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For Life?

NFL: New York Jets at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

When the Eagles’ GM Howie Roseman traded TE Zach Ertz to the Cardinals for CB Tay Gowan and the Cardinals’ 2022 5th round pick, Roseman assured Ertz that “you are an Eagle for life.”

When the Broncos traded OLB/DE Von Miller to the Rams yesterday for the Rams’ 2022 2nd and 3rd round picks, Miller was assured by new GM George Paton that “you are a Bronco for life.”

For life? When you just traded them away?

What these trades actually meant —-

  • Tay Gowan and a 5th round draft pick were worth more to the Eagles than Zach Ertz.
  • 2nd and 3rd round draft picks were worth more to the Broncos than Von Miller.
  • In fact, the Broncos were so eager to make the trade that they agreed to pay $9M of Von Miller’s remaining $9.7M salary.

Once the stark reality of these trades set in for Ertz and Miller, they might feel a little less nostalgic.

Both Zach Ertz and Von Miller gave tearful goodbyes to the organizations that drafted them.

Both Ertz and Miller talked fondly about their accomplishments, their teammates, the loyal fan nations and their Super Bowl rings.

Both Ertz and Miller embraced the notion that they will be an Eagle and a Bronco for life.

Both Ertz and Miller and their families had to move (temporarily and perhaps for good) away their homes, their friends, their teammates, their communities and their charity foundations.

That kind of upheaval is tough on anyone.

Coming to a new team in the middle of a season and having to get to know a whole new set of coaches and teammates, plus having to learn a new organizational modus operandi —- is tough on anyone.

Sure, Ertz and Miller now find themselves on teams that currently have better records than the Eagles and Broncos, but their own (now former) teams have been scraping and clawing to to try to get into playoff contention and champions like Ertz and Miller were 100% invested in trying to help their teams win.

And what about the fans?

By now pretty much every NFL fan knows how cutthroat teams can be even with team icons like Ertz and Miller.

The rub is that loyal fans who are forced to say goodbye to an icon must try to think down the road like their team’s front office is by replacing their love for the player with the hope that the new players or draft picks will take the team to a new, higher level of success.

But —- the NFL is a win now league, particularly for the GMs and coaches.

Yesterday, in the ROTB comment section on Seth Cox’s Von Miller Trade article, I offered this perspective:

Imagine being Broncos’ head coach Vic Fangio. He has his team scraping and clawing their way to a 4-4- record, which puts them squarely in the AFC playoff picture and team management just trades away their iconic franchise edge rusher for two 2022 draft picks whom Fangio may never coach if he is fired --- plus the trade doesn’t open up any cap space because team management agreed to pay $9M of Miller’s remaining $9.7M. There is no way a defensive guru like Fangio would encourage management to ship out a player like Von Miller --- certainly not when he has his team in playoff contention and certainly not while his head coaching job is on the line.

To which Jerrytown replied:

Fangio is not coaching for his job. He has already lost it. If you google him or Pat Shurmur, you’ll find lots of articles from the Denver Post about how the fans there are ready to move on. Fangio was Elway’s guy. It’s time for George Paton to build the team his way, and I think he has a bright future as a GM.

To which Chambana81 replied:

They are 4-4, not 2-6 or 1-7. Isn’t making the playoffs the goal? If the Cards were in a similar position, I would be pissed.

To which JT3’ replied:

Imagine being Vance Joseph getting your first big chance to be a HC of the Denver Broncos. And having Brock Osweller, Paxton Lynch and Case Keenum for you QBs. And be fired for not winning...

  • Yup.

What do trades like these —- with 9 games remaining on this year’s schedule —- say to the teams’ fan bases?

  • To the fans of the receiving teams: our team is in a “win now” mode.
  • To the fans of the delivering teams: our team is in a “ try to win later” mode, plus our team is in a likely lame duck coaching staff mode.

Conclusion:

When icons who have given their heart and soul to their organizations are traded away and are thereby told by the GMs who trade them that they are, as in the case of Von Miller, “a Bronco for life”, not only is the GM’s maudlin consolation a contradiction, it diminishes the standard for what it really means to be a player for life.

As a long-time Cardinals’ fan I am so very proud to say:

Larry Wilson (1960 - 1972) was a “Cardinal for life.”

Roger Wehrli (1969 - 1982) was a “Cardinal for life.”

Dan Dierdorf (1971 - 1983) was was a “Cardinal for life.”

Mel Gray (1971 - 1982) was a “Cardinal for life.”

Pat Tillman (1998 - 2001) was a “Cardinal for life”

Larry Fitzgerald (2004 - 2020) was a “Cardinal for life.”

Many fans, like myself and the vast majority of you —- we are “fans for life.”

Therefore, it is a tremendous privilege to know that some of the players who gave us so many great football highlights donned our favorite team’s uniforms, gave us hope and lifted our hearts for their entire NFL careers.

Thank you Cardinals for not trading any of these Cardinal legends.