Chargers’ center to retire

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SAN DIEGO – Arguably the greatest player at his position in the history of the franchise, Chargers’ center Nick Hardwick will announce his retirement Tuesday, team officials said.

Hardwick played all 11 seasons of his NFL career with the Chargers after being drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 2004. He started 136 games in his career,  108 of those with quarterback Phillip Rivers receiving his snaps.

Hardwick was a pro-bowl selection in 2006 when the Chargers went 14-2 and was part of an offensive line that opened holes for Charger great Ladanian Tomlinson, who rushed for a career best 1,815 yards and 28 touchdowns that season.

The retirement announcement comes as no surprise. Hardwick announced prior to the season that 2014 would be his last. What he didn’t anticipate was how  short his final season would be due to it being cut short by injury. The Chargers’ center only played one game, suffering a neck injury that forced him to sit out the rest of 2014.

Fans and players alike were also tipped off to Hardwick’s plans for retirement as the once-stocky center became noticeably thinner throughout the 2014 season, dropping almost 100 pounds.

Phillip Rivers honored Hardwick by wearing his No. 61 in place of his No. 17 on his helmet.

The press conference for Hardwick’s retirement is expected to start at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

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