A few days after the announcement, Backus said his decision was an easy one because it would allow him to spend more time with his wife and three young children.
Spending quality time with his family is still Backus’ No. 1 priority, but he’ll also stay involved in football in a part-time capacity.
Backus will join the Detroit Lions’ coaching staff as a part-time coaching intern along the offensive line this offseason. He’ll be helping first-year offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn and first-year assistant offensive line coach Terry Heffernan, when he’s able.
“It really just started with Jeremiah asking me to come in and sit in on meetings and watch some of their workouts and to be a mentor to some of their young offensive tackles,” Backus told Detroitlions.com.
“They don’t have any veteran offensive tackles in the room right now. I still live in the area and he just asked me, when I have time, to come in and do what I’ve always done.”
Backus and Washburn have built a very close friendship since Washburn joined the coaching staff in 2009.
This is strictly a part-time gig for Backus, who completed his career holding the franchise record for consecutive starts (187) and is third all-time in team history for most games played (191).
“My No. 1 thing now that I’m retired is taking care of my responsibilities around the house and taking some trips that we haven’t been able to do and living our life,” Backus said.
“But at the same time, I have a lot of friends with the Lions. I really like the offensive line group. I want to see them succeed. So, when I have time, and I’m available during the offseason program, I’m going to try to be down there and help them out.”
This is an unpaid position for Backus, who said he doesn’t ever envision a full-time coaching role in his future. But he did enjoy working with some of the younger tackles on the roster – including 2012 first-round pick
“I realized that I really enjoyed working with them and teaching them and kind of letting them in on some of the stuff I learned throughout my career,” Backus said.
“When I first got drafted by the Lions, we didn’t have a very veteran group. We didn’t have veteran offensive tackles. I always kind of wished we did, just to kind of learn from somebody.
“What I’m trying to do now is just be available when I can. If they have questions about technique or scheme, they can come ask me. (I'm) a guy who’s played and has that experience.”
Backus wasn’t as athletically gifted as other left tackles coming out of college in 2001, but the first-round selection of the Lions carved out a long and productive career because of toughness and good technique.
That should translate well into a mentoring role. He worked a lot with rookie Reiff after practice last year improving his technique.
“I want to see those guys succeed,” Backus said. “I want to see the Lions succeed.”