The NFL has never been a cornerstone of justice. Through cunning and brute force, you take whatever you can get. Anquan Boldin, who never resented the man who shattered his face in New York, should know this better than anyone.
Except the Cardinals’ Pro Bowl wide receiver is blinded by anger, or jealousy, or greed. He should know the cost of his actions.
As a child in Chicago, I loved the stinky Bears for one reason: the singular toughness and greatness of Walter Payton. His nobility made losing bearable. The punishment he dished out on defenders was enough retribution to get us all through the week. For years, football fans in Arizona felt the same way about Boldin and the Cardinals. Along with Adrian Wilson, Boldin is the foundation on which the current team stands.
But as his pity party continues, the love affair is ending. People are getting tired of Boldin’s sour mood, and by design, his Q rating is plummeting. He’s trying to make you, me and the team so sick of him that he must be traded elsewhere. What a terrible way to go.
Look, Boldin’s beef with the Cardinals organization is surely legitimate, and I’m sure the facts support his case. He’s long been an underpaid contributor, and the Cardinals have often been a heartless organization.
Boldin is most angry with General Manager Rod Graves, alleged to have made contractual vows he had no intention of keeping. And in the end, we all understand the great inequity at wide receiver, how Larry Fitzgerald has banked $50 million in bonus money, and that his most recent contract effectively prevented the Cardinals from giving Boldin what he deserved.
But that’s life. That’s football. And in a league that will break your face any given Sunday, it’s a bit hollow for Boldin to get hung up on a broken promise.
With his leverage reduced to a water pistol, Boldin should stop this fight immediately. His sulking is getting old, and he may have just lied to the team to avoid practicing in the first minicamp. This stuff adds up. He needs to smell the roses, and note the shifting winds.
Boldin should realize he has no chance of winning sympathy. Not in this economy, and not after the team ripped up his original contract earlier in the decade, rewarding him with $10 million in bonus money. Boldin took the short-term security then, diminishing his case in 2009.
It should be enough to Boldin that this team has a special window of opportunity. If he comes back and plays with a pure heart, the Cardinals are good enough to return to the Super Bowl. If he swallows his pride and honors his contract, it can be his team again. He can restore his good name and get that big money in the near future. Come on, Q. This should be the time of our lives.
It’s not fair that rookie Matthew Stafford will deposit $41.9 million in bonuses. It’s not fair that Ken Whisenhunt coached his team to the Super Bowl in 2009, and is scheduled to earn less than new Chiefs head coach Todd Haley, a former Cardinals assistant.
But the market waits for no one. The market doesn’t care about justice. And neither does the game of football.
“Given where we are, in this economy, this is not the right time to be talking about money,” Whisenhunt said.
If only Boldin could find a moment to utter those words.