As poet John Greenleaf Whittier Once wrote, “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been.”
So very, very true. And so it was in that spirit that NFL.com asked several of their analysts who played in the league what their biggest career regrets are. So for instance, Ladanlian Tomlinson’s is not making to a Super Bowl. Nate Burleson’s is breaking his arm trying to save a pizza in the car, and so on.
But the saddest might have been by far belongs to DeAngelo Hall:
When I signed to play half the season with Washington in 2008, there was a line in my contract that said the team could not franchise tag me that next season. I remember negotiations for a new deal with Washington weren't going well, and there were other teams in the picture, including New England. At that time, players didn't take short-term deals, but Randy Moss had just signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the Patriots. I couldn't believe it. In my own contract discussions with the Pats, I recall Bill Belichick telling me they couldn't give me the contract Moss signed. Being a young and greedy knucklehead, I chose to stay in Washington on a long-term deal (six years, $54 million), which ultimately had me making the same per-year salary as Moss. Over a few million, I could've changed my legacy by being part of that dynasty. That was on the table for me, and I wish I would've made the decision to take less money and play for Belichick.
Just so we’re clear on how much money Hall is talking about:
As that other great poet, Gordon Gekko also said, “Greed, for lack of a better, word, is good.” I’m all about a guy making himself into one of the top 10 highest paid defensive backs of all time. With all those Snyderbucks a man can have financial security, provide for his loved ones, and when he’s buying a new Weber grill can go for the model with the little side burner unit, PLUS the extended warranty. But you can’t take it with you. In the afterlife, when your meeting Jesus and Copernicus and Mr. Rogers and Bob Ross, they are not going to ask how many dollars you made in this life. But they are going to want to look at your Super Bowl ring because they don’t have one.
So I respect Hall for coming to this conclusion, even if it’s too late. I wish like hell he knew this when the Pats defense couldn’t make stops in big postseasons losses from 2009-13. But still, he’s learned a lesson about why guys take less to come to New England. Why Moss took a 67% financial haircut to rejuvenate his career. Why Chris Long told his agent, “I don’t care if I play for $5, just get me to New England. And why an MVP quarterback would be accepting Door Dash wages right now. Because money is only temporary but a champion is a champion is forever.