Every year the NFL starts is new league “year” around this time, and also marks the start of free agency. It is infamously where young rising stars get paid, current stars get overpaid, and people’s favorite players get traded or released.
You can always count on one big splash at the start of the new year. The Buccaneers had a much smaller version of that with the departure of Kwon Alexander, Adam Humphries, and DeSean Jackson. Two of which were very much fan favorites. If you need the mystery taken away of who were the favorites, well you can bank on it that it wasn’t Jackson.
Demands That Couldn’t Have Been Met
Alexander, with San Francisco, and Humphries, with Tennessee, both were served bigger contracts than they probably should have gotten. Yet they did because they found teams desperate enough with a need they could fill.
There is no alternate reality where the Buccaneers would have paid the type of money both demanded to stay in Tampa Bay. Especially Alexander’s deal which averaged $13.5 million per season. It simply wouldn’t make good football sense, and the lack of cap space wouldn’t allow it either.
That said, a good portion of the Tampa Bay area felt some sort of ways about their departure. So much to the fact where a prominent media figure found themselves in the title wave of Tampa Bay emotion. It’s not hard to understand why, these players were likable.
The NFL Is A Business
Over the past few years Tampa Bay residents have grown fond over both players. And the fact that they were lured away by big contracts seemingly spits in the face of loyalty to Tampa Bay. Does it really though?
When it is all said and done, the NFL is a business. This fact doesn’t leave much room for loyalty on either side. It also goes against the notion of a league with some of the most passionate and loyal followers around. A sport where so many devote so much of their time, money, and extra space in their home dedicated to the team that they love.
Without a doubt this passion is the lifeblood of the NFL, but it is a double-edged sword. With that passion comes with a sense of expected loyalty from a player. Simply because they identify that player as a reason they love their team in-part. When that player ends up signing elsewhere for more money, typically the first phrase to be flung around is the astonishment of the lack of loyalty of said player.
No Room For Loyalty
The hard truth though is that despite the deep investment of fans and players to any given team, there is no true loyalty in the NFL. It is a business, and one that comes with some hard truths. One of those truths is that the NFL nor its players are due any loyalty to each other.
Teams are out to protect their bottom line, and players are trying to maximize the amount of money they can get as they know their shelf-life is short. A shelf-life so short that some players don’t even see the end of their rookie deal.
So for the player, it is simply about economics. Players like Alexander know by experience that they are one injury away from not playing football again. Which would also result in not earning a big paycheck anymore from the franchise employing them. So it is understandable that they are trying to secure their financial future any way they can before it’s out of their control.
These facts remind Tampa Bay residents once again that there is no such thing as loyalty in the NFL. It also forces people to recognize as least once a years some of the cold hard truths about the nations most popular sport. Yet followers will keep coming back for more out of their love for the sport.