By Anthony Armstrong
I had to dig through the archives to find this old post about cut day and what it feels like:
Adam Schefter always refers to the Monday after the last regular season game as “Black Monday” since there are so many coaches and families who have to relocate. I don’t agree. Coaches get all of their money. The players? The kids get nothing. A vast majority have just played football for the last time. A child’s dream ends with the stroke of a pen.
I think I wrote this in the hot tub at the Cowboys Valley Ranch facility.
Yesterday, just shy of 500 dreams and wishes were ended. In just a couple short days, another 700 or so will be thrown out on their backsides as well. This is the reality of professional football. The guys that you fought and scratched with, mentored and learned from will be sent out of the door with their dreams of playing in the NFL put on hold.
Cut days suck. Point. Blank. Period. It never gets easier, regardless of how many times you are around for the annual roster trimming. What makes the day so difficult is because of the relationships you have built with the ones who get the axe. You have grinded, sweated, and bled with this guy. You learn about their families and children, hear about their own struggles, and they become a brother of sorts. Some guys handle it better than others in their outward expressions, but I know that they are torn up inside, because I’ve been on that side of the knife.
One thing that makes cut down days such an interesting dynamic is that the same ones you hate to see leave, are the same one who were trying to take YOUR spot! Regardless of how you slice it, they would have much rather seen you packing a box and slowly trudging through the double doors one last time. That can make for one sticky situation after the rosters are pared. The one guy you thought you were cool with may not want to be so cordial with you after you have taken ‘their’ job.
Cut down days carry an ominous, toxic fog of anxiety and pessimistic emotions. It’s damn near impossible to be in good spirits, especially if it’s your first rodeo. Since I’ve been shown the door on multiple occasions (both with and without water works), I can accept the reality of the event for what it is. It’s the life we chose. I truly feel the one way to reach that level of calm is by believing in what you have already done. Meaning, “I know I’ve done good things this camp, and I have no regrets about my performance.” If you can have that mindset, you will be just fine. You will bounce back and catch on somewhere else.
There are so many variables in making an NFL roster, much more than simple talent. You have to be able to contribute on special teams and essentially do more than the next man. One of the most common situations is the “Numbers Game”. The Numbers Game is the most frustrating way to be released, but it can be the least painful. What usually occurs is that the team will need an extra body at another position and felt that, (even though you are good enough to play), your position is expendable for the team’s sake. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be the one that the grim reaper lays his bony fingers upon.
I just want all those who get released to not give up the fight, and to use it as further motivation to make someone else’s team. With one more cut to go, I hope my name isn’t on the reaper’s list.
I did end up getting released. I got the whole “You practiced better than you played” line. I wanted to respond with the facts that I practiced with Tony Romo and Kyle Orton, two veteran quarterbacks who had command of the offense. In practice, the plays called for me gave me an opportunity to showcase my full abilities. But in the games, I ran with the YouTube legend, Alex Tanney and undrafted Nick Stephens. No shade to them, but it’s an obvious drop off in talent.
These are the kind of games they play. If there is more money invested in a player, he will get first dibs even if he’s not as talented.
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