NFL RB retires; ESPN forgets to ask, "Why?"

ESPN has been running non-stop coverage of the Brett Favre situation. “Is he coming back?” “How is his ankle?” “Is this his last year?” “What did he eat for breakfast this morning?” “How many straight hours can we run video of Brett Favre’s car driving down the road?” They have basically exhausted every possible relevant question and many not close to relevant questions.

While Favre’s saga is not entirely indicative of all NFL coverage, football is king in America. The most watched sport in the nation is the NFL, followed by college football. It is hard to turn the TV on, much less on ESPN and other sports stations, and not hear numerous, exhaustive stories and profiles of football players. We tend to know virtually everything that goes on in the lives of these players.

Because of the over-abundance of football coverage, we should expect an in-depth story when a promising young running back for a contending team suddenly and surprisingly decides to leave the game completely. We should expect that, unless you leave for the reasons Glen Coffee left the 49ers.

ESPN’s story doesn’t even lead with Coffee, the second-year player and back-up running back for San Francisco. It mentions Coffee, but lumps him in with another player who left the team for unexcused reasons. Coffee’s reasons for leaving are a bit different than most NFL players.

Often during the preseason we hear of players refusing to show up to training camp because they want more money in their contracts. Others, like Favre, wait because they don’t want to put their bodies through the physical toil of off-season workouts. It happens. Glen Coffee’s story doesn’t happen often.

Here’s how ESPN reported his, as strange as this is for a 23-year-old, retirement:

Singletary, who said Coffee “was having a fine camp,” said Coffee’s abrupt decision caught the team by surprise.

Coffee didn’t show up for Thursday’s afternoon practice and then informed Singletary of his decision Friday morning.

“I appreciate his honesty and I appreciate him not coming out here and going through the motions,” Singletary said. “He said his heart isn’t in it. It’s his decision. He is a man, and the last thing that I’m going to do is disrespect him and try to drag something out.”

So, Coffee’s “heart isn’t in” playing football anymore. Where is his heart ESPN? Care to elaborate? At all? Seems to find that information, we have to go somewhere besides the self-proclaimed “worldwide leader.”

Maybe we can find the answer from a national newspaper like the NY Times. Their sports blog has a story with the headline “Why Glen Coffee Quit Football.” Surely, this will give us all the information we need. They don’t do much actually reporting, but they do quote an Alabama newspaper, where Coffee went to college.

Coffee had been “wrestling” with the decision for a while, he said in a Saturday interview. He said he came to the conclusion that God had another plan for him other than football, and leaving the sport “was just me doing what I should have done a long time ago.”

Coffee seems likely to enter the ministry or a similar career in the religious field, but said he won’t force it.

At least we now know that the decision was based on “God” and possibly going into a “career in the religious field.” Does that not raise numerous, good questions just by itself?

The NFL Fanhouse blog lets Coffee actually speak for himself and honestly answer those questions.

“Actually when I look back I feel I never should have entered the draft in the first place,” said Coffee, who left the University of Alabama after his junior year. “Football was no longer my dream. I found Christ in college. It changed my views on everything. But I still was a football player because it was expected of me, it was something I did all my life. I was basically wasting the [49ers’] time.”

“His will, I felt, wasn’t football. I felt like I forced football because everyone expected me to play football. He told me a long time ago to walk away from the game.”


The 23-year-old’s discussion with Barrows seemingly squashed the possibility that he’d go back on his retirement announcement.

“I’ve already told Christ it’s time to go. I’ve already rung the bell. That’s not going to happen,” Coffee told Barrows.

Oh, no wonder ESPN didn’t care. It’s some of that “Jesus-stuff.” First, we have to deal with Tim Tebow in the NFL and now this. Let’s just ignore it and hope it goes away.

Seriously, I understand that ESPN is not Baptist Press. They aren’t going to quote Glen Coffee’s testimony and give him a chance to ask everyone if they know Christ as well. That’s not the problem. The problem is essentially ignore THE angle of the story, simply because it is religious. Coffee is leaving a significant amount of money on the table to go back to Alabama, graduate and then, more than likely, pursue a career in ministry, which, perhaps surprisingly, does not pay as well as the NFL.

ESPN wants to know every detail of Brett Favre’s week long, drama-king decision. ESPN gave Lebron James his own one-hour special to announce his “decision.” Somehow, ESPN can’t find the time to ask Glen Coffee the simple question “Why?” Something tells me, he would be more than happy to answer that question.

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Aaron Earls

Christian. Husband. Daddy. Writer. Online editor for Facts & Trends Magazine. Fan of quick wits, magical wardrobes, brave hobbits, time traveling police boxes & Blue Devils.