Loyalty: A word that used to have meaning in sports. Today, though, the concept of loyalty has been replaced by a disgusting emphasis on money.
There are the players that put their heart and soul into a team and still get cut. Realistically, these men are putting their health and safety on the line for their respective organizations, teammates and fans. Concussions and other football-related injuries in the National Football League (NFL) have ruined the lives of a number of athletes, and some have even taken their own lives as a result of the trauma. So for teams to not have loyalty to veteran players who have sacrificed their well-being for the game they love is simply wrong.
It makes logical and monetary sense to cut underperforming members of teams. These athletes did not follow through on their obligations, so the team should not have an obligation to them in return.
But there are many cut players who do not fall into this category. Champ Bailey, for example, played for the Denver Broncos for nine seasons between 2004 and 2013. He recorded more Pro Bowl selections than any other cornerback in NFL history with 12. Last season, he sustained a foot injury and could not play for most of the season. Still, he was and is an amazing player who puts his heart and soul into every competition. Bailey has put in his time and proven, season after season, that he can be trusted and counted on to make plays. He was the undisputed leader of the Broncos’ defense and made an impact every time he stepped on the field. And he was certainly loved by the Denver faithful.
But to save money, the Broncos cut the future Hall of Famer. There are plenty of men on that football team who could have been cut instead to put the team under the salary cap. Quite frankly, many of them deserve to be cut after Denver’s Super Bowl meltdown. Now, at 35 years old, other teams might not be willing to take a risk in signing him, especially after his recent injury.
Similarly, the Dallas Cowboys let go of DeMarcus Ware after eight seasons of service from 2005 to 2013, a career that included seven Pro Bowl selections and league-leading sack statistics. Again, there is no loyalty from the Cowboys to Ware.
It used to be that players would come in and play for one team their entire career. There was virtually no emphasis on money; now, loyalty means nothing to teams. It does not matter to them where the player goes next or if an athlete will ever play again.
Just a decade ago, a fan would be appalled that the Bears allowed a player like Julius Peppers to be picked up by the Packers. Forget winning — today, in this climate of money and power, loyalty is dead.
Juliet Suess is a senior ECLS major. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @WklyJSuess.