It’s no secret that quarterback is the most glamorous position in professional sports. Regardless of whether we’re talking about in the movies or in real life the story remains the same – the job comes with great responsibility, but successful signal callers get the girl and the big payday. That being said, how’d you like to be Jason Campbell this week?
Coming off his first full season as a starter, the Washington Redskins quarterback suddenly finds himself in the unenviable position of “where will I be this time next week?” Remember, this is a guy who eight games through the 2008 season was being championed by guys like Peter King as a possible NFL most valuable player candidate. Now, because his employer cannot help but fall in love with big-name star appeal, he very well might be house hunting in the very near future.
As everyone knows by now, Jay Cutler is on his way out of Denver. The Broncos, led by first-year head coach Josh McDaniels, thought they had a chance to acquire Matt Cassel from New England and made a play for him. For whatever reason, it didn’t work out and Cassel ended up in Kansas City. More times than not the general public never knows when trade talks like this take place, but Denver’s flirtation with Cassel backfired and alienated Cutler.
After earning a trip to the Pro Bowl and throwing for more than 4,500 yards and 25 touchdowns, Cutler felt disrespected that the Broncos would even consider life without him. Because Denver even contemplated the move, Cutler is now hell bent on making it a reality, allegedly refusing to return phone calls when the owner and/or head coach tried to reach him.
Which brings us back to Campbell. Wednesday should have been a low-key day off for the four-year veteran. He spent the day at a charity event and the evening with his girlfriend and teammate Renaldo Wynn taking in the Capitals hockey game against the New York Islanders. But during the course of the game, rumors were flying that the ‘Skins were very much involved in the Cutler sweepstakes and by the time the Caps secured the 5-3 win, ESPN was reporting that the Redskins were shopping Campbell for a second-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft in hopes of gaining more ammunition for a Cutler deal.
”I want to be here, I feel like there’s a lot I want to accomplish and that’s what I’ve been working to do, but you know it’s not in your control,” Campbell told the Washington Post yesterday. ”All I can do is just keep doing what I’m doing, working hard and waiting to see what happens.’
Campbell went on to say, “With all the stuff out there, you know crazy stuff happens in this league. You just have to be ready for anything.”
The most telling comment from Campbell came next.
“A bunch of trade talk is what got Cutler mad at Denver, that’s the reason all that stuff started with him, but I wouldn’t do all that,” he said. “The thing you understand that there’s no loyalty in this game, so you just have to work hard. That’s all you can do.”
And that’s why I can’t help but shake my head at the whole situation. The reason all this is going on is because Cutler got his panties in a bunch after hearing the Broncos wanted Cassel.
Like a drama queen catching her husband checking out another woman, he stomped his feet and threw a hissy fit until the world knew he felt wronged. Instead of saying “suck it up, you’re under contract,” the Broncos have chosen to wash their hands of Cutler and build their team around someone who actually wants to be in Denver.
The only thing Campbell can be faulted for is being employed by a team that simply cannot help itself. Cutler represents the newest, shiniest toy on the market and that’s something Daniel Snyder has never been able to resist. Let me ask you a simple question – when have you ever heard that the Redskins were interested in acquiring a marquee player, either as a free agent or via trade, and it didn’t happen? Whether we’re talking about Clinton Portis, Albert Haynesworth or any of a dozen other names in between, if the Redskins want a name player, they typically get him regardless of cost.
My only hope is that if/when this does go down that Campbell ends up in a favorable position. He’s a down-to-Earth guy and a promising young talent. At 27 he’s got his best and brightest days as an NFL quarterback ahead of him. Just because the ‘Skins front office is the original fantasy football team doesn’t mean he’s done anything wrong. I’d love for him to stand up and defend himself, but he’s simply too classy to ever speak out against the team or the situation in general. That’s why I felt the need to do so on his behalf. It’s unlikely, but maybe for the first time in recent memory another team will outbid the Redskins for Cutler and Campbell will remain in town. If not, here’s hoping Campbell’s next destination is more appreciative than Washington of the player they’re fortunate enough to acquire.
Oh, and don’t be surprised if this eventual move tides the Redskins front office over until next season when they run Jim Zorn out of town in favor of Mike Shanahan (a.k.a. – the next shiny, new toy). Again, they simply cannot help themselves. They really can’t.
Brian Murphy is an award-winning sportswriter who also goes by the name Homer McFanboy. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.