5 talented NFL stars who were cut unfairly by their teams
The NFL is a ruthless place as stars who have helped their team succeed are cut at the hint of the slightest decline or controversy. It is understandable too because it is ultimately a competitive marketplace. But some NFL stars were cut by teams for flimsy reasons. We have enlisted some of these NFL stars who could consider themselves unfairly treated.
NFL stars cut for unfair reasons
#5 - Lawrence Okoye, DT, Arizona Cardinals, 2015
While Lawrence Okoye may not meet the definition of a bonafide NFL star, he is included in the list for two reasons. First, he entered the NFL having never played football in school or college. Second, he is simultaneously a British track and field athlete in the discus throw category, having won a European under-23 gold medal as well. From an athletic point of view, he is definitely a star having made it to the top level in two different sports.
The other reason he must make this list is because he was cut from the Arizona Cardinals' practice squad. According to reports, what had transpired was that he allegedly parked his car in Bruce Arians' parking spot at the team facility. That should have been a reason for a mild reprimand. Instead, he was cut from the team. Arians himself defended his player, but general manager Steve Keim was not to be persuaded.
#4 - DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles, 2013
DeSean Jackson is a bonafide NFL star. Not only has he had a great career; he has given fans those magic moments that they yearn for every single NFL season. Few NFL fans will ever forget his punt return for a touchdown against the New York Giants, known fondly as the 'Miracle at the New Meadowlands'. That year, in 2010, Jackson became the first NFL star to be selected to the Pro Bowl in two different positions: wide receiver and return specialist.
But 2010 was not his only Pro Bowl selection. In fact, as a wide receiver, he had his best season in 2013. Yet, despite getting the nod for the Pro Bowl that season, he was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles because of allegations in his personal life. A New Jersey website portal carried a piece that alleged that Jackson was associated with gang members in Los Angeles.
The Eagles management decided to act on it and cut him, even though he himself was not part of any gang. He was only connected to people in gangs having grown up in the neighborhood. To have your career abruptly cut because of where you grew up must be the unfairest way of all.
Counting down NFL stars who were unfairly cut
#3 - Josh Sitton, G, Green Bay Packers, 2016
Josh Sitton can rightfully consider himself an NFL star, having made it to multiple Pro Bowls and for having won the Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers. But to say that he was unfairly cut would be an understatement.
Sitton made it to the Pro Bowl four times in his career. He did so once in 2012, and then after a hiatus in 2013, he made three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2014 to 2016. It was during this period, when he was most productive, that the Green Bay Packers decided to move on from him.
It was a surprising move but even more surprising was that, out of all the teams he could have signed with, he turned up with the Chicago Bears in 2016 and went on to have the final of his Pro Bowl years with them.
#2 - Steve Smith Sr., WR, Carolina Panthers, 2013
The Carolina Panthers had to navigate their salary cap situation in 2013. Instead of deft maneuvres, they chose brute decisions.
Steve Smith made the Pro Bowl five times as a Panthers player. The NFL star still holds the record for the most receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns for the franchise. He was the glue that held the offense together. Yet, for some reason, instead of restructuring his contract or offloading other players, the Carolina Panthers decided to get rid of him.
It was especially bizarre because he was the only one in their receiving corps entering that season who had caught passes with the Panthers before. His leadership would have been invaluable, as would have been his field output because he was none too shabby after he moved to the Baltimore Ravens. The entire situation was unfair to this NFL star who had given his life and soul to the club.
#1 - Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts, 2011
Do we all know why Peyton Manning was let go by the Indianapolis Colts after the 2011 season? Yes, we do. Do we still think it is unfair? Definitely, yes.
Peyton Manning is not just an NFL star. For many quarterbacks, he is their lodestar, defining what modern quarterbacking looks like. He led the Colts to their first Super Bowl in their current guise. The home stadium is affectionately called "The House that Manning built," having established a fanbase for the franchise in a city otherwise known for its love of basketball.
Yet, when he was injured in 2011 and needed neck and spine surgery, instead of standing by him, the Colts decided that they needed to be ruthless. It was understandable, given that the NFL star may have waned and never recovered his strength after surgery. But it was bet that they should have taken on their franchise quarterback, who was responsible for carrying the weight of the team on his shoulders.
Instead, they went with another future NFL star, Andrew Luck, in that year's draft, moving on from Manning at the first sign of trouble. It was a stunning lack of loyalty and while there are no hard feelings between the player and the club, so to say, it still sits atop our list of NFL stars who were unfairly cut.