Although the various sports that graze our television screens are mainly for our entertainment, you have to keep in mind that the sports world is a business. Time and time again players are cut or forced to retire from the team that they have played with for years. The most recent example that the sports world is in fact a business is the cutting of Dez Bryant from the Dallas Cowboys. Players get older and franchises try to remain young, but here are a few athletes who were burned by the teams they loved.
The Dallas Cowboys had a decision to make where a 30 year old receiver with his best days behind him wanted too much money. Dez is one of the greatest wide receivers of a generation and should be regarded as one of the best Cowboys of all time, but that doesn’t mean the Cowboys owe him anything. The Sports realm is very much a “What have you done for me lately” world, and Dez hasn’t been a shadow of himself in recent years.
Other players have suffered the same fate throughout the years. Landon Donovan is arguably the greatest US born soccer player we have ever had, and is one of the faces that caused most of the current national team to start playing soccer. Donovan was cut from the USA soccer team in 2014 by new coach Jurgen Klinsmann and was unable to play in the World Cup in Brazil. Donovan was 32 years old, but it was almost unanimous amongst fans that Donovan should have been in the lineup. In hindsight, the player that the USA coach brought instead of Donovan was the young talent Julian Green who was playing at Bayern Munich at the time. The real reason to bring Julian was so he had no shot of playing for the German National team in the future.
Another name in the forced to retire category is Pittsburgh Steelers former wide receiver Hines Ward. Ward, one of the greatest to ever catch a ball in Black and Yellow, was cut and released in 2012. Hines Ward had played for the Steelers for 14 years and was still able to catch the ball after his 14th season due to his outstanding ability and change of play to elongate his time on the field. The Steelers had other ideas, cutting Ward in favor of Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, then known as “Young Money”. Although Ward had offers from other franchises, Hines decided to hang up his cleats and retire as a Steeler for life.
When it’s all said and done, I don’t blame players like Le’Veon Bell asking for what they are worth. Many Steelers fans believe that Bell should just “Shut-Up and Play”, not really putting into consideration that todays athlete is a piece of the puzzle, no matter how large that piece is. Almost every player is interchangeable at that level, except for the small few who know what they are worth. The question does come up if money of Championships mean more to these athletes, but when a Franchise has the opportunity to drop you for almost no reason, I say take care of yourself and your loved ones.