By John A Poole
Updated: April 4, 2008

Maryland—I can remember when a player would play with a team from the time he became a star to the time he left the game. Players like Hank Aaron, Cal Ripken, John Elway (still don’t agree with what he did to the Colts) Mario Lemeaux and Magic Johnson. These players didn’t leave to try another team because they were offering a little more money. No, they played with the teams and for the fans who loved them.

It’s sad when you turn on a sports game and you say to yourself, “I didn’t realize so and so was on this team now.” Free agency has changed the sports field as we know it and have known it for years and years.

You have owners who are looking to trade a player 1-2 years before his contract is up because he knows he can’t resign him when the time comes. Teams that just come out and tell their players to “shop yourself around if you want to,” just so they can prepare themselves because they know the loyalty has left the game for good.

It was nice watching the old rivalries of the Celtics and Lakers, or the Yankees and Orioles, or even the Packers and Bears games that have left you speechless in the past. Now, the stigma has passed. The Packers play the Bears and all you know is that Farve and Urlacher are the only 2 constants in the game. You watch the Lakers play the Celtics and all you hear is how Kobe wants to test the free agent market because he has never had the chance. Well, excuse my French, but WHO THE HELL CARES! This kid has won 3 titles and if him and Shaq could get their acts together they could probably win 3 more.

Are we supposed to feel sympathy for a man who is making over $100 million a year in salary and endorsements? NO! Am I supposed to feel sympathy for an athlete because he wants to play closer to his home roots where he was raised? NO! Ya know one of the only reasons we allow it is because in a way we do feel sympathy for them. We take sides when a player says he wants a team of his own. But before I go any further. Think about that last sentence. He wants a TEAM of his OWN. Doesn’t that contradict itself?

It’s all about the money and free agency these days. Just the other day the Washington Redskins told Champ Bailey, maybe the best cornerback in the world, to go ahead and make some calls and see what the trade waters look like. Why would a team, that is rebuilding and has one of the best linebackers in Lavaar Arrington, and the best CB in Bailey tell him to test the waters? Because they are scared that at the end of the year he would be a FREE AGENT and leave the team and abandon them with nothing to show. The Celtics never had to worry about that with Bird or the Bears with Walter Payton.

Now, there is a name worth mentioning. Walter Peyton played on some of the worst teams in football history in the mid-70’s but never complained in public. He never did a Terrell Owens and threw a temper tantrum on the sidelines or in the press’ face because they were losing. He went out there each and every day, fought in the trenches with his team and eventually won himself a title.

Take Michael Jordan for instance. Yeah, he left to play baseball and yeah he ended his career in the Chocolate City (D.C.) but do you remember the teams he played on before he won? They were bad. Did he say I need to leave because I want a title? No, he made his teams better.

To me if you want to be a superstar in this day and age, whining and complaining is not going to get it done. Saying you need to be traded because you want to win that ring is a cop out. No disrespect Gary Payton, but you should have won your title with the Supersonics!

Now, it just seems like everyone is taking the stance of my man Leon from the Bud commercials. “There’s no I in team. Well, there isn’t a WE either.” Hopefully we can get back to the basics. Just playin the damn game!