By Jason Keidel
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Brandon Jacobs always fancied himself a fighter, a displaced devotee of the sweet science whose body accidentally fit better in shoulder pads than trunks. Whenever a tussle errupted on the gridiron he’d spring into an orthodox boxing stance, though aesthetically speaking, he kept his left a little low for my taste.
But it seems Jacobs’s aura of intimidation was superficial, relegated to snapshots of a truncated career for a mountain of a man who seemed to have it all not so long ago, only to have it flameout on a San Francisco sideline, his career distilled to a caption: Coach’s Decision.
When some clubs release a player you should take notice. When franchises like the Patriots, Steelers, and Giants part ways with a seemingly healthy player in his prime you wonder if his malady resides between his ears. Enter Brandon Jacobs, who, five rushes for seven yards into his career as a 49er, was suspended for the final three games of this season, for no reason. At least not one that Jacobs could fathom.
Perhaps he doesn’t see the conflict in posting Twitter pictures of himself in Giants regalia and sporting his Super Bowl rings, among many Big Blue overtures. Jim Harbaugh didn’t find them entertaining. And like nearly all his moves since joining the 49ers, kicking Jacobs to the curb was provoked and perfectly timed. Unlike Jacobs’s exit, which is ugly, unrepentant, and unnecessary.
More often than not, Jacobs’s moxie came from his mouth. By the time he left the Giants last year to sign with San Francisco, Big Blue fans were rather fatigued, tired of watching the Big Blue bohemoth trot to the sideline after every other play, gassed after a few runs or limping when one of his enldessly long legs got slightly twisted.
For all his size, his 6′ 4″, 265 frame with little fat, Jacobs was surprisingly weak. When you look at Ahmad Bradshaw fight through an amalgam of ailments that would render most men inert for entire seasons, Jacobs always seemed to have nagging injuries, which always vexed his team and our town.
Someone close to Jacobs told the NY Daily News that the running back knows he should never have left the Giants. But as with most men who act like children, it’s too late to fix. Even as emaciated as the G-Men are at running back, there’s no way they’d reconcile with such a petulant player.
Jacobs finished his Giants career with a robust, 4.5 yards per carry, and had 56 rushing touchdowns, the most in franchise history (one ahead of Tiki Barber, another Giant who left under inflamed conditions.) But even 3,000 miles away, Jacobs and the Giants feel karmically connected. In their first, estranged season, neither has fared to well. Would the Giants have been better off with Brandon? Maybe not. But Jacobs certainly misses his former G-Men.
Who is Jacobs? The man-child who bulled through goal line defenses 56 times or the brittle diva who limped off the field two plays later? It’s easy to call a man enigmatic since, in a sense, we all are. But in a pure performance context, where the physical and metaphysical are codependent, Jacobs is, at best, bewildering. It was always so incongruous to watch this 265-pound behemoth trot panting off the field for his nth breather.
When a pro athlete fails to realize his potential there’s usually something more tangible and turbulent behind it. Either he hits his wife, checks into rehab, blows his knee, or blows double-digits into a breathalyzer. But rarely is the failure so opaque as apathy. You can fix an injury or teach technique. But how do you make someone care?
Jacobs is just 30, yet it feels like he’s 40, and perhaps he is in football parlance. Jacobs rushed over 200 times in a season just three times, quite low for a featured back. It could mean there’s much tread left on those tires (to borrow a Bill Parcells metaphor), or that he hasn’t the will to want the ball more.
Either way, it seems Brandon Jacobs’s career is over. Player’s Decision.
Will Brandon Jacobs find a job next season with another team? Let us know below.