A few months back, before training camp started, I did a commercial photo shoot for RSP Nutrition that featured Jon Beason in product placement shots. Jon arrived with a friendly smile and handshake. He looked liked the Jon Beason of old. But did he feel like he Jon Beason of old? I have had a few photo shoots with Jon among other social interactions. I'd consider him more of a friend than an acquaintance.
"How ya feeling Jon" I asked, expecting his usual upbeat "ready to go" or "getting better every day". If Beason is anything, its an optimist.
Instead he replied with a "We'll see" with a hint of unsureness. I knew then something was up.
Since then, Jon Beason has worked through the pain of micro fracture surgery. He already has done what most people could not do in making it back to the NFL playing field. Motivation has never been a problem with Jon.
Last night's trade announcement, while heartbreaking for Panthers fans, is probably the best thing for all parties involved.
Once his salary was restructured to allow Beason to become a Free Agent at the end of the 2013 season, I knew this would be his last season as a Panther. Beason is a middle linebacker, and a good one at that. With the rise of Luke Kuechly as the best MLB in the game, Beason staying in Carolina would mean he would not be in a situation to be the very best football player he can be. If you know Jon Beason at all, you know that fact would not sit well with him.
The New York Giants give Beason a real opportunity to get his career back on the middle track it needs to be on.
In return, the New York Giants get a linebacker with tremendous leadership, work ethic, and a willingness to play through pain.
The Panthers gain a late round draft pick. In a 2014 draft that will be heavy in offensive line for the Panthers, that is nothing to laugh at. Considering starting right tackle Byron Bell was never even drafted, a seventh round offensive line gem of a pick is not too hard to imagine.
Win - Win - Win
Will there be a leadership void left on the defense? You bet. But with Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly on the team, it won't take long for it to be filled.
All in all, we should all be grateful to Jon for the good memories he provided over the years in a Panthers uniform.
I know I'll be pulling for 52 in New York, and so should you.