Chris Samuels has been one of the solid foundations that has kept this team upright, or at least tried to, the past decade. No one can argue his contributions to the team or even deny the impact he has made. Here is the litany: Brad Johnson, Jeff George, Tony Banks, Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerfel, Patrick Ramsey, Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell, and Todd Collins. Let’s not even get into running backs! He has been a solid player, enjoying a successful career. Last season, he endured a spinal injury at Carolina versus the Panthers and now is in limbo between the football field and retirement. Samuels is suffering from stenosis of the spinal column, and thought I am not a doctor-I know that’s bad.
You would think it is a no brainer that he retire, but its not that easy. Jason Reid of the Washington Post writes:
On Jan. 13, right tackle Chris Samuels said he had not made a decision about whether to retire because of neck problems that ended his 2009 season after only five games. Samuels, who spoke with reporters after Joe Bugel’s retirement news conference at Redskins Park, said he would make a decision shortly after having another checkup in February.
The month is nearly over and Samuels, a six-time Pro Bowler and the longest-tenured Redskins player, has not made a public announcement about his decision. The Redskins have “nothing to update,” General Manager Bruce Allen said the other day in a phone interview. Attempts to contacts Samuels and his agent this week were unsuccessful.
What would be the hold up? Maybe he has the desiring itch to play and that stubbornness is keeping him for “hanging them up”. Maybe he would rather get released than retire because of the money he would be owed. Maybe he doesn’t know. In any case, the only and best solution is for him to retire. Samuels will, no doubt, go down as one of the best offensive linemen the Redskins ever had.
The problem with that is, the last few seasons do not count towards his greatness. Thought he earned a playoff berth in prior to the 2008 season, he did not go to Hawaii due to suffering an injury towards the end of the season. A six-time Pro-Bowler and an All-Pro in 2001 sums up a great career, but he will surely not be the same player if he returns.
As do many players do with injuries, once cleared by the doctor, they will return to the field as soon as possible. So what if Chris Samuels is cleared to play, should he return to the Skins and continue his career? Hell no! And I am not unappreciative of what he has done, but his time clearly has passed. In the passing game, Samuels was constantly being beat by speed rushers. Players like DeMarcus Ware constantly “consummated marriages” with Samuels every time they played, getting the best of him game in and game out. The left side of the line, where Samuels plays, was the strength of the running attack, and the constant plays run to that area have taken their toll on he and his legs as well.
Mike Shanahan and his son Kyle will be installing the “zone blocking” scheme shortly, and with the style Samuels has played as well as his mileage, it is now time for this aging clunker to cash in. He is still a relatively young man who still has his life to invest in. Risking you life and livelihood to paralysis is not worth a shot at reclaiming what you will never be again.