I remember when I was a kid, there was a young man in my class that I secretly couldn’t stand. We would be out on the playground together, shoot hoops and what not, nobody was none the wiser. But, every year around his birthday, I would act up in an effort to not have to attend his birthday party. Inevitably, I would see him at school on Monday, and apologize profusely that I couldn’t be in attendance on his one day out of the year that he was glorified. I wasn’t sorry, I was extremely elated. That is how I feel about the news of Willie McGinest calling it quits. Best part is, I didn’t even have to urinate in my mom’s gardenias to make it happen.
I have the utmost respect for the way McGinest plays football. At least I did when he was a Patriot. Willie came here a few years ago, and essentially gave us the same production Emmitt Smith gave to the Cardinals. We took a chance on an aging veteran, and it backfired. The first thing he did once arriving on the Cleveland scene was to pull a Gary Baxter on us. From the years 2002-2005, McGinest missed a total of two regular season games for New England. In his first year for Cleveland, he missed two. 2007, he missed three. A product of a body that is quite as quick to heal one can only imagine, and I will concede that point. But, when you concede that, you also have to assume that once that body is back on the field, it isn’t capable of performing the way a younger healthy body would. Thats true too.
In 13 games in 2007, McGinest accumulated 19 solo tackles, the worst output of his career. His sack total of 3.0 was his worst since 1997. One can only assume that his poor numbers from last year were one of the reasons that he will be done after 2008. In that article in SI, McGinest claims that he would love to end his final season with one last playoff run. Willie, my boy, I’ve got some news for you.
You were one of the main reasons we didn’t make the playoffs last year. Not the sole reason, but one of the big ones. For those of you that don’t remember what happened after this play, Ben Roethlisberger, yes, Big Ben Roethlisberger, ran 30 yards for a touchdown. This was just one of the many plays in which he eluded McGinest en route to that big comeback win in week ten.
So, forgive us Willie if the Browns fans do not notice the fact that you are done after this year. You are a Hall of Fame caliber player from your years with New England, and Browns fans will be rooting for you in 2008. Just don’t expect to see any of us at your birthday party.