By Steve Silverman
» More Columns
There’s a strange dichotomy when it comes to Major League Baseball and the National Football League.
You can easily recall the sendoff that Yankees superstars Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter received when they decided to announce their retirements. They were feted at every venue around the American League that they had ever played at and went out like conquering heroes, which in fact, they were.
The Red Sox’s David Ortiz received at least as much love last year after announcing that the 2016 season would be his last. And just as Rivera and Jeter were received warmly at Fenway Park, Ortiz was given a generous “attaboy” at Yankee Stadium by the full-throated fans.
Everybody lock arms now and start rocking side-to-side as we sing “Kumbaya.”
Now, let’s look at what is going on in the NFL. Three news items from Tuesday reveal just how differently the two top sports in our society go about their business.
The Minnesota Vikings are not picking up the option on running back Adrian Peterson. The Jets have announced they will be releasing cornerback Darrelle Revis. The Kansas City Chiefs sent running back Jamaal Charles off into the abyss. I assume he got a hearty handshake from head coach Andy Reid, but there are no assurances.
They all just get escorted out of the building, in the NFL sense.
The NFL is a brutal league in which teams are wont to discard their stars at a moment’s notice. It doesn’t matter what you have done in the past or how much you have helped your team win. If there’s any downturn at all, it’s time to be sent out the door.
In the case of Charles, it’s basically all about injuries. When he was on top of his game, his ability to explode through the hole and then cut back quickly made him a one-of-a-kind runner. Peterson was a combination of high-level speed and unchecked power, and he was basically unstoppable when he was on top of his game.
Revis ranked with the all-time bests during his first go-round with the Jets. He was able to stick with the very best receivers in the league and shut them down one-on-one. Deion Sanders could do that when he was at his best, although Jerry Rice was known to beat him from time to time.
It appeared the aging process was catching up with Revis the past couple of years, and the fact that he had played with two other teams in Tampa Bay and New England prior to his second run with the Jets may have taken some of the sheen off of his reputation with Jets fans.
But the point is clear. The NFL remains a nasty and hard business with no time to give past heroes a warm and wonderful sendoff.
You want a rocking chair to enjoy your golden years, here’s a foot in the rear to help propel you to the furniture store where you can buy it yourself.
Even worse than the way the stars are treated is what happens to the players at the bottom of the roster on an every-week basis during the regular season.
You’ve seen it for years as players are shuttled from the active roster to the practice squad and from the practice squad to the street. Every team in the league will make moves on nearly an every-week basis with their lower-tiered players.
When you look at it in the small type of the transaction pages, you tend to give it little attention. But players are getting fired for little or no reason every week.
It’s a brutal life for players who sacrifice their bodies every day in practice.
The NFL knows how to drain every bit of juice of out of its players and then send them packing. It’s unlike Major League Baseball, or the NBA and NHL for that matter.
Is anything going to change? No, but we should all be aware of the cost of doing business in this multibillion-dollar enterprise.
Tuesday’s unceremonious maneuvers with Charles, Peterson and Revis just drives that home.
Please follow Steve on Twitter at @Profootballboy