Updated Sep 1, 2010 - 7:16 pm
Burns: It's not what you thought….and that's a good thing
3:45 press conference? Did he get traded? Did he get cut? Did the Arizona Cardinals just pull the trigger on the Matt Leinart era?
You should have seen the starched shirts spring into action on Wednesday here at Sports 620 KTAR. Alert the reporters, have the web team standing by, deploy the talk show hosts, set up a Matt Leinart command center in the boss' office, somebody order some take out…..we're going to be here all night.
Wait…the presser is to announce a contract extension for Darnell Dockett? It's JUST Darnell Dockett? Stand down…everyone relax. Tell Calvisi to go home. Cancel the take out. We're back to DEFCON 5.
Sorry, but the word "just" does no justice to what happened today. This wonderful (but brief) respite to the Leinart saga has been brought to you by the number 9-0. Not a moment too soon. A giant thank you to the Arizona Cardinals and to Darnell Dockett for the reaffirmation; you both know exactly what you're doing.
Darnell Dockett was once a player who played hard and complained loud. He blossomed into a powerful force on the field who wielded a giant wrecking ball with his words off it. But something amazing happened with Dockett in the last seven months: He evolved. He grew up, he showed up. He was accountable and responsible. He didn't take one play off in camp, at least not one I saw. He stopped playing the role of the victim and poured his energy into being a leader and a teacher.
The Cardinals evolved too. I suppose they could have waited until Dockett had one year left on his contract before extending him. That always seemed to be the rule; when you have a year left…we'll talk. The Cardinals recognized that not all players are created equal. Some have worried about the message sent to others on the team by extending a player who had two years left on a deal. Not me. Special players accrue special privileges. Dockett is a game changing player who energizes your fan base, plays an essential part in your future and is entering the prime of his career. Forget the rules and do it.
Now, pardon me for a moment while I let my cynic flag fly (I promise it will be quick). The organization needed an infusion of positive after the last week and a half. Angst is in the air. Leinart vs. Anderson. Leinart vs. Whisenhunt. Which makes today's announcement feel so…convenient. For now, it has eased our minds and taken our eye off the raging controversy.
For now. It won't last long.
I even found myself drifting a bit. Why - if the Cardinals were so skittish about Leinart all along - did they not do more in the offseason to shore up the position? If Leinart is indeed traded or cut are we really going to ask Derek Anderson and two rookies to lead the team back to the playoffs? Where did it all go wrong? What changed? I don't have the answers but I know this: If Whisenhunt believes the team is better off without Matt Leinart then the team is better off without Matt Leinart. Of that I have zero doubt.
That's why Thursday's news about Dockett was like a trip to the ATM. I had to check the balance on the account. Make sure all the equity Whisenhunt and company have earned over the years is still there.
Yep, still there.