At least publically, Daryl Washington’s Arizona Cardinals teammates have expressed more support than anger over his year-long suspension.
It’s about what you’d expect, really.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t those in Cardinal Red who feel betrayed by their teammate, whose absence will certainly negatively impact the team’s championship aspirations.
A guest of Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sorts 98.7 FM Friday, former NFL offensive lineman and current ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth said that’s exactly how he’d feel.
“You love weed more than you love football; you love weed more than you love your teammates,” he said with regards to Washington continually failing drug tests. “That to me is the ultimate in selfishness, the ultimate in lack of responsibility.”
Schlereth said he would be upset with the fact that the only reason Washington was eligible for a suspension of this length in the first place is because he already missed four games due to a similar violation last season. That put him in line for random drug testing by the league, which is something the 27-year-old Washington knew yet still decided to risk his career anyway.
So now the Cardinals will have to press on without the former Pro Bowler who amassed 316 total tackles, 17 sacks and five interceptions over the last three seasons, and no matter how optimistic anyone on the team will profess to be, they are certainly worse without Washington than they are with him.
“I’d be disgusted with him,” Schlereth said when asked how he’d feel if he was on the Cardinals right now.
The way the analyst sees it, the Cardinals were heading into this season knowing they had work to do to catch the San Francisco 49ers and Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks in the difficult NFC West, but having a great defense last year along with the fact that Arizona went into Seattle and won showed they aren’t far off.
“You start to think if we could just get a little bit more balance on offense, we could win this division,” he said. “We’re one of the only teams that ever goes into Seattle and beats Seattle in Seattle for crying out loud. We’ve got that kind of juice as a football team, you’ve got to have a ton of confidence going into the season.
“And those are the decisions your standout linebacker — because the kid is absolutely a phenomenal football player — but those are the kind of decisions that you’re making, putting yourself in front of the team.”
As many people know and Schlereth noted, the best football teams tend to be the ones whose players learn to put the greater good above their own desires. Last season, the Cardinals appeared to be one of those teams.
“When you have guys that don’t understand that principle, that are out there playing for themselves, that to me is just incredibly disappointing,” he said. “If I was on that team I’d be livid, I’d be very upset with him.”