$10.3 million is a lot of money. You can buy a lot ice cold adult beverages with that kind of dough. Or in Peria Jerry's case, you can walk away from professional football, leaving almost a million dollars on the table.
A quick disclaimer: if you would prefer to never hear Jerry's name again, or if you think re-hashing his departure is a waste of time, then stop reading now. Not too difficult, eh?
OK, if you're still with me, let's get to it. Jerry left the Falcons unexpectedly, that much was confirmed in this week's episode of Hard Knocks. It seemingly came as a surprise to both his teammates and the coaching staff, especially Mike Smith. Heck, it seemed like Smith was trying to talk him out of it.
The airing of his retirement on HBO’s Hard Knocks appeared to catch Falcons coach Mike Smith off guard. Jerry was the 24th overall pick of the 2009 NFL draft and was likely headed for a reserve role.
But the Falcons quickly moved on. They signed Theo Agnew and inserted RaShede Hageman in Jerry's spot in the defensive tackle rotation.
#Falcons rookie DE RaShede Hageman has taken over Peria Jerry's spot on the second-team defense behind Tyson Jackson.— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) July 31, 2014
Admittedly this isn't too complicated. There are only so many potential explanations. And as a rule of thumb, I like to think the simplest explanation is also the most likely explanation. So what are the possibilities?
First, it's possible Jerry was just breaking down. This was alluded to by Mike Smith in the 1st Hard Knocks episode - something about his body not responding well. And to be fair, his body isn't what it once was; after all, he was in his mid-20s when he entered the league. It's akin to what the Giants' David Wilson did. If you're not familiar with Wilson's circumstances, the Giants basically told him to stop playing football. They were concerned about his long-term health if he continued. For Jerry, that wasn't the case. Or was it? We don't know what the training staff was telling Jerry. Maybe they told him he'd be unwise to not retire. If they did, Smith seemingly didn't know anything about it.
Another possibility is apathy. Maybe it just wasn't fun for Jerry anymore. Faced with the prospect of a mentally and physically exhausting training camp and with money in the bank, Jerry might've just pulled the plug.
A third possibility is Jerry's ego. He knew he wasn't going to get a ton of playing time, and with Hageman getting a lot of attention, maybe he saw himself riding the pine to excess. If Hageman had supplanted him, he have been a third team player, making the league minimum. That can be a lot to stomach as a former first round draft pick, especially when your entire legacy is questionable to start with.
In any case, the part that throws me is the timing. I mean, he had all off-season to think about it. He could've retired after entering free agency. We would've understood. But he didn't.
To be honest, we may never know what happened. Your thoughts?