An offseason filled with optimism hit a slight bump in the road today when news broke that the NFL has suspended Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington for the entire 2014 season. While it was initially believed this was a result of his domestic violence conviction, it turns out this is actually his second straight offseason substance violation. His promise to change and work harder last offseason turned out to be empty. Washington has let us down once again. Washington may not see the field again until mid 2015 or beyond, and at that point, it should be and probably will be with a different team.
It’s been a great relationship at times with Washington. The promise he showed us as a rookie developed onto one of the best linebackers in the game. He added a new dynamic to last year’s defense when he returned from his last suspension. Unfortunately, as we get closer to a season in which many of us feel this team is a contender, it’s time to face a sad reality, bringing a Lombardi trophy to Arizona simply doesn’t mean all that much to Washington.
As bad as Washington’s offseason was last year, between a substance abuse violation and a domestic violence incident, we quickly forgave and embraced Washington. It wasn’t hard to either, his impact after a four-game suspension was big and immediate. After a 10-6 season, which saw Arizona transform from a good up-and-coming team to a possible contender, players and fans alike see an upcoming season where the sky is the limit. Cardinals players have largely spent the offseason improving and readying themselves for a postseason run.
Unfortunately, it’s quite obvious that one of the anchors and supposed leaders of this defense has not been. This was amplified by a tweet from Darnel Dockett earlier in the day stating the lack of surprise in the locker room at the news of the suspension. Read into that how you choose, but it’s obvious that the locker room knew this problem never really went away.
What should be even more disappointing is that Washington knows he is one of the play makers on this defense. Washington knows what his presence means to this defense and to this team. Washington knows this team is close to making an extended playoff run. Washington knew all of this, and yet chose marijuana over his team and his fans. At this point in his career, Washington just doesn’t seem to have the same commitment to winning that his teammates have.
For a franchise and a fan base desperate for their first Super Bowl championship, it’s becoming obvious that this relationship with Washington simply will not work. Will we wish him the best? Of Course. Unfortunately though, our goals and Washington’s goals just do not match. It’s time to let Washington go.