Am I going to get the reputation of being the "angel of death?"
I've got to broaden my scope of opinion articles.
I said that the Hall of Fame would not vote in T.O. They didn't. I said that DB Cary Williams would not be returning to Baltimore, and he didn't. I said that Ezekiel Elliot would not be drafted by the Ravens, and he was not, for one reason or another.
It's just that, when I see a non-match possibility, popular or no, it is hard to resist putting my thought on cyber paper.
Eugene Monroe is now one of those possibilities.
Not just now, some might argue, but this has been the case all along because of his injury-dominated tenure and his not-spectacular performance. Don't be fooled by the Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade; he only had a few qualifying weeks and benefited from 'dummy' scores for the other weeks. His last season was definitely mediocre.
Monroe's current news is that he has started a campaign to make the NFL allow medical marijuana use. As soon as I heard about his new website and twitter feed, I felt that familiar twinge deep down: Game Over.
This Ravens organization is serious about walking the straight and narrow. It seems that any player who goes off on a tangent, and begins to tout extracurricular, potentially dividing issues, gets the door. Is this the only factor? No way. Play and pay are always are the forefront of the reasoning. Yet, I cannot shake the feeling that the powers that be in the decision-making chairs of 1 Winning Drive see things like this and begin exit velocity for said player.
Remember when Ravens special teamer extraordinaire, Brendon Ayanbadejo, declared that he would use the Super Bowl to tout gay marriage? Do you recall how long he played after that?
Not one game.
Again, this is not to say that his soapbox was the only issue, at all--he was 36 and not a starter. He also made an initial assertion that he was released due to his stance on that issue, shortly thereafter retracting this thought. It does make one wonder--being an insider with respect to the football club, for a long time, why would he initially say that? Could it be because he knew about the non-football, divisive soapbox standard?
To illustrate that this is not one-sided, there is the case of Matt Birk. The consistently all-pro center made a public statement in that same 2012 season about his support of traditional marriage values.
He retired after the season.
Again, nowhere near the only issue, nowhere near the main issue. But a factor, nonetheless. A part of the equation that fits this hypothesis.
Conversely, let's look at the case of TE Dennis Pitta. His last two seasons have been non-existent because of injury. The Ravens have plenty of reasons to release him, benefit from the cap space, and get younger at the position. The key is that Pitta is a consummate teammate, a soapbox-less locker room blessing. The result? The Ravens are giving him every chance to make it.
If he, all of a sudden, chose to soapbox an issue--a divisive, non-football one, like Gun Control or something--then it would very well be "Peace, Pitta!"
Obviously this does not apply to universal issues like Breast Cancer or Children's Hodgkins Disease.
So, back to Monroe, he has chosen a non-football, divisive issue and built around it. Doubters would say for him to get his own career untracked first, so that the soapbox is more than one inch off of the ground, and then push an issue. It seems like the perfect word:
Apparently Monroe doesn't think that way.
He is full throttle promoting and all-in.
Maybe he will get on with another team that is not so discerning as the Ravens. He could go to Miami and team up with Tunsil. 'Nuff said.
Perhaps he will be the anomaly. Perhaps he will be a Raven for a long time to come and will have an amazing career.
Or perhaps his Ravens future just went up in smoke.