Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Goodbye and Good Riddance to Shawn Andrews

Once upon a time, Shawn Andrews was an All Pro offensive lineman. A first round draft choice of the Eagles, Andrews turned out to be a real head case. It began last year, when Andrews missed a big chunk of the season battling depression and then having back surgery. When he did return to the team, Andy Reid shifted him from his natural position, guard, to right tackle, and he proved to be the linchpin of an improved offensive line. However, Andrews is flighty and mercurial, and he seems to be far more interested in becoming a hip hop artist than in playing football, more hipster than offensive force to be reckoned with. Andrews has posted several bizarre videos on YouTube, including an especially strange one called Get Your Michael Phelps On".

This summer, he claimed to be having back problems, and tweaked his back running wind sprints at training camp. Although he was medically cleared to play, Andrews claimed he was in too much pain to take the field, and that proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back. Yesterday, the Eagles placed Andrews on injured reserve for the season, meaning that his career with the Birds is probably over. "Despite receiving medical clearance from back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins late in the summer, Andrews was unable to overcome back pain to get on the field in the days leading up to the opening game of the regular season in Carolina," said a team statement. Read between the lines: Andrews was unwilling to play hurt. In a game where playing hurt is the norm--remember that Donovan McNabb once played an entire game on a broken leg--Andrews doesn't have the heart or the character to do so. A professional football team has no place for someone without the heart and commitment to do what it takes to win.

The fact is that the Eagles have a lot of trouble with the offensive line. With Andrews and Todd Herremans out, the offensive line is the team's biggest question mark. That the Eagles have washed their hands of Andrews under these circumstances plainly says that Andy Reid has had enough of Andrews and that he doesn't view him as worth tying up a roster spot. As columnist John Smallwood put it, "This is the Eagles throwing their hands in the air. This is Reid acknowledging he misread Andrews' commitment to the Eagles. It's cauterizing a wound before the body bleeds out. It's the right move. A football team cannot thrive with players like Shawn Andrews around. The bond in a locker room comes from each player believing that each of his teammates is willing to sacrifice for the whole."

Clearly, Shawn Andrews was not willing to make that sacrifice, and clearly, Andy Reid decided it was time to remove a cancer from the locker room, much as he did with Terrell Owens. Good riddance.

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