The Chicago Bears cut Eddie Goldman in January. The nose tackle took some time before finding his new team, agreeing to a deal with the Atlanta Falcons. It wasn’t a huge surprise. Former GM Ryan Pace was with the organization down there, and they were scooping up several ex-Bears. A few months later, the 28-year-old chose to retire instead, putting a cap on one of the strangest careers in recent memory. Tom Thayer wasn’t surprised.
The former Bears guard and current color analyst has never been one for holding back his true thoughts. When he has an opinion on something, he’ll voice it. Boy, was that ever the case on 670 The Score with Mully & Haugh. They raised the question of whether Thayer was surprised by Goldman’s sudden retirement. Not only did he say he wasn’t, but the man went several steps further.
It became immediately evident he had a low opinion of the former Bears nose tackle.
“Nah, he retired three years ago. He was just lucky enough to get paid. Listen, I’ve been around a lot of players that have one or two great plays in them. But to have that desire to be great for 60 plays a game or the entirety of a training camp or showing up when you’re less than 100%. You’re going to (be a) complement to the rest of the team around you. I really thought Ryan Pace…he drafted Eddie Goldman because there was an assumption that he was going to be able to come in here and provide a little spark.
Then he gave him an extension probably a little bit too early in his career, sat out the pandemic year, and then was a question mark. Remember the conversation last year that they couldn’t get him on the phone? He was telling them he was working out in California, but no one ever saw anything. Then when he came back to practice, he was injured immediately.
He was not going to be a guy that was going to take the Bears to the next level. He had no desire really to play, and that was evident upon retirement.”
Wow. There was no holding back in those comments. Thayer had feelings on Goldman, and he gave voice to them completely unvarnished. He thinks the defensive tackle quit on his team after he got his money. Goldman signed his contract extension in 2018 for $25 million guaranteed. After a strong season that year, his play began to dip noticeably. Then the pandemic hit in 2020, and Goldman chose to sit at home.
When the time came for him to return last year, he dragged his feet. Constant attempts to communicate with him failed. He didn’t attend OTAs or minicamps. When he finally arrived for training camp, the edge he’d once had was gone. Health setbacks began popping up repeatedly. Then when the season started, he wasn’t the same player. After finishes of 11th, 1st, and 9th in run defense the last three years he played, the Bears were 23rd in 2021.
Tom Thayer likely isn’t the only one who sees Goldman that way.
Many players throughout NFL history fell off a cliff after getting their money. Whatever edge they’d played with before was gone. They’d secured their millions. In their minds, the motivation to sacrifice their time and bodies wasn’t there anymore. There are plenty of examples that fit this profile. Albert Haynesworth, Chris Johnson, and Nnamdi Asomugha come to mind. Some might even say Goldman’s own teammate Eddie Jackson fits that profile too.
For somebody like Tom Thayer, who didn’t get paid near the money players today do, Goldman’s decline is the same as quitting on the team. It is easier to understand why the Bears never did better than their 2018 season. Ryan Pace didn’t build the right kind of roster. Too many quitters in the bunch. That may seem old school, but football hasn’t changed much since the 1980s.
The great ones give everything they have to the team. The losers don’t.
Goldman was good through his first four NFL seasons. He deserved the money he got. It’s unfortunate that the final three years had to tarnish his legacy.
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