Earlier this season, I wrote about training camp and the fact player cuts are inevitable. During that time of year, every player knows their job is on the line and they are competing for a career -- not just a roster spot.
Well, long after training camp ended and eight games into our season, the evaluation process continues. Most of us players are aware of this fact. We know every snap that we get on the field is an opportunity for evaluation.
If your post-game evaluation comes up positive, then you continue to build the coaches' confidence in your abilities and more plays will come your way. If you continuously grade out poorly, your playing time diminishes and, so too, does your role on the team.
At this point in our season, we have not done enough as a team to warrant us standing pat. If we all played perfectly, we would not be sitting tied at bottom of the West. Therefore, some change is to be expected. Personnel changes will be made in order to climb to where we should be by the end of the season. Let's face it; if nothing is done we will go nowhere.
This past week, the Calgary Stampeders made a couple of mid-season moves in order to shake things up. First, we released linebacker Tony Bua and then more recently, we let go of wide receiver Marc Boerigter.
Both players arrived under different circumstances. Tony was a promising CFL rookie with tremendous potential. Marc was a former Stampeder and a key player in Calgary's 2001 Cup run. After five years in the NFL, he returned to help anchor and already all-star cast of receivers.
Both players, for whatever reason, have met a similar fate with this team. It is always hard to see teammates leave mid-season. Especially after going through many battles together. But such is the business.
I have been in Tony and Marc's shoes before so I can speak from experience. Being released mid-season is one of the most humbling and shameful experiences a player can go through.
In 2001, I was a rookie with the Dallas Cowboys. Although our season was not going well I was living a dream. We went 2-6 in our first eight games. It seemed like every week new guys were coming in while others were being shipped out. It was a revolving door as the organization was trying to steer the ship right by finding the right combination of guys.
We played our eighth game against the Falcons in Atlanta and, unknown to me, that would be my final game as a Cowboy. I returned to Dallas and went in for film evaluation and training Monday.
And on our day off on Tuesday, I was released. It was a very quick meeting with head coach Dave Campo. He said the team has chosen to go in another direction and thanked me for my service.
It was awful. It hit me like a ton of bricks -- except that they were being dropped on me one at a time. I cleared my locker and that was it. I left the Valley Ranch Practice facility like a thief in the night. I did not want anyone to see me toting a black garbage bag with my shoes.
I was gone. I was too ashamed to call any former teammates. To this day, I have only spoke to a few of my former Cowboy mates. I also had a hard time letting family and friends know, but they already knew. Television, newspaper, and Internet have a way of ruining any plans for information control.
I sat for a few weeks with my wife in a one-bedroom apartment in Dallas wondering what my future in the NFL would be. It was a very tough but insightful time in our lives. We relied upon each other for strength and maintained faith that something would break for us.
Eventually things worked out and after a long three-week break I was back in the NFL playing for the Cincinnati Bengals.
For guys like Marc and Tony, this is a very uncertain time. Hopefully they will land on their feet and have another opportunity to do what they love. For the rest of us, it's time to move on and use their example as a reminder that we are never safe and someone is always watching what we do.
HITS TO THE HEAD
- I'm sitting here writing while watching Sunday Night Football. I am pretty amazed by the fact new Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is only 34 years old. That's three years older than me. How odd that some guys have been coaching longer than he has been alive and never even get a sniff at the NFL. I guess it all has to do with timing.
- A former university teammate and fellow longsnapper J.P. Darche is among the many Canadians that are vying for a shot in the NFL. J.P. had been flawless in six previous seasons in Seattle. I wish him the best in training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs.
- And speaking of the Chiefs, their Super Bowl hopes now rest in the hands of 11-year backup quarterback Damon Huard after losing Trent Green in a contract dispute.