Last night Rock Cartwright was honored with the Commitment To Excellence award as voted on by his teammates. For Cartwright it marks the second consecutive year he’s gained the honro. As you might recall the last man to win the award twice was Justin Fargas with his second one coming mere days after the Raiders severed ties with the fearless runner.
Cartwright is in a similar boat as an unrestricted free agent. Unlike Fargas he hasn’t been told by the team that his services are no longer necessary. However he hasn’t been told he’ll be retained either.
Life in the NFL is cruel. No other sports industry so blatantly displays the clear cut line between business and entertainment. Fargas found out about that and more recently the likes of Peyton Manning have even learned the harsh lesson.
Fargas never played in another NFL game. He briefly was in camp with the Broncos but never caught on. Cartwright will likely have suitors somewhere in the league should the Raiders let him walk. Though he plays running back Cartwright has carved his niche on special teams. He’s also invaluable in the locker room as evident by his teammates twice voting him as the Commitment award recipient in his two years as a Raider.
How much Cartwright’s presence matters to Reggie McKenzie is yet to be seen.
Even with Darren McFadden’s injury absence Cartwright saw almost no action as a runner. Instead the Raiders leaned almost exclusively on Michael Bush with occasional appearances by rookie Taiwan Jones. That fact alone could be reason enough for McKenzie to part ways with Cartwright. His salary isn’t so great that the Raiders will save any serious cash without Rock but these days Oakland needs every dime they can get.
Much like Fargas, Cartwright takes the high road when discussing his future with the franchise. He understands the nature of this business yet doesn’t seem to be phased by it at all.
Going forward the Raiders will need locker room leaders like Cartwright in order to build a solid foundation. Not everything that makes for a great football team can be equated to fantasy football production or ESPN analysis. More often than it it’s the things that are shared privately by the players and coaches that creates champions. The Raiders can surely win without Cartwright but doing so in class could prove difficult.