Matt Forte: Loyalty is a Dying Breed in the NFL
Loyalty and Football.. two things you don’t hear very often. You’ll hear it now and then with the greats.. the John Elways or the Dan Marinos.. it’s very rare.. most people can’t name more than few players who have played for only one team. It’s not only rare, it’s unnatural. It’s the exception to the rule. It’s a business, the NFL.. and most people are aware that you’re only as good as your last season. Have a bad season or get injured and you may be traded or let go… so as a precaution you’ll see many players go for long term contracts to insure their future..albeit through holdouts, rough negotiations, tough agents, etc. Sometimes, you’ll get a guy who is loyal, works hard, doesn’t complain.. and doesn’t get the reward that he and the majority of his fans think he deserves.. and that my friends, is Matt Forte.
How often do you see the FANS of any team say that a player deserves a lot of money. It’s unheard of unless its an all-star on your team… wait.. Matt Forte is an all-star on the Bears.. He’s been here since 2008 and has broken all sorts of records. He beat GALE SAYER’S rushing record for the Bears.. pretty impressive, right? He has lost 8 fumbles in 5 years. Outside of 2009 (played with a bad hamstring all year, played every game) and 2011 ( was injured in a game late in the season ) he rushed for over 1000 yards. He’s single-handedly given the Bears a chance to have a passing game with his maniacal desire to play at all costs, catch the ball out of the backfield, run through one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL at times (although I’d like to say Mike Tice has greatly improved it). His friends, like Greg Olsen, a former Bear, have come to his aid.. stating he should at least get taken care of .. Even Michael Bush, the newly signed running back of the Bears has stated that he should be taken care of.
Why, do you ask, is Forte not getting a long term contract? Perhaps it’s his demeanor.. perhaps it’s the fact that he’s rarely spoken out about his contract.. perhaps it’s because he’e never held out for a new contract? It’s loyalty, folks. The man is a loyal person. He has worked hard for a team that he was drafted by. He has worked through a rookie contract with very little injury and has played significantly better than most running backs in the league, especially running backs on the Chicago Bears. He didn’t pull a Chris Johnson, a Cedric Benson, a Lance Briggs,.. no, he didn’t hold out for more money. He put the faith of his future in the team that drafted him and has had him as the starter since he’s been drafted.
And what have the Chicago Bears done to compensate Matt Forte? $7million. Wow, you say, that’s a ridiculous amount of money. It is.. it definitely is. I’m not arguing with the money, I don’t think anyone really is. It’s the fact that they’ve paid him $3.87m in the last 4 years on a 4yr rookie contract, have squeezed out a lot of production and instead of giving him a 3+ year contract and giving him some stability for the rest of his life, they’ve given him the “franchise tag” which essentially gives you the average of the top 5 salaries of that position for that year. $7 million is quite a bit of money but it guarantees Matt Forte 2 things.. 1) he’s doubling what he’s made in the past 4 years and 2) he has no security with the Chicago Bears.
I can’t in all honesty blame the Chicago Bears for any of this. I don’t blame them for giving him the franchise tag nor do I blame them for not giving him a long term contract. It really makes no sense from a business standpoint. A 5th year running back is the equivalent of a 55 year old, 25 years in the business, employee. He’s getting old, you don’t really know how much longer he has left, and you don’t want to give him a lot more money for just a few more years when you can get someone younger to fill his position for a lot cheaper. It’s a horrible way of looking at it, and I hate myself for even giving that analogy, but it’s true.
The problem really lies with the fact that Matt Forte is a good guy. He’s what you want out of a running back. A hard-working, come to practice all the time, play through injuries, do whatever it takes to win, kind of guy. You love these guys. You want these guys on your team. You relish the opportunity to play with a guy like this. You want to have these kinds of guys stay on your team for a long time, if not for the remainder of his career. He’s a game-changer. He’ll make sure your team has a good, clean vibe. He doesn’t speak loudly with words, but with actions. You give him a contract that might not be ridiculous in money, but rather in tenure. Let him retire a Chicago Bear. Give him the confidence that he won’t be playing anywhere else.
Why be loyal to a team when they aren’t loyal to you? And that is why you rarely see loyalty in the NFL. You don’t see players sticking around for less money simply because they want to play there. You don’t see players working on negotiations for long term contracts when there’s another team willing to pay more for short term contracts. It’s about the bottom $ for most NFL teams and unfortunately I have a feeling that Matt Forte may not retire a Chicago Bear.