In this day and age, loyalty doesn’t mean much more than the paper that it’s printed on. It’s become a lost cause, where one’s whim can change in a second and with it, any former family and alliances can easily be thrown into the street, right?
This rings true in the NFL, though not as severe or macabre as the scenario above, loyalty is tested not only by dollar signs, but also by three numbers that appear after a decimal point – win percentage.
Loyalty is one thing that some players will never know, they are modern day mercenaries selling their talents to the highest bidder. How many NFL players will enjoy a long, moderately successful career and still retire with the team that drafted them?
Even all time greats can’t claim that feat. Some of the biggest names of the last two decades either didn’t make the cut with their original teams, or attempted to prolong their career with a change of scenery.
While in the back of my mind, this was brought to the forefront during my daily perusing of all things Steelers related. I was reading Behind The Steel Curtain’s Steelers Six Pack today and saw the question posed: Which current players will retire with the Steelers?
Quite a few came to mind, James Farrior, Charlie Batch, Hines Ward, Casey Hampton, etc. Those four were the most prominent, most likely names in my eyes, and while they’ll retire Steelers both Farrior and Batch were not drafted by the franchise and thus can’t claim the illustrious title that I mentioned earlier.
That’s not to say that Batch and The Ultimate Farrior aren’t loyal, because they most definitely are. Batch has been a great stand in for Ben Roethlisberger when called upon and Farrior has been a stalwart on a defense that has consistently ranked among the best in the league, and nearly won the Defensive Player Of The Year Award.
But, looking at all of the big names that were drafted by the Steelers, only Hampton and Ward stand out as retirements that are on the horizon that will have remained with their drafting team throughout their careers. When you think of the immense talent that both men have, the market in the NFL for dominating nose tackles and great receivers, and Pittsburgh penchant of being fairly cheap when it comes to retaining and signing talent, it’s a surprise that both of them made it this far with the Steelers.
But, that just goes to show what the organization, no, family means to these two men. Sure, they probably could have tested the waters and made a lot more money elsewhere, especially Hampton – what with everyone and their cousin wanting to attempt a 3-4 defense sometime in the past 10 years.
But, they never even questioned it. Just did their jobs – very, very well, and let nature take it’s course until here they are, years and years down the road and somehow they’ve managed to stay home throughout all of those years.
There are great football players, and there are great men. But it’s only rarely that you find the two coincide.