You won’t hear much analysis of the San Francisco 49ers signing of special teams ace and locker room leader Rock Cartwright. Journeyman special teamers don’t get their contract details crawled across the screen on ESPN. Guys like Cartwright aren’t relevant in fantasy football and certainly don’t get endorsement deals to sell insurance on Super Bowl Sunday ads.
But it is guys like Cartwright that are the heartbeat of pro football. Team first players, willing to do whatever is asked by the coaching staff with nothing more than a sense of duty every time they take the field.
The Oakland Raiders didn’t just lose a special teams contributor today when Rock Cartwright took his talents to The City. They lost a team captain, a two-time winner of the Commitment to Excellence Award and a leader in the locker room who just so happened to play on special teams and occasionally played a little running back.
Some losses can’t be measured by statistics. Some gains aren’t as obvious as the details of a contract.
The Raiders suffered a loss today, even worse they lost out to their Ba y Area rivals. No way the 9ers’ gain makes them Super Bowl contenders just as the Raiders’ loss won’t ruin their playoff chances. This is just one of those things that comes with the business of pro football and the reality of how important it is to have chemistry in the locker room.
Cartwright will be missed even if it isn’t obvious on the field next season. The good news for him is that he didn’t have to move across country to get work. The better news is he surely made a lasting impression on the young talent in Oakland’s locker room who got to see a true pro go to work everyday.
Without guys like Jason Campbell and Rock Cartwright this franchise would still be stuck in that silver and black spiral that threatened to make the Raiders irrelevant for an entire decade. Neither of them got to compete in a playoff game as a Raider but rest assured the Raiders couldn’t have even got back into contention for playoff contests without them.