Calais Campbell left as a free agent, a move that was frankly expected long before we got to the actual departure. But that certainly doesn't erase nine great years of Campbell as a Cardinal, both on and off the field, with the gentle giant and his cookie monster-type voice making an impact in opposing backfields and on the fan base. You wouldn't find a nicer guy, someone who interacted with anyone that approached, whether it be at training camp or at his Big Red Rage radio shows.
Now, Campbell has penned his farewell to the fans in The Players Tribune. His voice actually is a key part of the article. "Nine years is a long time. That's a lot of hikes up Camelback Mountain and double orders at Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles. I wish so badly that I could have helped bring Arizona the Super Bowl title it deserves, but I'm still proud of every second I spent here. I'm a much better person for it.
There were a lot of places where I could have started my career, but I'm so glad I found my way to the desert. I'm never going to forget where I lost my voice.
And also found it." It's a great read and well worth your time. Campbell takes you from the time right before he was drafted through the Super Bowl and all his years with the team.
On a personal level, I hate to see Calais go. I think I have a good relationship with most everyone on the roster, but there was no one more helpful than Campbell. From my perspective, he was a go-to guy, because he was always there. Need a comment about the big picture? Calais. Need to talk to someone after the Cards had a bad game or were in a bad rut? Calais. All those times Bruce Arians made pointed comments about Campbell needing to play better? Calais didn't shy away. He answered, and many times, agreed that he needed to do better (Make no mistake, Campbell was brutally hard on himself when the team or he wasn't playing the way they should, even with his generally sunny disposition.) When neither Carson Palmer or Larry Fitzgerald wanted to talk to the media after pretty significant contract extensions in training camp last season, Campbell was the one to face the cameras and talk about how important it was for the team -- even at the time knowing that he too was going into the final year of his contract and that his own extension might never come.
It took Campbell a long time to earn Pro Bowl recognition, a long time to prove that he was a very good second-round pick. He was under the radar in a lot of ways, partly because he developed in those lost years of 2010-2012 when the Cards weren't in the thick of national conversation. But the Cards knew what they had -- he got a big contract in Jacksonville, but he got one in Arizona in 2012 too -- and he certainly left an impressive legacy over his nine seasons in the desert.