Nick Hardwick of the San Diego Chargers. Photo credit:
Nick Hardwick of the San Diego Chargers. Photo credit:

San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick announced his retirement on Tuesday during a press conference at Chargers Park, after an 11-year career—all with the Chargers—in which he started 146 games, and made a Pro-Bowl in 2006.

He was also the team’s Lineman of the year on three different occasions (2011-13), and was placed on the Chargers’ 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 2009.

“I am so proud to retire from the NFL having spent my entire career with the San Diego Chargers,” Hardwick said Tuesday. “I want to thank Dean Spanos and the entire Spanos family for bringing me to San Diego, and I especially want to thank all of my teammates, the coaches and staff members who allowed me to spend 11 memorable seasons with the greatest organization in professional football.

Hardwick, 33, was drafted by the Chargers in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft out of Purdue, the same year that quarterback Philip Rivers was drafted.

Due to a neck injury suffered in Week 1, Harwick was unable to play for nearly the entire 2014 season.

Rivers had a very close relationship with Hardwick, and wore his  No. 61 on the back of his helmet to honor him during Week 2 this season

It was highly suspected that Hardwick would retire due to a visible weight loss that saw him fall from 293 pounds to 208 pounds, but did not want to announce anything until after the season ended in order not to cause any distractions, according to U-T San Diego.

“I wish I could play forever, but this game has a finite life and it’s time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life,” Hardwick said.

What’s next for the long-time center?

The Chargers will hold a press conference tomorrow where it’s expected that Hardwick will officially announce his retirement.

After that he hopes to work with the media, and the Chargers organization.

Next in line to take over the role as center presumably would be second-year offensive lineman Chris Watt, who filled in for Hardwick during the latter part of last season.