By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) I appreciate when someone realizes that he or she just cannot ply their trade productively any longer.
I respect when someone decides that he or she is merely bleeding an employer of money not well spent. So, in a sense, I do not begrudge Olin Kreutz for his decision yesterday to walk away from the New Orleans Saints as far as him being unselfish right now and not going through the motions, hurting his team’s play on the field, and cashing undeserved checks.
“He decided, ‘If I can’t bring that same passion every day to work, I’m not gonna just sit here and collect a paycheck,'” Kreutz’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, said. “That’s the way he is. Olin’s a little different than most guys. People say all the time that it’s not about the money. That’s really how it is with him. It never has been.”
Very noble of the guy. Seriously. But there is a problem with all that.
Six-plus weeks into an NFL season really should not be the time a player has such an epiphany, especially not a guy like Kreutz who has been lauded his whole career for being a leader and one of the “smart players” we so rarely see in the NFL. These Samsons don’t just lose their hair on a random week.
Anybody who watched Kreutz in recent years knew that he was in need of the football equivalent of Cy Sperling about two years ago. And many pundits and writers and fans tried to tell him this past offseason while he haggled with the Chicago Bears, “Hey, Olin, you ain’t got it no more, pal, so you’re not exactly in a position to barter.” Jerry Angelo and Co. knew that, too, and thus let Kreutz walk away from a more than fair contract offer… one worth more than what he ended up taking from the Saints, in one of the more puzzling financial moves I can remember in sports.
Some Chicago fans bemoaned the move by the Bears, citing a zest for the game that Kreutz supposedly had (I’m trying not to type the phrase “fire and passion.”). How about now, Vote 4 Kreutzers?
As Kreutz has long been known, often praised, for a stubborn demeanor that sometimes translated well on the football field, this time that stubbornness has kicked him and an organization like a mule. While one half of the coin appears unselfish, the other half screams quitter and detriment.
Making such a choice in an offseason would be fine, but when a team invests in you, especially at a starting spot and one that has a domino effect on other positions as center does, the choice looks dumb and retrospectively so. This smacks of Kreutz not wanting the Bears not wanting him to be his final chapter, and in going out on his own terms he instead looks more dopey than the chivalrous.
The Saints may not be happy with all this, nor should they be. One of their captains—again, a captain—just up and said, “I’m done with this.” But, perhaps, they may be ecstatic, as Kreutz was not performing well, and his backup, Brian De La Puente, had actually played better in the opinions of some. Certainly, Saints fans will have lost some respect for Kreutz, though.
And many Bears and football fans in general may as well, and I wouldn’t blame them. As many argue Kreutz is Hall of Fame-worthy, might this have an effect on those fence-riders with votes? Only five guys who played predominantly center in the modern era are enshrined in Canton, so it’s not exactly a position the voters look too favorably on. Kreutz’s credentials merit the HOF selection in my opinion, but I’m just saying (and I don’t have a vote… yet).
Olin Kreutz should be remembered for several great things. What he will be remembered for, though, to many fans and critiquers of the game, would be that he was a hell of a lineman for many years, but also that he walked out on his team midseason. It is unfortunate that any player should leave such a legacy.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.