Brian Westbrook officially retired as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles today. In December the team will honor the former running back during a game against Washington. A stabilizing force for eight seasons, Westbrook amassed 5,995 yards on the ground and 3,790 receiving yards. When Donovan McNabb had one one of “those days” it was Westbrook who’d bail the team out with a 40-yard run or game winning punt return. The Eagles are right to celebrate his contributions to the team in front of their fans later this year, and it’s even sweeter that it will come during a game versus the Redskins, one of the teams Westbrook haunted for years.
I have zero qualms with honoring a player after he’s retired. Glancing up at the ring of honor at Ralph Wilson Stadium during game day is one of my favorite things to do. I just have one request: can we please stop with these bullshit one day contracts that feature a former star smiling with the management team that cut him after the star’s broken down body was no longer of use?
I’m not denigrating society’s need for half-assed gestures that provide a brief emotional lift – not sure where I’d be without them. But there’s something intrinsically stupid about this.
LaDanian Tomlinson’s departure from the San Diego Chargers was marred by petty sniping between general manager A.J Smith and L.T. During his farewell press conference the running back stated he could see himself back in San Diego once Smith was no longer the G.M. Charger teammates felt that team chemistry would improve with Tomlinson’s departure, and last year the TCU product said the Jets were the best organization he had ever played for.
On June 17 the Chargers announced they would sign Tomlinson to a one-day contract so that he could retire with the team that he started with. And in case you needed confirmation that all was right with the world, the San Diego Union-Tribune ended their tribute to Tomlinson with a truly vomit inducing “A Charger once. A Charger always again.”
Junior Seau signed a one-day contract with the Chargers in 2006 only to unretire four days later and sign with the Patriots.
There’s more. Derrick Mason, Brian Dawkins, Torry Holt, Fred Taylor, Ike freaking Hilliard, David Tyree, Aaron Glenn, Joe Horn, Isaac Bruce, Zach Thomas, Jason Elam, Larry Allen…the list continues.
There are some less egregious than others, but the entire concept is reduced to a mockery when the likes of Hilliard, Tyree and Glenn partake in this glorified hug fest.
This summer Kordell Stewart (!) signed a one day contract with the Steelers. The guy hadn’t played in the NFL since the 2004-05 season. Alex Brown signed one after playing with the Bears for eight seasons. I guarantee Chad Johnson will sign one with the Bengals when reality hits. Terrell Owens and San Francisco? Book it. A statue of Randy Moss’ buttocks will be erected in front of the Vikings new stadium when he eventually signs his.
Please stop. Put them on the wall and honor the greats. For a league that treats its ex-players with such disdain the whole thing is bizarre. Kordell Stewart! Unbelievable.