Today two of the all-time greats are essentially being forced out of the only teams they have ever known throughout their illustrious careers. Both Ed Reed and Brian Urlacher will be playing for new teams next season for the first time since they entered the league. Neither player could come to an agreement to new, more cap-friendly, contracts with the Ravens and Bears respectively, and will now be taking their Hall of Fame worthy talents elsewhere. This situation has me, and fans everywhere, asking themselves "What ever happened to loyalty?"
Ed Reed has been arguably the greatest safety to ever play in the NFL. He has been an integral part of a Baltimore Ravens defense that has been consistently at the top of the NFL since Reed made his debut for the team in 2002. Reed's contract expired after this year's Super Bowl. A Super Bowl in which Reed was a key component to Baltimore's run to the title. How does such a great player get rewarded for his many years of service to the team and his role in bringing a title back to Baltimore? He gets told that the team can't afford to keep him around and he gets to test the free agent market, ultimately to leave the only home he's ever known to go to an up-and-coming Houston Texans team. In the case of Reed, I find myself asking "Where's the loyalty to the team?". Reed still thinks he has a lot to give, and he does, and he wants to be paid accordingly. If Reed were a little more loyal to the team instead of his pocketbook, he could have stayed in Baltimore, and perhaps Baltimore would have been able to keep more of the team together. Instead, they have now lost all of the key players on their defense and are in pretty terrible shape going into next season.
Then there's the case of Brian Urlacher. He has been the greatest linebacker that the Chicago Bears have seen since Michael Singletary. A safety coming out of college at New Mexico, the Bears took a chance on him and developed him into a surefire first-ballot Hall of Fame candidate. In the last few years Urlacher has been decimated by injuries and he is not anywhere near the player that he once was. He can still contribute, but he is no longer the elite linebacker that he used to be. In this case, instead of the Bears being loyal to a player who has been the rock in the middle of their defense and has been one of the few bright spots in their organization and offering him a contract that allows him to finish out his days in Chicago, they offered him one that basically said "You can take this, or you can get out...we don't care either way".
Both of these situations make me wonder why there is no loyalty in the NFL anymore. I understand that it is a business and you have to make decisions that are the best for the business. But, on rare occasions, might it be better for that "business" to have a lesser player who has been great for both your team and your fan-base than to just toss that player aside the minute he becomes expendable? Loyalty really is dead.
Welcome! My name is Chris Spooner. I am an overly-passionate Dolphins fan who has many opinions about his team, and the sports landscape as a whole. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy voicing them.