Detroit Lions OL Considered Retirement During 2022 Season on IR

    Veteran Detroit Lions lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai reportedly gave thought to retirement during the 2022 season that he spent injured.

    Detroit Lions offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai, an enemy to journalists everywhere for the cumbersome amount of vowels (12!) in his name, nearly walked away from the game last season. Still, he has plenty of reason to want to play football in 2023.

    Halapoulivaati Vaitai Nearly Hung Up His Cleats

    How about $3 million to start? Even though that figure did represent a substantial pay cut for the offensive guard (per the Detroit Free Press), it’s still not an easy dollar amount to walk away from.

    Not to mention that Vaitai’s coming back to a Lions team that made it to the precipice of the postseason a year ago. It ought to be enticing to imagine being part of the Lions team that ended a playoff win drought of over 30 years.

    And the Lions are no doubt the sort of team an offensive lineman should want to play for. They were in the top half of the league in rushing attempts and yards last season and seem even more committed to that identity now after spending a top-12 pick on rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs.

    Those factors notwithstanding, the 29-year-old Vaitai apparently gave some thought to retiring after sitting out injured for all of 2022.

    He disclosed this, albeit somewhat off-handedly, in a recent interview with Justin Rogers of the Detroit News:

    “After surgery, I was like, ‘Let me just rest. Let me just enjoy this time,'” Vaitai said Thursday. “And then when I started training again, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m not ready to retire yet.'”

    MORE: Kenny Pickett Has Car and Playbook Stolen

    It doesn’t sound like Vaitai got so far as filing his retirement papers, but he did spend five months out injured. That’s a lot of time to mull over a career choice. And Vaitai said he wasn’t sure about his desire to return to the gridiron until he got back to working in the weight room.

    But it didn’t take long for that desire, that competitiveness, to remanifest itself.

    “I can’t leave all my guys,” Vaitai said. “I can’t leave them. I love this team a lot. I’m going to help Dan (Campbell) win one.”

    Whether or not Vaitai returns to Detroit’s starting lineup after his year off is uncertain. The team added a sturdy veteran (and former Lion) in Graham Glasgow.

    The 30-year-old Glasgow has 91 career starts under his belt and will be a worthy challenger for Vaitai. But the former Super Bowl champion swing tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles doesn’t sound like he is going to shy away from a little competition.

    “I feel like I took a step back — now I’ve got to catch up and then keep going,” Vaitai said. “I’ve got that chip on my shoulder, so I’m going to come back strong.”

    Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

    Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

    Related Articles