Running back Brian Westbrook recently declared himself retired after nine seasons, all but the last one with the Philadelphia Eagles. In conjunction with the announcement, he re-signed with the team - for one day.
Westbrook became the latest player to engage in the meaningless ritual of rejoining his original team before transitioning back to the real world. This summer, LaDainian Tomlinson adopted the same approach, committing himself for 24 hours to the San Diego Chargers, the running back's employer for the first nine of his 11 seasons before officially taking permanent leave from the NFL.
The purpose of this custom is ... what? Leaving the sport is surely emotional for players, suddenly faced with the realisation that their skills are eroding. They must find some comfort with the ceremonial contract, tapping a source of nostalgia that reminds them of their boundless youth.
Defensive end Alex Brown took part in a send-off with the Chicago Bears, where he toiled for eight of nine seasons. "It shows a level of respect," he said. "I appreciate the club and I think they appreciate what I was able to do while here."
Hey, guys, you are appreciated. Always will be. But the here-today, gone-tomorrow contracts not only are gratuitous, they cheapen the importance of real deals - those that involve compensation in return for actual services rendered.
Let's make a deal and agree to end these silly legal agreements.
Teams can throw a retirement party for a beloved player. No need for him to sign on any dotted line.
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