Bulger's retirement and what could've been

Rumors swirled in recent seasons that Marc Bulger, former Pro Bowl quarterback for the St. Louis Rams, was contemplating retirement.

Bulger had taken so much punishment during his final years in St. Louis, the thinking went, that he had lost the will to continue in the game. Bulger hung around for one last season, spending 2010 as a backup with Baltimore. But he was indeed finished.

Bulger's retirement plans, revealed Wednesday by ESPN's Adam Schefter, come one year after the Arizona Cardinals considered bringing him in as a stopgap starter.

At his best, Bulger was a highly accurate passer and competent heir to Kurt Warner as conductor of the Greatest Show on Turf in St. Louis. He once completed 36 of 48 passes for 453 yards against San Diego, tossing four touchdown passes without an interception. He had four other games with at least 440 yards passing. But the Rams posted only a 1-2 record in the playoffs with Bulger. The team and organization began deteriorating around him as the years progressed, exposing Bulger to repeated beatings.

Bulger finishes his career with 122 touchdown passes, 93 interceptions and an 84.4 rating. The Rams were 26-10 when Bulger started from 2002-04, his first three seasons with the team. They never posted a winning record with him in the lineup thereafter. Bulger finished his career with a 41-54 record as a starter, including 5-30 over his last three seasons.

Tight end Anthony Becht, Bulger's teammate on the 1-15 Rams of 2009, blamed the Rams organization for Bulger's demise as a player. He said the team was unwilling to spend on its offensive line, exposing Bulger to punishment that left the quarterback without the necessary drive to continue.

"Congrats, my friend, on a spectacular career that could have been that much better," Becht wrote.