An all-time classy move from Shaq Leonard. The 28 year old, 3 time Pro Bowl linebacker was let go by the Indianapolis Colts earlier today after 6 years with the team.
He burst out of the gate and earned the Defensive Rookie of the Year award and was named All-Pro in his first season and continued this dominance for the next three years, but then injuries struck.
He underwent back surgery in the 2022 offseason and then suffered a concussion, broken nose, and reinjured his back when he made his return. This season he was back in action, but he was a far cry from his once dominant self, which forced the Colts to make a move to clear up some cap space. (Fingers crossed the Steelers pick him up, we need some linebacker depth with all the injuries they’ve had this year.)
Jim Irsay made the following statement regarding Leonard being let go:
“Colts Nation will always remember The Maniac’s palpable energy on the field with each tackle, interception, punchout, and fumble recovery.
Off the field, he’s a servant leader and assisted numerous families in both his hometown and the Indianapolis community. We’re thankful for Shaq and the contributions he made to our organization. We wish him and his beautiful family the best moving forward.”
While many owners and coaches talk about players off-field contributions to the community when they are let go, what Shaq Leonard did today proves it wasn’t just lip service.
Today, members of the Colts Defense hosted a Thanksgiving meal giveaway where struggling members of the community could show up and get what they would need to have a great Thanksgiving meal, and none other than Shaq Leonard was front and center, handing out turkeys and talking with members of the Indianapolis community.
I mean, that’s an awesome thing to do. I can’t imagine getting effectively fired and still showing up to a company charity event that same day, but that’s exactly what Leonard did and he seemed to be in good spirits while he was there.
In an interview at the giveaway, he spoke with local news outlets about his release:
“It was a surprise, it was the biggest surprise ever, you know, but I don’t make those decisions. You know, it was shocking. I asked for a November meeting, guess I got a November meeting, so I guess you’ve got to be careful what you ask for…
I just wish it would have went a little different, I feel like I gave a lot to this community, I gave a lot to the team, and I gave a lot to the organization… I just feel like I should have been there through the end, I guess. I think that’s the thing I’m most hurt about.”
Listening to him talk about being let go really makes you feel for the guy. At his best, he’s easily one of the best defenders in the league and I’m sure it won’t be too long before he finds a new home. Hopefully in Pittsburgh, this guy would be so good in a Mike Tomlin defense…
#Colts LB Shaq Leonard joked that he felt like Craig from the movie “Friday” since he got cut on his day off, but he still showed up to pass out turkeys to the Indy community for Thanksgiving.