign a wide receiver or pass-rusher. Baltimore goes from having a player with the NFL’s third-highest cap number ($ 3.175 million) to the 28th-highest ($ 879,459), which is important for a Ravens team that has $ 7 million in cap room.

Koch, the 203rd player selected in the 2006 draft, is one of two active players from that draft class (tight than Marcedes Lewis is the other). His influence on the game goes beyond his one Pro Bowl season (2015).

Koch, who was considered an innovator in pointing circles, created a range of kicks that caused problems for recurring catches. He had a hook punt that fell in the shape of an “S” and a knuckleballer that was even harder to pose. Koch sometimes strained on his body, so it looked like he was hitting the right side of the field when he actually angled the point to the left. There are college players who refer to certain trick punts as “Koch hooks.”

As the Ravens’ pointer in 16 of the team’s 26 years of existence, Koch holds almost every point-breaking record for the franchise: total points (1,168), gross average (45.3) and points within the 20-yard line (450). The Ravens’ 11 longest points have all come from Koch’s right leg.

“Sam changed pointing,” Harbaugh said. “Many people do not know it, but all tippers know it, and all point coaches know it. When you change something forever, it’s a revolutionary thing to me. It’s characterized by greatness.”

The Ravens have often regarded Koch as their secret weapon for the many ways he has helped Baltimore win. Koch has been described as “the best owner in the history of football,” according to former Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg. He has kicked three Pro Bowl kickers: Matt Stover, Billy Cundiff and Justin Tucker, who is the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history.

Koch’s most unusual sign of honor is that he is the Ravens’ leader in passer rating. He has completed 7 of 8 passes on false points in 82 yards and a rating of 109.4. The teammates regarded Koch as one of the best athletes on the team, and he showed his agility when he scored a seven-yard touchdown from a false field goal in 2012 against the Raiders.

“You never really go into the mindset that one of your best draft picks will ever be a tipper,” DeCosta said. “Nobody says that. But in this case, it’s true.”

Perhaps the biggest highlight of Koch’s career came in the Super Bowl XLVII, when he recorded one of the most important safety points ever. With Baltimore having a 34-29 lead with 12 seconds left, Koch snapped in the end zone and ran for eight seconds before stepping off the field, giving the San Francisco 49ers a game to try and win the game.

With Koch retired and cornerback Jimmy Smith unsigned, the only two players from the 2012 Super Bowl championship team currently under contract are Tucker and linebacker Josh Bynes. Koch will always be remembered for how he pushed others around him to strive for perfection. When he succeeded, he delivered his slogan: “Way to do your job.”

“Sam’s contribution is not just as a specialist or a role player, but as a leader and as someone who should definitely be seen as an example of what it looks like to be a raven,” Tucker said. “Did you hear Sam talk about having the opportunity to play with some of the great ravens that have been. He’s definitely in that conversation. His career makes him a lock for the Raven’s Ring of Honor.”



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