For fans, this is the time of year that really stinks.Â It’s the raw ugly side of football – the money.Â The business.Â It’s not at all about passion and team loyalty but strictly, “show me the money.”
As a hard core fan, I hate it.Â I hate it because throughout a season you build relationships with players.Â You scream, you hold your breath, you fall in love with your team over and over.Â Then free agency hits and just as quickly as the romance started, the break up begins.
Likely to leave the Steelers and be someone else’s heart throb in 2009 are Chris Kemoeatu, Bryant McFadden and Nate Washington.Â They are some of the best available in their positions and will likely be starters for someone else.
It’s still hard to imagine a player who has been with your team for a long time playing in a different uniform yet it happens every year.Â I shouldn’t be surprised. When AR-el followed the money to the Redskins, I have to admit I was heartbroken.Â That was coming off the Super Bowl XL win and he and Hines and Ben were great together. AR-e’s done well with the Skins, but it’s pretty safe to say he won’t get a ring there – so hope he enjoys the $$.Â You can also see him planning for his post-playing career as an announcer-he already knows the deal. And last year when Faneca left for the Jets, I was upset and worried about the line.Â Faneca left a huge gap in the O-line.Â It hurt.Â All. Season. Long.
Then there’re the Ravens – what are they going to do with Big Ray?Â I can’t imagine him wearing anything other than purple and black and I am sure my readers who are Ravens fans will agree it hurts to see it happen.Â Even Bart Scott may not return to the Ravens.Â What will become of this heated rivalry?
And for those of you following the money trail -Â What does Haynesworth’s $100M deal with the Redskins mean for the future of James Harrison with the Steelers.Â Again, just reiterates why I hate free agency.Â
Typically, the Steelers lay low and let the free agency dust settle before making and moves.Â Obviosuly, by letting Kendall Simmons go after just signing a big contract just 18 months ago…and basically not saying anything to Anthony Smith, the Steelers are clearing room under the salary cap to be able to get some offensive lineman to protect Ben.Â Or at least one would hope that’s the goal.
The one lesson though, is no matter how much it hurts, and no matter how big a mistake I think it is when the Steelers let a great player go (Randel-el, Faneca) you have no argument when they still have won the last 2 of 4 Super Bowl’s.Â Obviously, something is done right – even if I don’t necessarily like it right now.
I’m anxious to see that dust settle, get to the draft and know what we’re working with.