Kolb: Stand-up guy, but just a bit naive

Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb , working out last week, said he won't let being in NFL limbo turn him into an obnoxious distraction to his teammates.
Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb , working out last week, said he won't let being in NFL limbo turn him into an obnoxious distraction to his teammates. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 30, 2011

Kevin Kolb is most certainly not, as he so eloquently put in scatological terms the other day, a contemptible person. That type of person would not have taken the high road last season when he was unceremoniously benched after being assured he was the Eagles' starting quarterback. That type would not have supported his successor, Michael Vick, and kept whatever ill will he felt for his head coach to himself.

That type of person would not have said so eloquently after the season that, while he loves it here in Philadelphia, he really does feel he deserves an opportunity to start elsewhere in the National Football League. And given all that has happened, that type of person would not have gotten on a plane last week and flown from Texas to join the only NFL teammates he has ever known in informal workouts, even though he certainly does not expect to be playing with them once the 2011 season begins.

So no, Kevin Kolb is not a contemptible person. But he might be a touch naive.

After joining several Eagles offensive players at a high school in South Jersey on Thursday for a workout organized by Vick and Eagles tight end Brent Celek, Kolb spoke again about his uncertain situation, and how the lockout has been particularly hard on him. In a perfect NFL world, Kolb would now know where he would be playing. The Eagles presumably would have traded him before or during the draft in exchange for a defensive player who could step in and start right away.

But this is not a perfect NFL world. It is an NFL world that has stopped spinning on its axis. No trades. No player movement. No clue for players such as Kolb on where they might be playing next.

So Kolb, like many other players in limbo, must wait.

Speaking publicly for the first time in several weeks, Kolb told reporters about a conversation he had with Eagles coach Andy Reid on the day a judge temporarily lifted the lockout. Kolb texted Reid, not to inquire about his status with the team but just to check in for the first time since the lockout began. Unprompted, Reid brought up Kolb's situation, and at the end, according to Kolb, said: "I'll do what's best for you."

"He does that for all his players, and all his coaches," Kolb added. "That's what makes him great, that's why he's been around as long as any coach that's coaching right now."

That is halfway true. Reid will do what is best for his players, as long as it also is what is best for the franchise. That is his job. His ultimate responsibility is to the franchise, not to the players. Reid's job is to win, and win now, and if that means moving a player, then that is what he will do.

If it is in the Eagles' best interest to trade Kolb, if they can get a top-notch cornerback or defensive end in return or a first-round 2012 draft pick, they will trade Kolb, not because Kolb wants to be a starter but because he has value. If the Eagles cannot orchestrate a trade for value, in all likelihood they will keep Kolb, not because it is in Kolb's best interest to play behind Vick another season but because, in lieu of acquiring a starter or a top-shelf draft pick, Kolb's value to the Eagles is as insurance for Vick. If that means they ultimately have to let Kolb walk in 2012, well, so be it.

Reid probably does have a soft spot for Kolb, given the professional way he handled what could have been a very ugly situation last year. Reid understands that it is bad policy to yank a starter after an injury, especially a starting quarterback. That Kolb never outwardly complained, never caused a stink even though he was understandably crushed, said a lot about Kolb's character and his team-first mentality.

Certainly Reid respects that. He might even feel that he owes Kolb another chance somewhere else, especially since Vick will go into the 2011 season, whenever there is a 2011 season, as the starter.

But depending on the market for Kolb, Reid also could certainly spin another scenario, about how valuable Kolb is as a backup given Vick's injury history, about how he really views his quarterbacks as No. 1 and No. 1A, and about how it is a beautiful thing in the National Football League to have two starting-caliber quarterbacks.

It all depends on what is best for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Whatever happens, expect Kolb to handle the situation with class. He is that type of guy. Sure, he wants to start. Sure, he wants to be the man. But by coming to Philadelphia last week to reconnect with his friends and teammates, Kolb showed that he is not letting his situation be all about him.

"I want my opportunity," Kolb said. "If the situation [staying with the Eagles] can't be avoided, I'm not going to sit there and [cause trouble]. That's not my style. I think that I've voiced my opinion, and there's nothing more I can do. Just like always, whatever situation arises, I'll just have to roll with the punches."

A contemptible person would not do that, either.


Contact columnist Ashley Fox at 215-854-5064, afox@phillynews.com or @AshleyMFox on Twitter.

 

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