Farewell, Evan Mathis! Don’t Let the Door Hit You…


Evan Mathis is no longer a Philadelphia Eagle and thus has lost love from many fans. 

On Thursday afternoon, Evan Mathis was released by the Eagles. Considering his high level of play, strong connection with the fans, and apparent lack of depth on the offensive line, you might think that the fan reaction to this move would be universally negative.

Apparently not.

I understand that you could probably find a couple of people who hate just about any move a team makes. If the Phillies traded Jonathan Papelbon for Mike Trout, there would still be a few people complaining: “WTF? Awful deal! The Phillies gave up WAY too much! #FireRuben”

But this wasn’t a cherry picking of a very small minority. There is a sizable group of fans who think this was a good move.  From what I can tell, they fit into one of the following categories:

People who don’t like when athletes want more money

Some fans become annoyed any time an athlete makes a public demand for more money. I can understand to a point. After all, these players are being paid millions, which is much more than most of us will ever see. Shouldn’t they just be happy with what they get?

On the other hand, it wouldn’t exactly hurt the owners’ bottom line to pay the players a little more. Based on the salaries of other guards around the NFL, Mathis is somewhat underpaid. And considering his advanced age, he realizes he’s closer to the end of his career than the beginning.

Keep in mind that NFL contracts are incredibly one-sided. If a player feels he’s outperformed his deal and wants his contract re-done, there’s not a lot he can do about it. If a team doesn’t want to pay a player anymore, they can usually release him before the deal is over and not have to pay him any more money.

Fans who worry that Mathis will undermine the team’s success

Any time there’s a dispute between the team and a player, some fans automatically think the player is in the wrong. I’m guessing that they’re worried that the unhappy player will upset team chemistry and hurt the team’s chances of success.

Terrell Owens. Image Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know if that applies here. Mathis wasn’t pulling a Terrell Owens and attempting to disrupt the locker room. Mathis was reportedly unhappy about his contract last year, but he still showed up for all of the activities, and I can’t recall hearing anyone say that he wasn’t a perfect soldier.

This year, Mathis took the only action available in this situation: Not show up to the team’s “voluntary” camps. (In actuality, these camps are about as voluntary as paying taxes.) Reportedly, he was planning on showing up to the next activity, so it’s not like he was planning on using “scorched Earth” techniques to get what he wanted.

Chip Kelly “cultists”

Some Eagles fans have become convinced that Chip Kelly is an absolute genius and is destined to lead the team to a Super Bowl victory. Since Chip can do no wrong, every move he makes is the right one.

Sure, Mathis is a Pro Bowler, and sure, the Eagles offensive line depth is questionable, but if Chip says that the Eagles will be fine without him, then by golly, they will be! After all, he knows just how good the guys who will replace him are. If he thinks they’ll be able to replace Mathis, then they probably can.

Regardless of the reason, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that some Eagles fans have turned on Mathis and are downplaying his ability. After all, we’ve seen it happen several times before this year.

A year ago, 76ers fans were pretty high on Michael Carter-Williams. The reigning NBA rookie of the year was considered an exciting point guard and a key building block for the team. But as soon as he was traded, opinion changed dramatically.

Michael Carter-Williams. Image Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

All of a sudden, MCW was wildly overrated. His poor shooting was a huge liability, and he didn’t fit in with general manager Sam Hinkie’s vision for how he was going to build a team. (Not that we really know what that is.)

Similarly, Eagles fans used to declare LeSean McCoy to be the best running back in the NFL. Many considered him the closest thing the league has seen to the next Barry Sanders. As soon as he was traded, suddenly, fans decided that McCoy was in decline, that he danced too much, and other backs would fit Kelly’s offense better.

This phenomenon is not unique to Philadelphia. Just look at how Cowboys fans feel about DeMarco Murray these days. In their eyes he’s gone from an absolute stud to a mere product of their offensive line and an overrated player who “left a lot of meat on the bone.”

I understand that our ultimate loyalty is to the team and not the player. And I understand that many of us are optimists and want to believe that the team will be in good shape regardless of which players leave. But it’s kind of sad the way fans turn on these guys the second they leave. We can still try to be positive about the fate of our teams, but we shouldn’t have to denigrate the accomplishments of past players while doing so.

Next: Cole Hamels not on Dodgers' wish list

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