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Thursday, November 27, 2014
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The New Orleans Saints have traded running back Darren Sproles. (Associated Press)

The New Orleans Saints have traded running back Darren Sproles. (Associated Press)

Sproles deal offers rare look into family feud

Last Modified: Monday, March 17, 2014 11:09 AM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

Moments after the Saints traded Darren Sproles, they paid tribute to him on their website.

With quality elevator music playing in the background, a video of Sproles’ best plays while in New Orleans flashed away.

For 2 minutes and 5 seconds the personal highlight film played on.

The only words seen or heard were a thank you from the Saints to their former running back.

The warm effort was a cool reminder of just how quickly a player’s career can change.

In the flick of a highlight, Sproles went from fan favorite to a Philadelphia Eagle. Gone for a fifth-round pick in May’s draft.

That’s how the Saints put an end to a weeklong soap opera between the club, the player and his wife.

It always gets fun when the wives get involved.

Thursday they showed us just what a cruel business sports in general, and pro football in particular, really is.

In the end, the trade was probably the best outcome to a messy situation, one the Saints handled poorly from start to finish.

Sproles is not the first player to be traded, or cut, because of salary cap considerations. It is the nature of the NFL. Each year it happens to veterans on every team.

Fact is the 30-year-old running back’s money became more valuable to the club than his legs.

Sproles was coming off his worst year with the Saints, so from a business stand point the move made dollars and sense. So the team said it was going to give Sproles his release.

However, things changed when the front office found out how much interest was out there for Sproles. So the Saints didn’t want to just give him away while he still had value.

Thus, he was put on the trading block.

In “The Godfather” Michael Corleone tells his brother, “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”

But when you have a wife and kids, it gets personal rather quickly. It got personal for Sproles during his week in limbo.

He went on the offensive telling ESPN he wanted his release so he could cut his own deal.

“I don’t want to be traded,” Sproles said. “I don’t know where they would send me because I have no control over it and I want to be able to pick.”

But what is good for the team is not always good for the player. The Saints did what was in the best interest of the franchise and decided to trade Sproles instead of cutting him.

Where things really got interesting was Wednesday when Sproles’ wife, Michel, fired shots at the Saints’ brass on her Instagram account.

She wrote: “I am so disappointed in the Saints organization & the way they are treating my husband. I understand this is a brutal business but when u have a good guy who works hard & does a lot for the community u would think they would show a little more respect. To verbalize to him that they will release him so at least he can choose the team he wants to spend his last few years in the NFL on & take it back without a word & try to trade him is (expletive) up…

“I no I have no control over this & God is gonna work it out but in the mean time I’m gon vent & talk (expletive). Lol! WhoDat Nation get ready for a ride because the seeds yall front office is planting is not gon be a good look for yall … .”

This is not the first time a wife has gotten involved in such ways, but it does show the human factor involved.

In the end, the trade probably works out for both parties. Sproles will make his money and he is headed to a team that made the playoffs a year ago and will likely use him.

Ironically, the Eagles were beaten by the Saints in that playoff game.

As for the team, it got something for what it thought was going to be nothing.

Instead of letting Sproles go, the Saints got a draft pick and the back’s cap space.

It is a win-win for the Saints, at least until they need 9 yards on third down and have nobody to throw a screen pass to.

As for Sproles, he comes out a winner, too.

He keeps his money and just moves on.

For the family, it is never easy to leave your home, but it is a side of the game few talk about.

The public spat between the family and team goes to prove nothing is just about business when people are involved.

That’s just human nature.

Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at jgazzolo@americanpress.com

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