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Kyle Orton and the search for the NFL’s liberals

The Bills quarterback retired on Monday and was uncommon in speaking about his values. But there is a feeling things are changing

“I just have been going at it for 10 years, and it’s just a family decision, and I’ve decided to get home and be a dad and call it a day,” Kyle Orton said in a brief statement announcing the end of his playing days on Monday morning. With that boring and sensible sentiment, he concludes one of the NFL’s more medium-notable careers. Orton literally slipped out the back door in lieu of discussing his retirement further with beat reporters, presumably because he felt the above quote sufficed. There is nothing else to explain, no tributes to a glorious career. What made Orton remarkable was not his dubious ability to throw a crisp 15-yard out, but his politics.

His playing career did not stand out. It was maybe his lack of charisma or that he resembled Cousin It after a seven-mile run, but Orton was something of punchline since entering the NFL as a failed Heisman candidate who fell from prospective first overall pick to the fourth round due to injury and a not-wholly-impressive senior season at Purdue. In his rookie year, he was thrust into the Bears’ starting job and did not, erm, thrive: a 51.6 completion percentage, nine touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in 15 games. He spent the next two seasons on the bench.

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