It’s pretty extraordinary —- when you think about it —-how Haason Reddick didn’t allow all of the obstacles he had to hurdle in 2020 to break his spirit. Just look at what he had to overcome in his 4th year as a Cardinal:
Haason Reddick’s character (despite playing well @ SAM last 3 weeks/2 wins 2019): (1) SK not giving him 5th year tender; (2) the BUST label; (3) fans/pundits begging SK to trade /cut him; (4) SK signing D. Kennard to be 3 yr. $20M starter @ SAM; (4) 1st start 2020 was Week 3.
— Walter B J Mitchell (@WBJMItch) February 26, 2021
Some Cardinals fans are now suspecting that Reddick’s main motivation was playing in a contract year, which is why, in their opinion, it’s probably a good idea for the Cardinals to let some other team overpay for him in free agency.
Certainly, NFL players in their contract years have a lot at stake and thus feel a heightened sense of urgency to perform at the highest possible levels.
However, to think of all that Haason Reddick had to do rewrite the script on his career and not allow the unfortunate decisions and shortcomings of the past affect his will and state of mind feels like, at least to this Cardinals’ fan, more of a manifestation of character and perseverance than greed.
Go down the list of Cardinals’ 33 players who were playing in contract years last season. How many of them, with so much at stake, played at a very high level? Especially take a look at the Cardinals’ veterans in their contract years —- and how some of them struggled.
It’s not that easy —- when the pressure is on.
When Hank Aaron delivered his Hall of Fame inauguration speech at Cooperstown in 1982, what was so remarkable about it was how he rarely talked about his records or his stats or historic accomplishments. What he focused his speech on was one key theme —- the theme of opportunity —- and how fortunate he felt just to be given the opportunity to play in the major leagues.
One of the great highlights of the Cardinals’ 2020 season was seeing a host of heretofore unsung Cardinals answer the bell when their opportunities presented themselves. When Chandler Jones was lost to injury in Week 5, Haason Reddick and Dennis Gardeck did a tremendous job of picking up the slack. As did Markus Golden when he was given the opportunity to come back to his NFL roots.
As did 2nd team inside linebackers Isaiah Simmons and Tanner Vallejo in helping the Cardinals beat the Seahawks in overtime in what was the team’s most thrilling win of the season, perhaps on a par with the Cardinals beating the Bills a few weeks later on the Hail Murray.
Safeties Chris Banjo and Charles Washington deserve a ton of credit for stepping up big-time when they were called upon, both on defense and special teams. Same with Kelvin Beachum who was a stalwart at right tackle. And ditto for defensive tackle Angelo Blackson who flashed some big plays at key times.
Players who answer the bell when opportunity arises are the ones teams tend to want to hold on to. It takes far more than financial incentives to motivate players —- it takes character, a sense of unrelenting perseverance and an indigenous love of the game and for the exhilaration of competition—- that, and the player’s whole hearted belief in one’s own talent and determination, especially when the chips are down.
Whether Haason Reddick remains an Arizona Cardinal in 2021 or not —- he deserves a ton of credit for rising up from the ashes of BUST into the bright rainbows of BOOM.