Joe Staley established a legacy as one of the best offensive lineman to ever play for the San Francisco 49ers, as his six Pro Bowls are tied for eighth-most in franchise history and the most for an offensive lineman in the 75-year history of the franchise.
The only accomplishment to elude Staley in his illustrious career? A Super Bowl title. Staley made two Super Bowls with the 49ers, but San Francisco was unable to capture the Vince Lombardi trophy each time.
In Staley's retirement conference call, the three-time second-team All-Pro left tackle reflected on the missed opportunity.
"It's not about accolades, it's not about doing stuff to get noticed," Staley said, via Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News. "Whatever you're doing you're trying to give your best at. You're trying to win and be the best you can be. The Super Bowl is the best thing you can do, to win a Super Bowl. It sucks, it really does to not be able to win that."
The goal for NFL players is to win the Super Bowl, but Staley won't hang is head over failing to win one. The 49ers came within three points of defeating the Baltimore Ravens in Staley's first Super Bowl appearance (Super Bowl XLVII), as an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal with under a minute left cost San Francisco its sixth Super Bowl title. The 49ers had a fourth-quarter lead against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, but were outscored 21-0 in the final quarter in another missed opportunity.
Staley played through that game with a hand injury in what turned out to be his final NFL contest. The loss will sting Staley, even though it won't haunt him.
"I've been watching football since (I was) five and I saw the joy it brings players to win that and hoist that trophy in the air. To reflect on that journey and how meaningful that would be for me and the team, but it wasn't in the cards," Staley said. "I gave everything I had to the game of football. I definitely didn't leave hanging my head in that respect.
"I did everything I could do, but for whatever reason it just didn't happen for me or for us. It's frustrating, but it won't torment me for the rest of my life."