The last weekend of this football season is upon us as the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens meet in New Orleans for the Super Bowl. Both teams will definitely be playing with pride and passion as they look to win that ultimate prize.
But for two players, this game could lead up to a decision that could alter their careers. Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and 49ers safety Dashon Goldson are set to be free agents this off-season. And with a big game on the big stage, both could be moving on to bigger contracts elsewhere. But before they make that decision, they may want to take a look at players in the past that had big games and left for more money with a new team.
Dexter Jackson was a fourth-round draft pick in the 1999 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The young safety worked his way up and then had a breakout season when the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2002 (71 total tackles, 3 interceptions). And to cap off his stellar 2002 season, Jackson was also named the MVP of the Super Bowl, becoming the first safety to do that since Jake Scott in 1973.
Going into that year, Jackson was about to enter free agency. He had a decision to make upon the end of the season. With the demand for his talents at an all-time high, Jackson decided against staying in Tampa and took a more lucrative offer from Arizona. He went on to have one good season in The Desert before sitting out the next season. He went back to Tampa after his stint in Arizona, but he was not the same. He never reached the heights he did when they won the Super Bowl and he ended up finishing his NFL career in Cincinnati. In this case, he left a place where he was comfortable and playing his best for a more money. And if life was a game of Craps, he rolled Snake Eyes.
Another player who had an excellent game in the Super Bowl was Cowboys defensive back Larry Brown. The Texas Christian University product was drafted in the 12th round of the 1991 NFL Draft. It was thought that Brown would be a longshot to make that team and be a contributor, but he defeated the odds and became a fixture in their secondary during the championship years.
Brown ended up starting in Dallas and was a key member in the Cowboys three championships, with his most memorable performance coming in the 1995 Super Bowl (Super Bowl XXX). Brown picked off Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Neil Oâ€™ Donnell two times that game and was named the Super Bowl MVP. He, like Dexter Jackson, had reached the height of his fame. And he also had a choice to make about staying where he was comfortable or going for the money. Brown chose the money, and he left for the more lucrative deal the Oakland Raiders laid out for him. His career in Oakland was short-lived â€“ he played twelve games in two years and was let go by the team. He ended up going back to Dallas and playing one more season before his career was done.
These two stories illustrate the decision that Ellerbe and Goldson will have to think about. More money can be a good thing. It could set you up for life potentially. But money could also put you in a situation that could hurt your peak earning potential years prematurely like it did Brown and Jackson. Both went places that they did not fit well at all. One of these two players could have a big-time game. And like Brown and Jackson, both guys will be on the top of some NFL teamâ€™s wish lists. It will be interesting to see what decision these two highly sought-after free agents make when the clocks strikes triple zeroes in the Superdome.
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