If an alien spaceship came to Earth looking for an athletic specimen to bring back with them to the mothership, and it landed at Lehigh University in August of 2011 or 2012, the odds-on favorite for who the aliens would choose would be Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. At Eagles training camp, DRC was amazing. He was easily one of the 3 fastest players on the team, could out-jump pretty much anybody, and just had smooth, effortless way in which he moved. He was (and still is) one of the true gifted athletes in the NFL.
However, during his time in Philadelphia, "effortless" is a word that could be used to describe DRC in more ways than one. During the 2012 season, when the Eagles had absolutely nothing to play for deep into the season, DRC wasn't exactly Rudy. He and Nnamdi Asomugha often served as little more than mile markers for opposing receivers to race by on the way to the end zone. Mile marker 23 and 24, if you will...
By the time the 2012 season was over, DRC and Asomugha were giving a sickening level of effort. A favorite "give up" moment was late in the season against Dallas. Miles Austin caught a ball and was trying to run by DRC and Nnamdi for the score. DRC had a good angle on him:
But instead of trying to make a tackle, he took a half-hearted swipe at the football:
And Nnamdi put his hands up to protect himself.
Austin scored, but at least nobody was injured on the play, thankfully.
After two years in Philly with little to play for, DRC had a very good year with the front-running Broncos. He signed a 1-year deal this past offseason and is set to become a free agent after the Super Bowl, when he'll have an opportunity to make a lot of money. Super Bowl week began on Monday, and DRC, talking as if he's an old grizzled vet, was one of the players who spoke to the media. It turns out DRC may not be looking for that big payday after all. Apparently, if the Broncos win, DRC may retire.
"I had my fun in this league," said DRC, "and I have to weigh my options, see how I feel after the season.
"I had a goal to play for 5 years, and I reached that."
If he retires, DRC said he'd like to go back to high school to be a guidance counselor. When presented with reasons why he might retire, DRC shot them down:
Do you want to go out on top? No.
Is it just because you want to stay healthy? No.
If you were playing Family Feud, and the question was, "Why would you retire early from football if you still have the ability to play," going out on top and staying healthy would be on the big board, but the #1 honest answer would probably be, "Because I just don't like football all that much."
When asked if there was a different level of effort with the Eagles last year than there was with the Broncos in 2013, DRC answered, "You can say that."
Players who don't love the game are nothing new to the Eagles. They've had so many that if you asked 10 fans to give you their "Mount Rushmore" of Eagles players who appeared to simply not want to play football, you might get 10 different combinations of players.
And so I present... my "Mount Rushmore of Eagles players who just didn't like football," in no particular order:
1) Terrell Owens: Cared more about money than football. Stomped all over like the 2005 season like he was Godzilla. Said he'd rather be a basketball player.
2) Danny Watkins: More interested in being a firefighter.
3) DRC: Didn't play hard when things weren't going well. Thinking of retiring at 27 years of age for no better reason than that he reached his goal of playing for 5 years.
4) Shawn Andrews: I won't even begin to speculate what was going on his head, but it sure wasn't football.