Ross Tucker
Friday August 21st, 2009

Is there any other professional sport that discards players as briskly and unceremoniously as the NFL? Longtime stars go from heroes to zeros in the blink of an eye. I mean, how is it possible that guys like Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison and Derrick Brooks can't even get a decent contract offer?

I know those players and many others, like Pete Kendall, Warrick Dunn and Corey Chavous to name a few, are no longer the players they once were. Just because they have name recognition and might have merited All-Pro consideration in the past five years does not mean they can still play at a high level now. But these guys were still productive players last year. James and Harrison, in particular, were each significant statistical contributors on playoff teams in 2008. Now they are just trying to find a gig while hundreds of young no-names line the training camp rosters across the league.

To be fair, a decent amount of these 30-something's likely would be on a roster if they were willing to play for the league minimum or in a reduced role. But I think teams are missing the boat on some of these guys; they could provide more value than realized. Yes, they are older and there are some inherent injury and production risks that go along with that. I also know many teams prefer to try to find a younger, cheaper, healthier player.

But the NFL has become a one-year league for the most part because 2010 isn't really promised to anyone at this point. And you can't tell me that some of these players can't gut it out and get the job done for one more season. If you don't believe me, maybe you'll believe Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick. Their teams, the Chiefs and Patriots, respectively, have made a habit this offseason of snatching up veterans that many teams shy away from because they presume they are over the hill.

The Patriots have brought in guys like Fred Taylor, Joey Galloway and Shawn Springs, which is somewhat understandable in most people's eyes because New England is a championship quality team. But the Chiefs aren't supposed to be anywhere near a championship any time soon and they brought in old vet after old vet. Mike Vrabel, Mike Goff, Zach Thomas, Bobby Engram and, most recently, Amani Toomer. Clearly Pioli thinks players like this can potentially help that football team. The question is, why doesn't anyone else?

Let me dig in to your mail and tweets, keep them coming ...

After your article about Brett Favre's dangerous signing, if they have a very good year are you going to write an article that maybe you were wrong? Perhaps things are being made worse by your article? Is anything short of a Super Bowl victory complete and utter failure for Favre and the Vikings? --Joe Maher, Colorado Springs

I am not sure I will ever get around to writing a specific mea culpa article with so much else going on at that point of the year, but you will all know that I was wrong and I will have to talk about it virtually every day on Sirius NFL Radio. As for your second question, I appreciate the compliment but highly doubt my columns or opinions carry enough weight to make the Favre situation any worse. Or better for that matter.

I really feel as if the Vikings are going "all-in" with this move; I respect it but don't agree. To me, anything less than an NFC championship game appearance is an abject failure for this team now. If the Vikings win one playoff game or even two, was this move really worth it? I would say no.

I'm wondering what future plans do the Vikings have now? At best Favre can only go a year, then what? I doubt Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels want to stick around after being told one thing and showed another. Hey, Brad Childress, actions speak louder than words! --Mike Delgado, Minneapolis, Minn. (currently serving in Iraq)

Thanks so much for your service and question Mike. Your point, in essence, is one of the biggest reasons I don't like this move, especially now, and especially after Favre said just three weeks ago that he felt beat down physically and didn't feel like he could play this season. I don't think the Vikings are a one-and-done team. All of their best players, like Antoine Winfield, Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen, are under contract for the foreseeable future. The window is wide open. Why not try to build with Jackson or Rosenfels and give it a legit shot over the next three years? Doesn't seem as likely now, that is for sure.

I disagree with your Eagles article, because the Donovan McNabb benching for Kevin Kolb scenario is what got us to the NFC championship game. McNabb got benched like he deserved and it forced him to step it up, play better and be more aggressive for the remainder of the season. Without that happening, we don't make the playoffs last year. --Scott Friedmann, Wyomissing, Pa.

Actually, the Buccaneers and Cowboys completely falling apart down the stretch is the main reason the Eagles made the playoffs last year. The Eagles hadn't exactly held up their end of the bargain by laying an egg at Washington. But they certainly made the most of it once they got there and looked great against both the Vikings and the Giants. If McNabb needs to get benched to play well, then the Eagles have bigger problems than the signing of Michael Vick.

Did you even listen to McNabb's press conference? He is in favor of bringing Vick to Philly, even said he advocated it. You should do a little more research before filing your story. Someone who didn't see the press conference may get the wrong impression based on your article. --Kevin Caviston, Philadelphia

Yes, by all accounts it appears as if McNabb is totally on board with this move. My question would be why? Let's assume that it is all about the team and winning and give McNabb the benefit of the doubt. At that point I would be concerned that McNabb thinks the best way for the Eagles to win games is to take the ball out of his hands. Can you imagine Peyton Manning or Tom Brady lobbying to bring a player on the team that would likely entail some plays where they are not under center? And thinking that gives their team the best chance to win? I can't.

Based on the preseason play of Leftwich & McCown, who do you think will start? I think McCown is like Shaun Hill. A "gamer." --prof_joe via Twitter

It looks like the Buccaneers are leaning towards Byron Leftwich over Luke McCown. Leftwich has the most experience of all of the candidates and appears ready to be a starter again after playing well in a backup role for the Steelers last season. I personally thought McCown played pretty well a couple of years ago when he got an opportunity in Tampa Bay, but it appears the organization is down on him at this point. The reality of the situation with the Bucs is that Josh Freeman will end up being the quarterback sooner rather than later.

Could you give us your take on what it must be like to play on the Raiders? Total Chaos team that they are ... --larzjg via Twitter

I don't know and really can't imagine. Guys that have played for several teams, with the Raiders being one of them, tell me it is truly unique and different from any other franchise. I had always thought it would be a cool experience with the Black Hole, Silver & Black and the Raider mystique, but there has clearly been a lot of dysfunction in Oakland recently, with the Tom Cable-Randy Hanson incident just the latest example. Hard to imagine this ship getting righted any time soon, even though this team has decent talent.

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