"The Eagles have released LB Jeremiah Trotter, the team announced Tuesday morning."
It was one simple line and it dropped my jaw. In reality, this really isn't "shocking" news. Seeing the way Trotter has declined the past 2 years and hearing the outspoken(and some what out of character) criticism of him by both Andy Reid & Johnson, certainly we could have seen this coming. Frankly, anyone who has read G Cobb's training camp reports would probably have been surprised it took this long... All that said, I certainly was surprised. One of the true favorites of Eagles Nation is gone.
Rather than take this opportunity to talk about the declining skills of Trotter and whether this was a smart move or not(I don't like it but I understand it) I'd rather talk a bit about what #54 meant to this team and it's fans. You could certainly say that Jeremiah Trotter is our very own prodigal son. He was drafted in 1998(3rd round) by the Eagles and really broke out in his second year in the league. The big, athletic, mean man in the middle fit the Eagles defense like a glove. He was an intimidating presence, the kind of guy that fans love to get behind. The crowd was loud, raucous, and intimidating and so was Trotter. We loved him for it. He went on to make the pro bowl and establish himself as one of the best middle linebackers in the NFL... and he wanted to be paid like it. The Eagles thought differently and after a contentious and public negotiation the two sides parted ways.
So the player we drafted, watched grow into a dominant pro bowl player left and signed a massive contract with our divisional rival Washington Redskins. What's worse, he was replaced by Mark Simoneau... It was hard to find an Eagles fan that wasn't disappointed in how the situation played out. Then it all went sour for the Axeman. Injuries, poor play, and what many saw as misuse in the Redskins' system saw his career in Washington end after just two years. However, after going down injured late in 2002(the year prior to his release in Washington) Trotter got a sympathetic call that would set the table for the prodigal son's return.
Andy Reid called Trotter at home to express his sympathy for his injury and to offer some encouragement. After a somewhat nasty split, it was a classy move by Reid and one that impressed Trotter. When he was released from the Skins he signed for Philly one a year year, near veteran minimum deal. That year was 2004. The Eagles early wins that fate year covered up a few serious flaws in the team. They were winning games, but they were being run all over. Trotter who was relegated to backup behind Mark Simoneau(figure that out...) was largely unable to help. But after being physically dominated at the line of scrimmage and handed their first loss of the year at Pittsburgh, the Eagles relented an put #54 back in the starting lineup. The run defense immediately improved and the presence of Trotter in the middle inspired the defense. His play in the second half of that year helped lead the Eagles to their first superbowl appearance in 24 years. The prodigal son had officially returned.
Trot made 2 more pro bowls in his second stint with the Eagles and will always remain a favorite of myself and many Eagles fan. I bid a fond farewell to a great servant of the club.