It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday, as players in the NFL routinely come to realize. This time around, it's legendary long snapper L.P. Ladouceur, who looked forward to returning to his beloved Dallas Cowboys for a 17th season only to be notified the team had other plans. After coaxing him away from retirement in each of the past two seasons to re-sign consecutive one-year deals, the Cowboys and special teams coordinator John "Bones" Fassel are opting to instead sign former Los Angeles Rams long snapper Jake McQuaide to a one-year deal -- parting ways with Ladouceur in the process.
It was a wildly unexpected move by the Cowboys, but one that lends to Fassel putting his signature on the special teams unit that much more in his second year with the team. As for Ladouceur, it was admittedly a tough pill to swallow, but he's not crawling into a hole following the news -- instead hoping to find a new NFL home this coming season.
It would be the first time he's ever put on another uniform.
"I'm not thinking about retirement," Ladouceur told Todd Archer of ESPN. "Obviously the years are definitely stacking up against me, but if it's two more years? OK. One more year? OK. And if we're done, that's not a problem.
"I'm very satisfied with where I am in life and my career football-wise."
That said, there's still something he craves from his otherwise perfect football resumé.
"There's one thing missing and that's that elusive championship," he added. "That's what you play for. But my body feels great. I feel like I can do this -- give it a good shot and I can definitely help a club."
A living Canadian legend, Ladouceur entered the ranks of the NFL as an undrafted free agent of the New Orleans Saints in 2005, but that stay was short-lived. He was released ahead of the regular season and signed with the Cowboys not long thereafter, and the rest is history. He's since appeared in 253 consecutive games and while that's good enough for second-most in franchise history, the Pro Bowler was only three games away from surpassing future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten (255) for first place -- making the Cowboys decision to say goodbye that much more curious to some.
But for Ladouceur, it's all about looking forward.
"The way it ends is sometimes the way it begins," he said. "They're going in a different direction. When I signed with the Cowboys in 2005, they made a quick decision on the snapper they had and signed me. Sometimes it's a bang-bang thing. I think they just wanted to go in a different direction.
"I understand that."
That doesn't mean that, after more than a decade and a half, the split doesn't sting a bit.
"When I was told, I was right next to my wife [Brooke] and was like, 'All right, the Cowboys are moving on,' and she was like, 'What?'" Ladouceur said of his family's initial state of shock. "Did it affect me? Sure. It always does. But you look at the positives.
"There's too many positives to worry about one little negative. I still have a ton of people in that facility that I love, that I enjoy speaking to. I've gotten a ton of texts and calls from everybody. So that's really cool to see there's a relationship with a lot people, and it just shows that I was loved and wanted and needed.
"And that's been nice."
And as for falling just shy of Witten's all-time mark?
"He was the face of the franchise for 16 years pretty much," Ladouceur said of Witten, who is set to retire a second time. "He's been a tremendous player, tremendous person in the community. So playing second fiddle to Jason Witten ain't bad."
That sums up the totality of Ladouceur: a class act from the beginning to the bitter end.