Mike Pouncey has retired from the NFL, but the 33-year-old ex-Miami Dolphins center is still living the dream.
Pouncey, who has lost 70 pounds in the last year and now weighs 228, signed a one-day contract with the Dolphins on Thursday for the purpose of retiring as a Dolphins player.
“It means the world,” said Pouncey, a three-time Pro Bowl selection during his seven seasons (2011-17) with the Dolphins.
“I always said I was going to be a Dolphin for life, and I meant that.”
Pouncey, the Dolphins’ 2011 first-round pick whose career ended after the 2020 season, wore an aqua Dolphins alumni sports jacket while speaking Thursday. His son, Kayden, and Kayden’s mom, Chrissy, were there along with his twin brother, Maurkice.
In the locker room, Pouncey was often smiling, upbeat and in good spirits.
He was a go-to guy for the media because of his knowledge, talent, candor and sense of humor.
He was a hole-opening beast as a center, leading the way for 1,000-yard seasons from running backs Reggie Bush (1,086 yards in 2011), Lamar Miller (1,099 yards in 2014) and Jay Ajayi (1,272 in 2016).
Pouncey was one of the franchise’s best first-round picks of the past 20 years.
He’s a two-time winner of the team’s Don Shula Leadership Award and also won the Ed Block Courage Award.
“When I think about Mike and his days here, Mike was not only a great player, Mike was also a great community activist,” said Nat Moore, the Dolphins’ head of alumni relations. “And he exemplified leadership at his greatest.”
But Pouncey has a complicated Dolphins legacy.
In July 2013, twin brothers Mike and Maurkice, who was at Thursday’s event, were photographed at their birthday celebration at a Miami Beach nightclub wearing “Free Hernandez” hats in reference to New England tight end Aaron Hernandez, a Pouncey teammate and roommate at Florida, who, at the time, was accused of murder. He was eventually convicted.
Mike Pouncey was served a subpoena related to the Hernandez case after a New England Patriots game in October 2013 and subsequently had to miss a practice to testify before a grand jury in November 2013.
Mike Pouncey was named in the Wells Report in February 2014, and implicated in the so-called Bullygate incident in which it was determined Mike Pouncey, guard Richie Incognito and guard John Jerry harassed Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin, another offensive lineman and a team trainer.
Mike Pouncey admitted he’s grown up a lot since those days.
“If I thought [then] how I thought now, I’d still be with the Dolphins,” he quipped. “That’s part of just growth, man.
“I swear, I look back at it I’m like, ‘Dang man, if I was just a little bit more mature when I was playing…,” he said.
“But that’s part of what makes you a good player, that edge that you bring. I have no regret over what I did here and I’m very proud of my career that I had here. Obviously now just trying to be looked at in a different light, in the business world.”
Emotion has always been something Mike Pouncey wore on his sleeve.
Mike Pouncey was brought to tears on April 13, 2015, when the Dolphins signed him to a five-year extension worth almost $50 million. He expressed gratitude to the Dolphins for standing by his side throughout the aforementioned issues. At one point he said he wasn’t worried about receiving the extension.
“I always had faith I would be a Miami Dolphin for life,” he said.
Mike Pouncey was released by the Dolphins on March 15, 2018, in a money-saving move. The same day the Dolphins traded with San Francisco to acquire center Daniel Kilgore.
Mike Pouncey signed a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2018 and started all 16 games for the Chargers while earning his fourth Pro Bowl berth.
An October neck injury ended his 2019 season, and September hip surgery ended his 2020 season.
Maurkice was asked what it was like to glimpse his twin brother’s career.
“It’s so crazy that people always ask that question,” Maurkice said. “I always looked up to Mike. Mike was the better player in my eyes.
“I think Mike’s path was a lot harder than mine. I played with Big Ben [quarterback Ben Roethlisberger], I had [wide receiver] Antonio Brown, [running back] Le’Veon [Bell] and all the great players. For him to have the success he’s had and the way he’s viewed down here it meant a lot more to the family.”
Mike and Maurkice announced their retirement on Feb. 12, 2021.
Since then, they’ve done well for themselves.
They now own a distillery in the Wynwood area of Miami, Tropical Distillers, that offers a variety of liqueurs and they have real estate holdings, including a hotel.
We’ll see how much Mike Pouncey is involved with the Dolphins in the future.
What’s known for now is he wants to chill for a while, be a father and a businessman, and then coach at some level.
“I’m just waiting for my son to get to high school,” he said. “Right now I’m just enjoying his little league process. But as soon as he goes off to high school, I’ll start my coaching career.”