Game On…with Rob Kriete! – MAY 5

As well documented in this column, I grew up in Brooklyn. There were many great things about growing up there, from the pizza to the lifelong friendships to the renown that Brooklyn has for many people for many years. One of the things I hated the most about living in the north is this thing called winter. They even have a wind-chill factor for the winter. Awful. So, when given the freedom that comes with graduating high school, I moved to the amazing city of Tampa that is accompanied by fantastic weather.

Professional sports players rarely have the opportunity to choose where they want to live. They are bound to the teams that drafted or signed them. But when star players build up enough, I’m not sure what we would call it, service time (?), occasionally they ask to move to what they perceive as a better location.

Aaron Rodgers is currently one of these players. He doesn’t want to leave the Packers due to climate, like myself. (Check out Jimmy Buffett’s classic, “The Weather is Here, I Wish You Were Beautiful”) Rodgers’ gripe seems to lie in the quality of the Packers’ drafts, namely not drafting new options for him to throw to. This complaint comes while already winning a Super Bowl with the Packers and accruing a Hall-of-Fame career. So, it begs the question for sports fans, when, if ever, is it acceptable to request a trade from a current team? And, how do you feel if a player on your favorite team wants off your team or if your team adds one of these disgruntled players from another team?

I would argue that each situation is different so I cannot guarantee which way I would lean in all circumstances. In the case of Rodgers, I think the evidence he brings in terms of his effectiveness while in Green Bay cannot be used as a reason. If I were his General Manager, I would ask what free-agent option would soothe his concerns. Perhaps this would make his stay in “The Frozen Tundra” more agreeable.

Then there are situations like James Harden asking out of Houston and landing in Brooklyn with the Nets. “The Beard” was disinterested in playing for the Rockets any longer, and his play and pouting showed as much. Regardless of the commitment by team and city made to Harden in terms of money and building around his abilities, James wanted out. This egregious attitude makes them much less fan-friendly, in my humble opinion. When a contract is signed, it cements the agreement, whether one is multi-millionaire or a classroom teacher.

As players want more control of their situation and geography, I would ask them to consider their choices whenever they sign their name. In the case of Tristan Wirfs, pictured at the beginning of my column, he had no choice.  If he wanted to get paid, his options were coming to Tampa or not signing a contract.

As a teenager in Brooklyn rooting for the real New York team, the traditionally disappointing Knicks, I knew I could not control my geography until after I graduated. Modern athletes should understand that they manage their situations when signing a contract, not in the middle of one!

What do you think of professional athletes that want on or off your favorite team?

Be safe, everyone!