From the moment he stepped to the podium at the Lions practice facility Thursday until the end of his brief speech, tears slowly streamed down Stephen Tulloch’s face.

The linebacker formally announced his retirement after 11 seasons.

Tulloch played for three teams during those 11 seasons, including a one-year stint in Philadelphia last year, but he was at his best while in Detroit, 2011-15.

“Coming here in 2011 as a free agent was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life,” Tulloch said.

Tulloch averaged 119 tackles his first three seasons and added 107 in his fifth and final season with the organization, despite a diminished role coming back from a torn ACL.

But for everything Tulloch gave the Lions on the field, he arguably had a bigger impact in the Detroit community.

“Not only was he an outstanding player, he was a better man off the field,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “You never had to worry about what he did after he left the building. He was a model citizen, in every respect, but he also found a heart for the city of Detroit and did a tremendous job.”

For his charitable works, Tulloch was named the team’s Robert Porcher Man of the Year four consecutive years. His efforts largely focused on the city’s youth. Corresponding with his jersey number, he adopted 55 community schools. He also was heavily involved in working with families dealing with cancer.