Tuesday, February 23rd is sure to be a day that Eagles fans will remember for a long-time. Despite dealing with a multitude of injuries, Brian Westbrook will more than likely finish his Eagles career as the best running back in franchise history. For the last five years or so when Westbrook emerged as the teams featured back, he and Donovan McNabb have been the faces of the Eagles offense, but the player that gave defensive coordinators nightmares was Westbrook. McNabb might’ve gotten all the headlines and stolen some of the spotlight away because he plays the most important position on the field, but the Eagles best offensive weapon for a long stretch was Westbrook. He was an all-purpose machine and he had a rare ability to hurt teams in the running game and in the passing game. Just ask the Giants, Redskins, and Cowboys how tough it was to game plan for the dynamic running back as they all had to do it twice a year.
His tenure in Philadelphia ended abruptly yesterday when the Eagles decided that it was time for them and Westbrook to part ways. I’m sure the $7.25 million dollar roster bonus soon due had something to do with this. His resume is currently missing a Super Bowl ring and he has just two Pro Bowls to his name as well, but the imprint that he has left on the Eagles franchise is undeniable.
Brian Westbrook joined 97.5 the Fanatic in Philadelphia to talk about his release from the Eagles, what message he wants to send to Eagles fans, and whether or not he plans to play with another team or retire.
On how he feels now about his release:
“I’m feeling good. Of course I’m grateful for the time that I’ve spent in Philadelphia. I really appreciate all the support that I was able to gain from all the fans, my teammates, my friends and my coaches as well throughout the time I was in Philadelphia. It was a great eight years. Thankful to Coach Reid for giving me that opportunity and really thank you to the fans for accepting me into their homes and cheering me on week-in and week-out for eight years.”
On whether or not the reality that he has been released has hit him yet:
“It really hasn’t I don’t think. A lot of things have gone on in these last couple of days that have happened really quickly. It’s starting to hit me now that I won’t be going back with those guys that I was able to play with for such a long time. Be around the coaches that I have been a part for the eight years as well. It’s a difficult thing, but at the same time I’m happy for the past eight years that I’ve had there. I’m also happy for the opportunity to continue to play football. There’s 32 teams out there and unfortunately I was not able to finish my career in Philadelphia and hopefully I will have the opportunity to go and play for another team.”
On whether or not the team ever asked him to retire:
“No. Not at all. No one ever hinted at that. The first time I talked to anybody about being released or anything was yesterday. Early on in the season, Coach Reid said that when he got his extension he just kinda mentioned that we would be together for another however long his contract was, three years or whatever in passing. That was earlier on in the year. Now I got the phone call yesterday and he just said ‘we’re gonna release ya.’ I said okay. But other than that there was no other communication between me and the team about possibly taking a pay cut or anything like that, it was just we’re gonna release you. I guess in their mindset it gives me an opportunity to latch on with another team through free agency and I appreciate that opportunity.”
On whether or not he would’ve been willing to take a pay cut:
“I think that was probably a possibility. At this point I think it’s a moot point. I’m not sure. I didn’t get the opportunity. They did give me an opportunity to be a free agent at the beginning of the free agency period which I definitely appreciated. I didn’t really have the opportunity to even consider coming back at a reduced price and I think that’s fair of them in one way and in another way I wish they woulda given me the opportunity.”
Whether or not he thinks the concussions will be a lingering problem:
“The reason why I was so vocal about the concussion thing is because as an athlete I know there’s a lot of young kids as well as other NFL players that look up to athletes period. The one thing that I do know is that when somebody of my stature speaks out against something than people start to pay attention. It wasn’t totally for my health or my benefit but for younger people as well. I hope and wish that nobody gets concussions, but in this game people will get concussions. My desire and all my effort was towards people being more knowledgeable about it and people going through the right avenues to get tested properly as well as people taking the right time off so that they would not re-injure themselves. I’ve checked with numerous doctors at this point to see where I’m at with my concussions and all of them have really said the same thing. Of course I was not completely healed when I had my second concussion. Time heals concussions. Now that I’ve had an opportunity to be off for the last month or two months of course those concussions are a lot better and totally healed at this point. The fear is that if you continue to play with concussions and you continue to get hit in the head that you will risk brain damage and all those other things that come along with concussions. However, if you take the proper time in between concussions, your risk greatly decreases the chances that you’ll have any of those side effects after you finish playing football.
On whether or not he plans on retiring:
“No. My plan is not to retire. My plan is to continue to play football. Of course I’ve already started to train for next year. My plan is to go out and continue to play. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s going to be teams that are going to pick me up, but I talked to my agent yesterday and he said three or four teams have already called yesterday after the Eagles announced it. My plan is to continue to play, I’m gonna put all my effort into doing that and I will make a return to the NFL. It just will not be with the Philadelphia Eagles of course.”
On whether or not he has any regrets about his time in Philly:
“Throughout my eight year career, we’ve had a lot of success. A lot of winning football seasons, a lot of winning football games. Of course any player that leaves one team wants to win a championship no matter what. Of course your ultimate goal is to win a championship, but that does not define your career and it will not define mine either. Of course I would’ve loved to win the Super Bowl when we played against New England and we had other opportunities going to NFC Championship games and things like that but you know, it didn’t happen. I would not allow those shortcomings to define my career. I’ve enjoyed a lot there. I played with Hall-Of-Fame players during my time with the Eagles, I played with great coaches, I played with even better men. I’ve learned a lot from those men and different people throughout that building and it’s been a great experience. I really don’t have any regrets during my time in Philadelphia. I heard this from one of my old players that played with me…when you leave the game, you leave it with a lot of memories and money. Hopefully you leave with money. I do have a lot of great memories from the time that I was in Philadelphia and the great time that I spent with my teammates and I really appreciated it.”
On whether or not he would be willing to go to another team in the NFC East:
“Of course. I would be open to go to any team that is willing to have me as well as any team that is in search of a championship. Of course my goal is to win a Super Bowl by the end of my career so that is something that I wanna do. Any team that is vying for that championship, that Super Bowl, is the type of team that I would like to go to.”