Football, like people, can be described in many ways.
Sometimes, it is a blood, thirsty business, while other times, it is a safe haven from all the chaos in our lives—a place where family, friendship, and loyalty are at a premium.
Many people I have met stopped watching the Dallas Cowboys when Tom Landry was fired from the head coaching position.
Tom was on a golf course when he had the news broken to him. The first words he said were, "You've taken my team away from me."
At a press conference, while announcing his retirement, he broke down in tears. The man in the funny hat, who had been criticized by people and who blindly hated the Cowboys, showed the ultimate emotion—the emotion of pain.
From then on, people hated Jerry Jones for his actions, because to Texas, Landry was the Cowboys as much as the Terrible Towel is Pittsburgh.
However, there is another way of looking at that situation. It was a business transaction, pure and simple.
Jerry Jones wanted to do what was best for "his" team, and he felt that Tom Landry's old style coaching methods were not the best thing for Dallas.
In a way, he was right, since Dallas won three Super Bowls in less than a decade later.
Is that always the case though?
Take my example shown and modify it to a player instead of a coach, and free agency instead of a firing.
Recently, many writers, who are also hardcore fans, are being tested strenuously by free agency.
And all this because the Philadelphia Eagles' management would not give him the contract he desired. In his words, "I was not just a want for them," he said. "They felt more like it was a necessity for me to be here."
It is not like they couldn't afford him. According to statistics, the Philadelphia Eagles had $40+ million under the salary cap. So, why not give him a contract and let him retire?
Is it because they think he is an aging, expendable tool that has served his purpose? I don't think it is because they want to send him to a team that has a great chance of winning the Super Bowl, seeing as how the Broncos did not even make the playoffs last year.
Is it so hard to let the fans have their favorite player be theirs and only theirs?
When has this man ever said he wanted to leave Philadelphia?
This is just the latest in player tragedies.
In my opinion, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could not have won the Super Bowl without the 2002 Defensive Player of the Year.
Derrick Brooks had four defensive returns for touchdowns in that miracle season and another one in the Super Bowl.
Yet, business comes first and so comes the release of Brooks. In fact, the only big play guy from that 2002 Super Bowl team's defense that is still left is Ronde Barber.
John Lynch is gone, Warren Sapp is gone, and now Derrick Brooks is gone. All of them are arguably Hall of Famers and not one of them got to be known as an one-team player. That is, unless Derrick Brooks retires.
Of course, people will say that they were hurting the progression of the new draft picks who are supposed to take their spots. How is a rookie going to learn how to handle the NFL if an aging player stays in his place?
But Brett Favre was a quarterback who wanted to continue a consecutive-starts record by a quarterback. Derrick Brooks is a linebacker who made the Pro Bowl last year and still makes big plays.
Why couldn't Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor stay with the Dolphins? Can anyone explain to me why LaDainian Tomlinson should not be a Charger next season? (He still is a Charger but there is speculation of him being cut)
Granted, I'm glad Zach Thomas returned home to Texas, but I still don't understand why he had to leave Miami, concussion or no concussion.
If the guy is a defensive player, it is simple—ROTATE!
I can put a strong safety in for this series, and then toss in the up-and-coming guy in for the next series. This can, arguably, work with running backs, wide receivers, and maybe offensive linemen.
Of course, it can't work with quarterbacks because there are too many variables. Yet, how many of the players have I mentioned are quarterbacks? Only one.
I, personally, am fed up with a lot of this. Where is the loyalty in sports? I thought sports was about brotherhood, about going out onto that field and making sure every single one of your guys came off of it.
About being there when they are injured and beating the living daylights out of the guys who injured them.
About bonding together as a unit in that locker room. About becoming a family.
Jonathan Ogden of the Ravens retired a Raven. Emmitt Smith and Larry Allen signed one-day contracts to retire Cowboys.
However, those are few.
Doesn't it bother you to know that Fred Taylor, Brian Dawkins, Derrick Brooks, Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, John Lynch, Brett Favre, Mike Vrabel, Marvin Harrison, and maybe LaDainian Tomlinson and Ray Lewis will or have retired as something they are not?
Let these men retire with the people that have watched and loved them since the day they were drafted.
Stop breaking these fans hearts.
(To all those who have lost a player close to their hearts, I offer you my sincerest condolences)
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