Allen Park, Mich.
— Detroit Lions T Jeff Backus, who holds the Lions all-time franchise record with 187 consecutive starts, announced today his retirement from the National Football League after 12 seasons.
Backus has served as the Lions’ starting left tackle since he was drafted in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft out of the University of Michigan. He ranks third all-time in team history with 191 career games.
Backus’ stretch of service for the Lions included a 2011 playoff game at New Orleans as his franchise record of 187 consecutive starts ended last season when he was officially designated inactive on Thanksgiving Day vs. Houston (11/22).
On December 4, 2011, Backus set the team’s all-time franchise record by starting his 172nd consecutive game when the Lions traveled to New Orleans. He broke the previous record of 171 set by Hall of Fame CB Dick LeBeau.
In 2003 and 2010, Backus was given the Eric Andolsek Offensive Lineman Award as the team’s top offensive lineman in a vote by his teammates. His 2010 award was also shared with C Dominic Raiola.
During the 2009 season, Backus was selected as the 2009 recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, which recognizes players who overcome setbacks during their NFL careers. Backus played through several injuries and ailments in his 12-year career, and was sidelined for just one game. He played and started in 99.5-percent (192-of-193) of the possible games during his career.
Backus’ ironman streak stretches beyond his time with Detroit Lions. He entered the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman at the University of Michigan in 1997 and had since started 236 consecutive games for his team. In 2011, Backus became the first player in team history to play in every game in his first 11 seasons in the NFL.
Since the 1970 merger, Backus is also the first offensive lineman to begin his career and start his first 160 career games. At San Francisco (9/16) last season, he set a franchise record for the most games played by an offensive lineman in team history, breaking the previous mark of 177 games by C Kevin Glover.
While at the University of Michigan, Backus started 49-straight games from 1997-2000. He ended his college career with the second-longest streak in the school’s historic football program. Backus was one shy of the school record of 50 by T Jon Jansen.
He entered the Wolverines starting lineup in the first game of the 1997 season (September 13, 1997 vs. Colorado) and had never missed a start since. During his redshirt-freshman season, Backus helped Michigan claim the 1997 National Championship.
The last game Backus did not start for the team he played for occurred in 1996 when he redshirted as a true freshman at Michigan.
h/t: Lions official press release