NEW ORLEANS — When Jabari Greer got the news that the Saints were going to release him, he began reflecting on things that elder statesmen in the NFL begin to do when the end is nearing.
What would he tell people feeling badly for him?
What would he tell people who wondered if he was going to be OK?
And what would his legacy be?
Then, as he walked down the street to Whole Foods with his son Jeshian, singing a song they made up that went “Poppity pop pop popcorn, poppity pop popcorn,” he suddenly had no more questions.
“An hour or two after I got what was supposed to be some of the most devastating news of a player’s career, I’m walking and I’m having the time of my life with my son,” Greer said Wednesday night. “I realized at that moment, that no matter what happened, that’s going to be my legacy.
“The legacy is going to live on through the development of my family. Their futures and their character are going to tell the story.”
Greer, 32, was one of three players released by the Saints on Wednesday. Will Smith and Roman Harper were the other two. Additionally, they announced they wouldn’t re-sign Jonathan Vilma.
All four played a critical role in New Orleans’ rise to prominence since 2006. Smith and Harper were with the team during the ’06 Back from Katrina season. Vilma landed with the team two years later in a trade. And Greer came in 2009, one of the final pieces that put New Orleans over the top on its way to a win in Super Bowl XLIV.
But just four years later, their salary cap numbers rose too high for the team to keep up with; prior to Wednesday’s moves, the Saints were reported to be anywhere between $12-15 million over the cap.
That’s one of the reasons Greer was released, he said. Not his knee injury.
“I understand the nature of the business,” he said. “It could happen to anyone. Was I expecting it? No. Is it surprising? No.”
“There wasn’t a particular indication,” Greer added. “It’s just the business aspect of the game. They have a certain salary cap number they had to get under and some tough decisions to be made.”
So, what’s next for Greer?
He’ll continue to rehabilitate the left knee that suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament on Nov. 17 in New Orleans’ win over San Francisco.
He’ll also focus on his family, including his wife Katrina.
“I’m just going to pour my spirit out, pour my love out on my family,” Greer said. “I foresee that going really well.”
For now, he’ll stay in New Orleans unless he finds work elsewhere.
No matter what, though, he’ll always have a connection with New Orleans.
“We foresee being here unless we’re called somewhere else,” Greer said. “For the time, this is our home and we love it. We want to be here no matter if I play football or not.”