GREEN BAY – A scout for the southeast region at the time, Brian Gutekunst was pretty sure Josh Sitton was going to make it as an NFL player.
It took all of one day in pads in his rookie training camp to confirm it.
"He's one of the better offensive linemen I've ever scouted," said Gutekunst, now Green Bay's general manager, as he introduced Sitton on Friday for the offensive lineman's official retirement as a member of the Packers. "He's one of the players that put me on the map. I really fought for Josh in the draft room.
"When he came in here, about the third rep of his Packer career, we knew we had a good one and we knew he was going to be a good one for a long time."
Drafted in the fourth round in 2008 out of Central Florida, Sitton went on to play eight seasons at guard for the Packers, earning Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro recognition three times each. From 2009-15, he started the most games by a Packers offensive lineman (110), finishing with 125 total starts in Green Bay (112 regular season, 13 postseason).
Sitton didn't believe all that was in his future during his rookie offseason, though. The big-bodied guard didn't feel he got off to a great start in the spring, but when the pads went on in August, his abilities really started to show.
That "third rep" Gutekunst referred to, Sitton pegged it from the one-on-one pass-blocking drill in training camp, and he thought it might have come against defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins. ("We'll call it Cullen," Sitton joked. "He was pretty good.")
Holding his own against a veteran pass rusher in a full-contact drill was just the boost of confidence Sitton needed, especially after not getting invited to the Senior Bowl or NFL Scouting Combine.
"That was the moment I said, OK, I think I'm going to be around for a while," he said.
Sitton handed out a long list of thank you's on Friday, including one to former Packers personnel executive John Dorsey for pushing him to go to the Hawaii Bowl to get on scouts' radar in the pre-draft process. He also mentioned former tackle Mark Tauscher, who always told him not to take the game too seriously.
He was a full-time starter on the Super Bowl XLV team in 2010 and forged lifelong friendships with position coach James Campen and several teammates, particularly his fellow offensive linemen. Two of his linemates, Bryan Bulaga and David Bahktiari, were in attendance Friday for Sitton's final words in the Lambeau Field media auditorium, along with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Sitton's wife, Kristen, with whom he now has two young children.
Sitton sports a new hairstyle these days, having cut the trademark long hair that used to flow out the back of his helmet. Still a big football fan, he's now involved in a real estate development company in Florida and quipped that he has traded his "football look" for a "GQ-model-acting look."
Having originally announced his retirement from the NFL this past April, Sitton decided to retire as a Packer while in town this weekend as a featured alumni player. The return visit was planned with fellow guard T.J. Lang, a close friend and teammate for all but his rookie year in Green Bay. Lang, drafted in 2009, also retired this past offseason.
Former Green Bay Packers guard Josh Sitton visited Lambeau Field to officially retire as a member of the Packers.
"I said I'm not doing it unless T.J. and I are doing it together," Sitton said of coming back for a Packers game. "Our friendship is deep. We grew up together here in Green Bay, grew as men and grew as football players. My relationship with him means a lot, with T.J. and his family. He's a very important person to me, as many of these guys are."
Sitton finished his pro career in Chicago (2016-17) and Miami (2018) after being surprisingly cut at the end of training camp in 2016. He holds no ill will – "Everybody gets dumped in this league, it's just part of it," he said – and is looking forward to seeing just how far this current Packers team can go.
"There was something special about that 2010 team, and I think they've got that this year," he said. "Whatever that 'it' factor is, I think they've got it. They're probably one of the most complete teams they've had in Green Bay in a long time. They're definitely built to make a long run into the playoffs."
Check out photos of recently retired Green Bay Packers G Josh Sitton. During his time with the Packers, Sitton was named to the Pro Bowl three times (2012, '14-15) and selected second-team All-Pro by The Associated Press three times (2013-15).