Parity is what makes the NFL so great, but it comes with a cost.
Steven Jackson is not a Ram. That's a weird thing to say. For the first time since 2004, for the first time since Tyler and the SB Nation folks decided having a blog about the St. Louis Rams wouldn't impugn network credibility (we started TST in 2006), those dreadlocks are not attached to a blue and gold uniform.
He could be back with the Rams in 2013, but he probably won't.
There are other teams that will want Jackson in the fold, teams with Super Bowl aspirations in 2013, teams that can offer Jackson a larger role than the bit part he would have played in St. Louis this season as the Rams start leaning on younger players to carry the team into the future.
I've made all the rationalizations in my head. Jackson will be 30 this season; that's up there for a running back. Investing money in an 30-year old running back is not how young teams get better. Every logical argument there is, I can spit it out in a second, a handy bullet point list for your water cooler conversations.
Hell, there was a part of me that wanted those trade rumors last October to come to fruition. The best way to deal with loss is to accept the inevitability of it.
Doing it this way drags out the process. Days and days of free agent speculation will tantalizingly hold out the possibility of a return, no matter how unlikely it really is.
Watching a favorite player get written out of the team's plans is nothing new. Kurt Warner, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, etc. The NFL succeeds because of its incredible commitment to parity, but parity comes with a price for fans.
Would you rather see your favorite team competitive on a regular basis or hang onto cherished players with run of the mill results? Frame it that way, and the answer is an easy one. Put a face on the player, and it's a tougher question to answer.
The last few times the Rams parted ways with fan favorites, the front office and coaches didn't live up to their end of the bargain. It's why Steven Jackson toiled with terrible teams surrounding him. He went to the playoffs just once, his rookie season, and the Rams haven't had a season on the right side of .500 for the entirety of Jackson's career.
God, those were some awful Rams teams, and even the ones that showed a little promise only got worse. All we had was Jackson, which makes the fan relationship with him so much different than even the one we had with the GSOT players.
Finally, the Rams are on the right track, after nearly a decade of trying, and just in time to have to separate themselves from Steven Jackson, the team's best and most iconic player of the last decade.
At least we're finally getting something in return for saying goodbye.
Let's end with a GIF of Jackson in full beast mode, because he was totally beast mode before there was an official beast mode.