Nnamdi Asomugha to retire from football—we get Nnamdi’d one last time

Nnamdi Asomugha to retire from football—we get Nnamdi’d one last time

Wide receivers around the NFL shed some tears on Thursday evening upon hearing the news that four-time All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is retiring from pro football. Multiple outlets are reporting Asomugha will sign a one-day contract with the Oakland Raiders on Friday then ride off into the sunset. He last played for the San Francisco 49ers, but was waived on November 4.

In some parts of the world, people might ponder whether Asomugha belongs in the Hall of Fame. This particular corner will not be one of them*, because the only thing Nnamdi Asomugha is famous for around the City of Brotherly Love is being the biggest free-agent bust in Philadelphia Eagles history.

The Eagles signed Asomugha to a five-year contract worth $60 million with $25 million guaranteed in July, 2011. He was the prize piece from Joe Banner and/or Andy Reid’s Post-Lockout Summer Free-Agent Bonanza, a last-ditch effort to slap a team—a “Dream Team”—around Michael Vick after he had just taken the league by storm the previous season.

Widely considered one of the top two cornerbacks in the NFL at the time of his signing, Asomugha never lived up to his reputation as a shutdown corner. There were debates over whether the coaching staff—led at the time by offensive-line-coach-turned-defensive-coordinator Juan Castillo—was using its new personnel correctly, a theory Asomugha himself seldom denied. Regardless of technique or scheme though, he continued getting beat.

Asomugha was cut after two abysmal seasons with the Eagles. The team happily parted ways despite eating $4 million in guaranteed money in the deal. He eventually signed with the 49ers in April, but did not last the season, appearing in just three games.

What brought about his sudden decline is still not entirely clear. Asomugha had just turned 30 upon joining the Eagles, so it’s possible after eight seasons in the NFL, he simply hit a wall. It’s possible the decline began much sooner—Nnamdi had such a reputation in Oakland that quarterbacks often refused to throw or even look in his direction. Being shuffled into different roles in Philly likely accelerated the process, as opponents quickly began to see he could be exploited.

Asomugha also seemed indifferent at times. He wasn’t above upstaging his teammates on the field. He would openly question the game plan in the media. Was he unhappy with the organization or in Philadelphia? Did he lose his desire after cashing in on one last big payday?

Whatever the case, Asomugha’s rapid exit in San Fran and decision to retire indicate the Philly coaching staff didn’t break him. He was never very good to begin with by the time he got here.

So, I guess this is goodbye—at least until he acts in something again. Nnamdi Asomugha will never blow off his teammates at the cafeteria to make personal calls and eat lunch alone in his car again. He’ll never halfheartedly miss another tackle, or get burned on a deep pass and make faces at the nearest safety.

A fan base weeps for DeSean Jackson, as we all get Nnamdi’d one last time.

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*Okay, even if we did entertain the notion of Asomugha in the Hall, he spent six full seasons as a starting quarterback cornerback for the Raiders, and while they were presumably six elite seasons (even if probably they all weren’t), his career arc didn’t have enough longevity. Also, just no.

Instant Replay: Reds 5, Phillies 2

Instant Replay: Reds 5, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

Aaron Nola struggled and the Phillies' offense slumbered in a 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies had just one hit through eight innings and three overall in losing for the 21st time in the last 26 games. They scored both of their runs in the ninth inning.

Over their last six games, five of which have been losses, the Phillies have been held to three hits four times.

The Phillies have scored just nine runs in their last six games.

Nola came off the disabled list and pitched seven innings of one-run ball Sunday in Pittsburgh. He failed to build on that outing against a Cincinnati club that entered the game with nine losses in its previous 12 games.

Starting pitching report
Nola, who entered the game having given up just one home run in 23 innings this season, gave up a pair of long balls in the first two innings as the Reds jumped out to a 3-0 lead. In all, the right-hander gave up six hits and five runs over six innings.

Nola is 2-2 with a 4.34 ERA in five starts.

Cincinnati right-hander Tim Adleman's 20th big-league start was the best of his career. The right-hander pitched eight shutout innings and allowed just four baserunners on one hit, two walks and a hit batsman. He struck out four.

Adleman entered the game with a 6.19 ERA this season.

Bullpen report
Mark Leiter Jr. pitched two scoreless innings and struck out three for the Phillies.

Asher Wojciechowski lost the shutout in the ninth. Raisel Iglesias came on for the final two outs. He struck out Maikel Franco, the potential tying run, hacking wildly at a full-count breaking ball to end the game.

At the plate
Andres Blanco, the Phillies' No. 2 hitter, singled in the first inning. The Phillies did not have another hit until there was one out in the ninth.

Aaron Altherr doubled in the ninth to break up the Reds' shutout bid.

Odubel Herrera batted leadoff and ran his slump to 0 for 13 before doubling in the ninth. He hit a ball hard earlier in the game, too, but Cincinnati leftfielder Adam Duvall made a nice diving catch.

For Cincinnati, Duvall and Scott Schebler took Nola deep. Jose Peraza had a two-run single against Nola in the sixth inning. He has a 12-game hitting streak.

In the field
Cincinnati catcher Devin Mesoraco made a terrific play in starting a 2-4-3 double play to end the seventh inning.

Minor matters
Second base prospect Jesmuel Valentin had season-ending surgery on his left shoulder in Philadelphia on Friday. Valentin, who was playing at Triple A Lehigh Valley, is looking at a recovery time of four to five months. He should be ready to play winter ball in his native Puerto Rico. Valentin went down to the final days of camp in a bid to make the Phillies' opening day roster in spring training (see story).

Up next
The series continues in a 4:05 p.m. start Saturday. Jerad Eickhoff (0-5, 4.70) pitches against Bronson Arroyo (3-4, 6.75).

NHL Notes: Predators' P.K. Subban rides whirlwind to Stanley Cup Final

NHL Notes: Predators' P.K. Subban rides whirlwind to Stanley Cup Final

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It has been an extraordinary 11 months for P.K. Subban.

The defenseman moved from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference. Left his native Canada to live in the American South. Blended in with new teammates, created a new home and learned a new system of money, too.

Oh, and along the way the former star for the Montreal Canadiens played a key role in Nashville's stirring run to the Stanley Cup Final.

The best way to sum up Subban's approach? C'est la vie.

"I just tried to have the right attitude when change comes my way," Subban said. "I think when you have an open mind, an open mind is like a gold mine. You just have an open mind, you can only go up from there regardless of what comes your way and just always try to approach things in a positive way."

The Canadiens and Predators shocked the NHL last June 29 when Nashville swapped captain Shea Weber for Subban in a rare one-for-one trade of All-Star defensemen. Adding Subban's offensive skills immediately made the Predators a popular pick to be right where they are now as the Western Conference champions.

The stylish Subban has as much flair on the ice with his goal celebrations as off with his hats and stylish suits. The Predators and their fans have embraced all of it.

"When it happened, I came in here with the right attitude and just wanted to be a part of this team and do whatever I can do to help a team win," Subban said (see full story).

Penguins: Team rides maturity, resilience back to Cup Final
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz stood shoulder to shoulder at center ice as midnight approached, crowd on its feet, Prince of Wales Trophy in hand. Another shot at the Stanley Cup in the offing.

On the surface, it could have been a scene ripped from 2008 when the longtime Pittsburgh Penguin teammates earned their first crack at a championship together, the one that was supposed to be the launching pad for a dynasty.

A closer look at the weary, grateful smiles told a different story.

This team has learned over the last decade that nothing can be taken for granted. Not their individual greatness or postseason success, even for one of the NHL's marquee franchises. Not the cohesion it takes to survive the crucible of the most draining championship chase in professional team sports or the mental toughness (along with a dash of luck) needed to stay on top once you get there.

So Crosby paused in the giddy aftermath of Pittsburgh's 3-2 victory over Ottawa in Game 7 of the helter-skelter Eastern Conference finals to do something the two-time Hart Trophy winner almost never does. He took stock of the moment, aware of how fleeting they can be.

"Every series you look at, the margin for error is so slim," Crosby said. "We've just continued to find ways and different guys have stepped up. We trust in that and we believe in that and whoever has come in the lineup has done a great job. That builds confidence. We've done it different ways, which is probably our biggest strength" (see full story).