Dan Orlovsky, who grew up throwing footballs through tires with his father at their home in Shelton and went on to lead the Gaels to a state championship in 2000, officially announced his retirement as a professional football player.
Orlovsky, known statewide as the quarterback who led UConn’s foray into Division I football in the early 2000s, announced his decision on SportsSpectrum.com Wednesday morning.
“It’s time for my journey as a football player to come to an end,” he wrote.
Orlovsky, 34, was a three-year starting quarterback for Shelton. He threw for 2,489 yards, 58 touchdowns and led the Gaels to a 22-8 victory over Greenwich in the 2000 Class LL championship. It was the school’s first unbeaten season since 1956.
He was the New Haven Register’s All-State Player of the Year, Gatorade State Player of the Year and numerous other awards. He held most of Shelton’s passing records until 2014, when they were surpassed by Mark Piccirillo, now at Wesleyan.
Eschewing more established schools, Orlovsky signed with home state UConn, then a Division I-AA program on the verge of joining the Division I-A ranks which was two years from completing Rentschler Field.
Orlovsky started midway through his freshman and never relinquished the position. By his junior year in 2003, UConn had become a Division I-A program playing at Rentschler and Orlovsky was seventh in the nation as a passer with 3,485 yards and 33 touchdowns. As a senior, Orlovsky threw for 3,354 yards and 23 touchdowns and led the Huskies to their first bowl victory, a 39-10 win over Toledo in the Motor City Bowl.
— Sean Patrick Bowley (@SPBowley) October 7, 2017
He holds UConn records for career passing yards, touchdown passes, passing yards per game, completions and total yards. He also is a single-season record holder for passing yards, touchdowns and consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
Orlovsky was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He spent the majority of his 12-year NFL career with the Detroit Lions. He mostly served as a backup, but did start seven games during Detroit’s 0-16 season in 2008.
He completed 143 of 255 passes for 1,616 yards and eight touchdowns against eight interceptions that season. But became an ignominious symbol of the Lions’ struggles when he inadvertently stepped out of the end zone for a safety during a 12-10 loss to the Vikings.
Appreciate who you are as a former player, person and Father. You will be fine! Congrats on a great career. You did everything the right way
— Randy Edsall (@RandyEdsall) October 11, 2017
A few years later, Orlovsky took over as the Indianapolis Colts quarterback and led the team in a comeback victory over Houston.
Orlovsky spent the remainder of his career as a backup and a mentor. He played with Houston and Tampa Bay and eventually returned to the Lions in 2014. He was cut after last season and then by the Los Angeles Rams in September. He threw for 3,132 yards, 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his NFL career.
He spent time coaching with his former coach Randy Edsall at UConn in the spring while competing his degree. Last week, Orlovsky returned to Shelton High School with his family — wife Tiffany, triplet boys Hunter, Madden and Noah, and daughter Lennon — to accept his induction into the high school’s inaugural hall of fame.
“I don’t know what is next, and thats [sic] the questions everyone will ask me,” he wrote. “I don’t know if it is going to be in coaching, or TV or business, but I do know that everything I learned in football has given me supreme confidence in wherever that step goes.”