I’m not going to lie. Professionally, it stunk those three straight years when Bertrand Berry suffered season-ending injuries. Don’t worry, I’m sure it was much harder on Berry, but as a guy who has to get player comments for a living, losing a veteran who was well spoken and who could give you something on almost any trend story or subject around the team is never good.
That’s one of the things I’ll remember most about Berry, who announced his retirement Thursday night. I’ll always remember how, after he made the Pro Bowl in 2004, he told us in a post-practice press conference he preferred to be called “Bertrand” instead of “Bert” — and then always wonder why so many coaches and teammates called him “Bert.” I’ll remember his dominant 2004 performance where he had 14.5 sacks despite not having anyone else to really draw the offense’s blocking attention. I’ll remember him sacking Giants quarterback Kurt Warner four times in a game that year, the game that drove Warner from the starting lineup in New York (and a game neither one really wanted to talk about after they became teammates).
I’ll remember his emotion after the Cards’ playoff run and Super Bowl appearance a year ago. This was a guy who signed as a free agent when Dennis Green arrived, certain Green was the one to lead the Cards’ renaissance. Obviously, that didn’t happen, and the frustration built for Berry over a few seasons, between the losses and the injuries that cost him half a season in 2005, 2006 and 2007. There was also some frustration with his contract the last couple years, as he ended up having to play for a lower salary than he had when he first showed up.
But Berry noted tonight he thought he “played the game the right way” and he’s right. There were times he could have popped off when he was upset and he never did. He tried to play his role and was a big part of the Cards’ turnaround — which is exactly what he always wanted.
Nothing is set yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Berry hang around. He’s had a thing for broadcasting — hosting the “Big Red Rage” radio show for years and attending the NFL’s broadcast boot camp a couple years ago — and maybe something can be worked out with the Cards in such a capacity. Berry did say he was looking for new challenges. That would qualify (and the Cards did just lose Rob Moore to Syracuse ….)
Including playoffs, Berry led the Cardinals with eight sacks this season. In the end, I’ll remember Bertrand’s ability to still have his shining moments on a football field, delivering his trademark whistle pull — he was the B-Train, after all — following every sack. I’ll remember Bertrand Berry going out on his own terms.
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