Williams able to test free agency
TUE, FEB 22
4:32 PM CST
RB DeAngelo Williams
Mary Ann Chastain/Getty
Proving again that running back is without a doubt the most disposable position in sports, the Panthers decided against placing the franchise tag on DeAngelo Williams, who will now have an opportunity to test free agency -- whenever that will be.
Instead, Carolina put its franchise designation on center Ryan Kalil, as he plays a position much tougher to find, be it in the draft or free agency. Kalil has been a Pro Bowl selection each of the last two seasons, and now he is guaranteed a one-year contract in the vicinity of $10.5 million for 2011.
Not only is Williams' future on Tobacco Road in jeopardy, but so is that of defensive end Charles Johnson, who led the team in sacks with 11.5.
Getting back to Williams, the 5-8, 210-pounder was originally a first-round choice in the 2006 NFL Draft out of Memphis. A bit of a late bloomer, Williams finally realized his potential in 2008 when he rushed 273 times for 1,515 yards and a league-leading 18 touchdowns, which may have had something to do with the Panthers drafting fellow tailback Jonathan Stewart 13th overall the previous April. Williams was slowed by a foot injury that limited him to six games this past season, so the 87 carries for 361 yards he recorded were both career lows.
The two ball carriers both topped the 1,000-yard plateau in 2009, with Stewart leading the club with 1,133 and Williams adding 1,117 of his own, although it's worth noting that Williams was always listed as the starter and even missed three games that season due to another injury -- he made his lone Pro Bowl that year.
Early indications suggest the Panthers would like Williams to return, as they featured the worst offense in the league in 2010 and have no idea if Jimmy Clausen, who is fresh off a terrible rookie campaign, is indeed their quarterback of the future. Carolina went 2-14 for many reasons and needs to make several quality additions on both sides of the ball in order to be competitive next season, so losing half of their enviable tailback tandem would be a tough pill to swallow.
Still, the simple fact that Kalil got the team's franchise tag instead of Williams suggests that the front office could justify no longer having Williams, while saying goodbye to Kalil would have left a much bigger -- and harder to fill -- hole.
For all the news, notes and quotes on the Panthers, visit PantherInsider.com
Duerson yet another sad NFL story
MON, FEB 21
5:23 PM CST
S Dave Duerson
Michael J. Minardi/Getty
It is never a heroic act to commit suicide, especially when the victim is survived by four children, but at least former Bears safety Dave Duerson was making some sort of effort to improve the life of others when he took his own this past week.
Duerson, originally a third-round pick of Chicago in the 1983 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame and the owner of two Super Bowl rings, one with the Bears and one with the Giants, died in his Miami home of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He did not shoot himself in the head, which is the usual choice for suicide, because he wanted to have his brain studied by the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University's School of Medicine.
According to Chris Nowinski, co-director of the center, the Duerson family had been in touch with him directly and it was Duerson's desire to be examined for symptoms related to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is a degenerative brain disease found in people subjected time and time again to brain trauma -- specifically concussions.
"He had informed them at some point that he wanted his brain to be studied so people could learn more about the effect of brain trauma and so kids could play the game more safely in the future," Nowinski told the Chicago Tribune.
Nowinski grew up in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights and met Duerson in 1996, when the former Bear presented him with a National Football Foundation Scholarship.
"I was a great admirer of Mr. Duerson as a player," said Nowinski. "It was a thrill just to meet him and have my picture taken with him."
Nobody knows the kind of personal hell Duerson must have been going through except Duerson himself, especially since 2010 was such a happy time for many alumni of the '85 Bears -- the 25th anniversary of that legendary team led by coach Mike Ditka was celebrated time and time again.
Shortly after his playing days drew to a close in 1993 with the Cardinals, Duerson was very successful in business. At first he owned three McDonald's franchises, and then later he bought controlling interest in Fair Oaks Farms, a sausage company he grew from $24 million to $64 million in annual revenue.
But his own company, Duerson Foods, did not do as well, plus his marriage of 24 years ended in divorce and he lost a million-dollar home to foreclosure around the same time, all of which may have been a product of the CTE that Duerson eventually believed made his life no longer worth living.
As recently as Feb. 6, the day of Super Bowl XLV, Duerson was active on his Facebook page, congratulating former Bears teammate Richard Dent for being voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
For all the news, notes and quotes on the Bears, visit BearReport.com
|John Crist is an NFL Analyst for Scout.com, a voter for the Heisman Trophy and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America.|