Banned from loyalty

It’s well documented that the Titans barred Steve McNair from entering the team facility yesterday. It’s a hard thing for long-time Titan fans to handle, and it puts in question a lot of unwritten rules about being a fan. It stared with long-term but older players like Blaine Bishop and Randall Godfrey getting the boot a few years ago. Then the team released Eddie George in 2003 after telling him that they wouldn’t do so. Jevon Kearse left without a contract offer. Last year top players like Antrel Rolle and Derrick Mason were signed by the hated Ravens, and the Titans didn’t even get draft-pick compensation since both players were released. What’s a fan to do?

Ditch the jerseys. My dad bought a Yancey Thigpen jersey when the Titans moved to town. I think Roydell Williams has the number now. His solution was to rip the name plate off the jersey, which is one way to do it. A couple of years ago the NFL switched to Reebok to supply jerseys, and the price for a replica went from $50 to $75. I tend to find mine on ebay but I’m going to stop buying current player jerseys. Don’t paint me as anti-ownership, though. The players can share the blame for the epidemic of musical teams.

The Titans created this monster of a $23 million salary cap number for McNair by repeatedly moving his money around to save cap room in years past. It worked brilliantly, except for the team playing like a pile of garbage for most of the past two years. It only makes sense that if McNair were to lessen the salary cap hit, he should get something in return. That’s why his agent Bus Cook is playing hardball and the Titans felt reduced to making the bush-league move of keeping McNair from practicing with his teammates.

McNair has been a model teammate, despite his documented brittle nature. Colt fans may whine about it, but McNair deserved his co-MVP in 2003. The Titans finished one Drew Bennett drop from taking out the mighty Patriots while Manning got to dissect one of the worst playoff defenses ever in the Kansas City Chiefs. Only due to the rapid decline of Eddie George was McNair allowed to use his considerable gifts as a field general. While he may be past his prime, he’s far from finished.

The current salary cap system is partially to blame for this situation as well. Players want guaranteed money, and that comes only in the form of a signing bonus. The signing bonus is a large portion of an extended contract, but generally speaking those contracts are back-loaded to the point that it’s not cost-effective for teams to let them play out. Remember Eddie George in that regard. It’s sort of like credit-card debt. You can put it off but eventually you have to pay. That’s the situation that the Titans and Steve McNair are in. It’s too bad that a deal couldn’t have been made in the spirit of their long time working together.

Speaking of the situation, why didn’t McNair make more of a fuss when he was sidetracked at the door of the Baptist Sports Complex? Do you really think the team would have forcefully taken him off the premises had he refused to go?

As a fan, I refuse to buy another jersey for a current player in this climate. It’s apparent that fans have to think of their team much like a fantasy squad. Every guy is expendable. The Patriots have to deal without Adam Vinatieri, and Titan fans might have to watch Steve McNair throwing passes to Derrick Mason in a Ravens uniform. And we have to pretend that we’re numb to the whole situation.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes