Passion is a required ingredient for success in any profession, and that especially applies to football. When a players’ passion diasappears, so does his career.

After years of taking the physical pounding on Sundays and beyond–in practice, training camp, and offseason workouts–it’s common for a players’ passion to gradually evaporate. When Kerry Collins initially retired this past summer before eventually unretiring to join the Colts, he said that although his passion for football remained, it wasn’t at a level that drove him enough to prepare for another season.

Earlier today Saints center Olin Kreutz came to the same seemingly inevitable conclusion. But he did it abruptly in mid-season, when the summer sun is long gone, and the training camp grind is far in the rear-view mirror. Kreutz’s sudden departure shows just how much his passion had dwindled at the age of 34 and during his 14th season.

Injuries were a factor after Kreutz missed two games this year due to a sprained MCL in his left knee. His agent Mark Bartelstein appeared on the The Waddle and Silvy Show in Chicago where Kreutz played for 13 seasons to explain what led to his client’s decision.

“He called me on Monday and Tuesday and said, ‘I don’t know if I can keep on doing this. Went in and talked to (coach) Sean Payton and (general manager) Mickey Loomis and expressed it to them. They tried to talk him out of it. They wanted him to stay and he actually thought he was going to give it another whirl and called yesterday and said, ‘I just know, it’s not in my heart. I’m not going to keep collecting a check if I know deep inside me I can’t bring what I need to bring to play every week.’ “

Kreutz wanted to finish his career with the Bears, but a summer of very messy and very public negotiations prevented that from happening. Bartlestein speculated that emotionally Kruetz never fully recovered.

“It hurt him a lot the way it went down with the Bears. He wanted to finish his career with the Bears, so I think there’s a part of it. But how much, it’s hard to say.”

The formality of releasing Kreutz could be completed by New Orleans in a few matter of days, or alternatively he could be placed on a reserve list, although Bartelstein said the Saints made it clear that if Kreutz has a change of heart they’d welcome him back immediately.

While Kreutz deserves credit for demonstrating class, the Saints are now left without their six-time Pro Bowl center.

Mark Tennant has filled-in for Kreutz, and he started all 16 games last year. But he’s a second-year player now asked to anchor an offensive line blocking for a rushing attack that’s ranked 18th, and only has 12 rushing touchdowns over the Saints’ last 18 games.