Lito Sheppard: Selfish Player or Mistreated Employee?

Orlando MoralesCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2008

Just one phrase during the Eagles 48-20 victory on Thanksgiving, shows how far Lito Sheppard has fallen: "And starting at cornerback, No. 21 Joselio Hanson!" Lito has gone from one of the leagues top shutdown corners to a fourth string dime-back who is prone to the big play.

Throughout the entire 2008 campaign, Sheppard has either been caught peeking in the backfield or just beat like a little child down the field. And I don't think it's because of lack of talent, I don't think this kid wants it.

Plays where he used to easily bat the ball down or make the tackle have turned into big plays for the offense.

Sheppard, who came into camp clearly angered at the fact Philly gave his starting spot to free agent Asante Samuel, worked hard to beat Sheldon Brown out for the right corner spot.

Brown was deservedly given the job, and it seems as if Sheppard has just given up on trying to win.

To me that is absolutely awful. For those who disagree with me, watch the 53 yard touchdown reception by Mark Clayton two weeks ago.

It's not just a handful of plays from a couple of games, it's been a dilemma throughout the year. The blame doesn't simply fall on the lap of Sheppard alone. The front office has handled this situation horribly, Jeff Lurie and Andy Reid in particular.

In Lurie's annual State of the Eagles address during training camp, the Eagles' owner took a jab at Sheppard with a stat not even recognized by the NFL. Lurie stated, "very hopeful that Lito will have a terrific season, show us and the league that he's back to old Lito, feels healthy, he's got great play-making ability, and certainly a lower YPA and just really performs the way that we know Lito can.''

Now Jeff, if you're going to jab idiotically like that at your players with stats, use the number of pass deflections, INT's or tackles, not his "YPA." For those who don't know, YPA measures the number of throws aimed a cornerback's way, the results of each throw and the number of yards gained against each player. I remind you that the NFL doesn't recognize this as an actual stat. It's measured by ESPN stat chief KC Joyner (says a lot about the stat doesn't it).

Sheppard who was ready and willing to leave Philly in the offseason, sarcastically responded: "I guess he's got to find something bad against me, huh?" At the time I thought Lito would have a great year and stick the YPA jab in Lurie's face, but clearly I was wrong."

The Lito vs. the Front Office war has since quieted down during the regular season, but will surely fire back up once the season ends. This relationship has taken a turn for the worse in the past few years and needs to be ended.

Lito's contract goes through 2011 which certainly gives the Eagles options, but will they make him live up to his contract or trade him away and save themselves the circus? Only time will tell.