Keith Bulluck won't let the timing the lack of recognition take away anything from his accomplishments of his 11-year NFL career.
On Friday, Bulluck came back to where his career began, signing a one-day contract to retire as a Tennessee Titan where he spent the first decade of his career. For Bulluck, he arrived in Tennessee as a first-round pick in 2000, a year removed from the team's only Super Bowl appearance. And he finished up with the New York Giants in 2010, a year before they won the championship last season.
“You play this game and everybody wants to play to win a Super Bowl. I never got that opportunity, but there's no love lost for this game whatsoever,” Bulluck said. “There's great players that played this game and never played in or for a Super Bowl. I'm happy at this point in my life. I've had the opportunity to make a good amount of money and provide for my family. And now I get to walk away as a Titan. I've always loved being a Titan.”
Bulluck's contributions were certainly known to the Titans, but because he didn't put up dazzling sack numbers, his talents were often unrecognized around the league, as evidenced by only one Pro Bowl appearance and one All-Pro first-team selection.
Bulluck was three-down linebacker who wasn't so much asked to blitz or be a sack specialist the way many 3-4 linebackers are. Instead, he was what in today's NFL would be a very coveted commodity – linebacker who could cover tight ends or even wide receivers.
Bulluck recorded 100-plus tackles in eight straight seasons, had 21 career interceptions, forced 14 fumbles and had 11 fumble recoveries. He also had six defensive and special teams touchdowns in his career.
“He was so athletic and with the long arms, he just gives people trouble,” said Titans coach Mike Munchak, who was the team's offensive line coach when Bulluck was with the team. “He's a smart football player and we took advantage of that. Our defensive coordinators did a great job of taking advantage of his skills.
“The guy stayed on the field every snap. He wasn't a guy that was a two-down linebacker. I think that's something that gets overlooked. He made the Pro Bowl was an All Pro, and probably not as many years as he should have, because he did what the team needed of him. He wasn't asked to blitz as much as other linebackers were who got credit for sacks. But he was as good as anyone in football during his 10 years here with the Titans.”
Bulluck was also extremely durable until a knee injury in 2009 finally wrecked not only a 135 consecutive games streak, but also his decade-long run as a Titan.
“I'd just like to be remembered as an all-around great linebacker. I don't get looked at like some of those other players in other cities,” Bulluck said. “The time I spent with the Giants I definitely looked in their record books, and they definitely have great linebackers. But if I had played there my whole career, oooh!. It's all good. I loved being in Tennessee. I think it keeps you grounded. If you play here in Nashville, I think you've got to be appreciative. You don't have the big media outlets. You don't have all the national attention, but you go out and earn it and it makes you a better person and a better player.”