On the surface, the Arizona Cardinal career of Edgerrin James appears to be a waste of time, money and manpower. The Cardinals had the worst rushing attack in the NFL when he got here and when he left.
Bookends of futility to be sure.
On the field he brought nothing to the table. You can't debate it. Sure he rushed for over a thousand yards in two of his three seasons, but with so many touches how could he not?
Combine the dearth of production with the attitude he flashed when benched and Cardinal fans said good bye and good riddance to Edge a long, long time ago.
But James' three years in Arizona meant something. Had value. Was worth it. And here's why:
When he signed with the team the Cardinals were on the verge of moving into their sparkling new showpiece stadium. The voters in this community gave the Cardinals a gift and expected the team to return the favor.
Don't you remember the angst? The concern that once the Cardinals had their new stadium they would pocket the cash, re-invest none of it into the roster and leave the sucker fans high and dry?
The Cards erased those concerns the minute they signed Edge. They paid market value for a running back in his prime.
And while the rest of the NFL ripped James for taking the cash and leaving one of the NFL's best situations for one of it's worst, we in the valley had the proof we needed. The Cardinals are going to spend.
We talk about "changing the culture." The stamp that Ken Whisenhunt has put on this organization is indelible and undeniable.
Well, you may not want to hear it, but that culture change started before Whiz got here. It started when a giant silver stadium rose from a cotton field in Glendale. And the Cardinals kept the faith and their promise by giving James a huge chunk of cash.
I'd say it worked out pretty well, wouldn't you?