The NFL’s all-time leading punter has retired. And even though the announcement didn’t come from Shane Lechler himself, the seven-time Pro Bowl punter will not be playing a 19th season in the NFL.
Former Texans teammate J.J. Watt broke the news on social media, posting Saturday a picture of himself with his arm around Lechler and writing: “A retirement party fit for GOAT.” Watt called Lechler “the best punter ever” and “an even better person. … We’ll do it all again when they put that gold jacket on him too!” The latter a reference to Lechler’s Hall of Fame credentials.
A retirement party fit for a GOAT.
The best punter ever & an even better person. Last night was a testament to that as family, friends & teammates flew in from all over to celebrate Lech & his unbelievable career. We’ll do it all again when they put that gold jacket on him too! pic.twitter.com/5LaTZETKIg
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) March 30, 2019
Lechler, 42, was drafted in 2000 by Oakland in the fifth round and played 13 seasons for the Raiders before finishing his career with the Texans, who released him last August. No team picked up Lechler, and he sat out the 2018 season.
Lechler’s career average of 47.6 yards per punt is the best in NFL history. His 68,676 yards is second to Jeff Feagles.
Lechler led the NFL in punting five times, including 2009 when he averaged 51.1 yards per punt for the Raiders. Only Sammy Baugh’s 51.4-yard average in 1949 was better. Lechler also has the fourth-best season average (50.8 in 2011) and is tied for 10th best (49.1 in 2017).
The only punter enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is Ray Guy, who played his entire 14-year NFL career with the Raiders.