Robert Thomas

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Bob Thomas, a one-time NFL placekicker whose second career led him to the state’s highest court, is retiring.

The Republican announced Monday that he will leave the Supreme Court at the end of February after 20 years.

While he was chief justice from 2005 to 2008, he established the Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, an outgrowth of a committee studying judicial civility.

Thomas kicked the winning field goal in the 1973 Sugar Bowl to give Notre Dame the national championship and is the Chicago Bears’ fourth-leading scorer of all time.

State appellate court Justice Michael J. Burke will replace him.