Rolen, who was arguably the best Cardinal third baseman in my lifetime (sorry, David Freese), had a hand in helping us win the 2006 World Series as well as our 2004 National League pennant, the first for the club since 1987, the year after I was born.
Despite those things, when Rolen got injured in 2005, this after having an MVP-like 2004 campaign, he was never the same player. And although I do remember screaming at the top of my lungs the moment Rolen hit a two-run homer to clinch our 16th National League flag, the thinking that most people in the Cardinal front office had as the team entered the 2007 season was that at the third base position in St. Louis had to get younger.
So, after the 2007 season, Rolen would be shipped to the Blue Jays for Troy Glaus, a move that prompted me to frame my Scott Rolen authentic jersey, placing it next to my Jim Edmonds and later, my Albert Pujols jersey.
Arriving via a trade from the Jets prior to the 2008 season, Jonathan Vilma was a bright spot for what was at the time one of the weakest defensive units in the NFL, recording 132 tackles in his first season as a Saint. Along with that, Vilma would be the winner of the Ed Block Courage Award, an honor that would be bestowed upon him from his teammates.
After signing a new contract prior to the 2009 season, Vilma would be elected as one of the defensive captains as he recorded 86 tackles that year and played a role in the Saints' Super Bowl run. And even though Vilma earned Pro Bowl honors in back-to-back seasons (2009 and 2010), his play diminished drastically, largely due to his lingering knee problems, problems that forced him to miss six games during the 2011 season.
While everyone in the Who Dat Nation, including myself, saluted the historic victory he delivered over Roger the Dictator (word to Paul Tagilibue), what was lost in the mess that was the bounty scandal was that Vilma, despite the fact that his smarts in so many words propelled the Saints to a victory in Super Bowl 44, was on the decline as a player.
A decline that was accelerated in 2013 when Vilma, who had knee surgery in August, his fourth such occurrence since November of 2011, left in the Saints' 26-20 loss to the New York Jets on November 3rd.
Now that the acts of Jonathan Vilma's career in New Orleans have been written, what will his legacy be in the Crescent City?
Will it be his leadership?
Or his victory over Goodell?
You tell me.
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