When you follow a team as long as most of us have, you start getting attached to the long standing players. For example, Willie Anderson is my favorite player. Obviously because of his talent, but mostly because of his loyalty during a time that fans would understand a player's desire to leave Cincinnati. He stayed. He spoke to the fans directly saying exactly what needed to be said. When Corey Dillon spoke about anything, Anderson said shut up. When Chad went overboard giving other teams too much locker-room fodder, Anderson said shut up. If Anderson were ever to leave or retire, the Bengals would truly miss a great player and person.
In a way, you can apply that to Simmons. A Bengals linebacker for his entire career, we grew up watching him play. You get attached to players that stick around for a long time, sometimes over-rating their talent. But that doesn't matter because Simmons has done a tremendous amount for the city and, like Anderson, stuck around through very difficult times. So you honor their loyalty by over-looking a player's shortcomings.
See ya, Brian. Hope you find a place to work and, in the end, retire as a Bengal.
Here's the official press release:
Simmons, a 10th-year NFL player for 2007, was a Bengals first-round draft choice in 1998 and has played all nine of his previous seasons for Cincinnati. He has played in 121 games with 115 starts, compiling 896 total tackles, 23 sacks, 11 interceptions, 43 passes defensed, 14 forced fumbles and 8 fumble recoveries. He has scored three touchdowns, two on interception returns and one on a fumble return.
"This was not an easy decision to make," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. "Brian has been a fine player on the field, and he has been a great example to all of our players as a team leader and a citizen.
"But a new NFL year is about to begin with the start of free agency, and this allows us to best position our team under the salary cap to move forward for 2007. It will afford us options for signing other players who are a better overall fit, given the strengths and needs of our current roster. This could include our own unsigned players, or players from other teams.
"We thank Brian for his years of great service for the Bengals, and we wish him the very best. We know he has been a favorite among our fans, and it has been our privilege to work with him."
Simmons missed five games and three additional starts in 2005, due to a neck strain, but he came back to play in the last five games and start the last three. He finished the year with 11 games played and eight starts, and ranked fourth on the team in tackles (78) while leading the front seven in passes defensed (8).
He led the Bengals in tackles in 1999 and finished second on the team in six other seasons.
JD agrees that the move is both shocking and head scratching.
Under the heading Best of Life of Brian, Hobson says don't count Spikes out:
The word is that Spikes won’t be going back to Buffalo this season and some expect him to get cut. But he’s also 30 and has had major Achilles’ surgery so the Bengals won’t roll out big money for him. But he’s got the leadership and explosion in the middle this defense is still seeking.
How close are the two? Spikes was one of the first people Simmons called Wednesday when he got the news.