The offseason is cruel. Besides the obvious lack of actual football, the offseason is also home to tough releases, cap casualties and emotional retirements. In the world of roster building, it's easy to lose perspective. Players -- real people, mind you -- become a set of names in a depth chart accompanied by figures that fit neatly into a salary cap. Adding and subtracting becomes as inhumanely simple as cutting and pasting into an excel budget.
But these aren't just figures, they're people. "Easy decisions" irreversibly change players' lives, break budding friendship and force goodbyes on the unsuspecting. The Detroit Lions learned that lesson the hard way, as two of their biggest personalities, Joique Bell and Rashean Mathis, saw their careers come to an end in Detroit. Though Mathis was able to leave on his own terms, Bell wasn't as lucky, as the unlikely hometown hero became too much of a liability at his swollen price tag.
Lions players celebrated Mathis' career on Twitter, thanking him for how he changed their lives for the better:
I'm go miss my big brother words can't describe the love I have for u big homie. Retirement of the great R.Mathis✊ pic.twitter.com/cwe4l1KIyg— Darius slay (@_bigplayslay23) February 16, 2016
Blessed to be able to learn so much from Shean in 1 year! I appreciate it Wisdom!! https://t.co/aE1LYHYejy— Quandre Diggs (@qdiggs6) February 16, 2016
Appreciate you elder! https://t.co/KJOpxcinO8— Caraun Reid (@ChopReid) February 16, 2016
S/o to one of the best pro Rashean "Grandpa" Mathis on a great career! What an honor to learn from you! Great example! Great person! Thank u— Kyle Van Noy (@KVN_03) February 16, 2016
Congrats Rashean, on a great career! It was an honor to take the field w you.— Lance Moore (@LanceMoore16) February 16, 2016
The mood around Bell was a little more somber. A release isn't cause for celebration, but rather a conflicting mixture of frustration and acceptance. Eric Ebron was apparently too shocked for words:
Lance Moore, on the other hand, was brief in his support for the now former Lions running back:
@JoiqueBell preach brotha!— Lance Moore (@LanceMoore16) February 16, 2016
But Bell holds no grudges against the team that was able to launch his professional career. Like he was during his entire playing career, Bell was humble and respectful in his farewell to Detroit:
Good luck, Joique Bell and Rashean Mathis. You will very clearly be missed.