Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha left Oakland to be part of a winning culture. He hadn't experienced many wins as a Raider. After eight seasons, he was ready to start winning games.
Needless to say, things haven't panned out the way Asomugha or the Eagles envisioned. The Eagles are a combined 11-15 since signing the former Raider. Many fans have been disappointed in Asomugha's play since arriving, and he understands. He holds himself to that high standard, too.
"My expectations of myself are always going to be higher, no matter what scheme I'm in or what team I'm playing for," Asomugha said Friday after practice. "As far as team and individually, my expectations were so high. And things just declined so quickly that it was like, team-wise and player-wise, it was something like I'm playing catch-up and trying to get it back on the right foot."
A sports fan himself, Asomugha knows what fans expect from free agents – especially ones with the kind of pedigree that preceded him in Philadelphia. Asked if he understands the fans' frustrations with him not being "Superman" and playing up to those expectations, he said he absolutely gets it.
"As a fan, I can look back to teams that I like and when a player I've liked comes in expecting it to just change, and it not working out, and being upset about that," he said. "So I can't now be that guy and look at (fans) and say, 'You can't be upset now.' We haven't won. I haven't been that Superman on the field, even though that's what's been expected of me."
Asomugha has been in situations like this before. He was drafted in 2003, the year after the Raiders went to the Super Bowl. Over the next eight seasons, the best record the Raiders would attain was 8-8 in Asomugha's final season in Oakland. Those disappointing seasons have taught him to be tough.
"I'm mentally strong because I haven't had the success that I've wanted since I was a rookie," Asomugha said. "But mentally I've been able to deal with that and believe that at some point it's going to turn around. I think I've dealt with it well. I think mentally I'll always have that belief that things will turn around."
He's also been preaching this to the young players, many of whom come from big-time college programs. For many of them, a six-game losing streak is unheard of. Asomugha said that younger players often ask him how he deals with it.
"I've talked to some of them, and that's one of the things that they say, is 'Mentally, how do you handle this sort of situation?'" he explained. "Not just the losing, but losing in this environment. Losing is different. No one wants to lose. You want to win everything you're doing. But as they pointed out and as we all know, you have to win here. You just have to win here. So I get that question a lot from younger guys and I just try to talk to them; keep their head in it.
"When you believe in yourself; you believe in your team, no matter what's going on, I'm one of the people who believes it turns around at some point."
Asomugha isn't a defeatist. He left Oakland because he believed in the Eagles. He's been on bad teams and knows the Eagles will be able to turn it around and thrive. For him, the most important thing is to approach each situation, good or bad, and grow from it.
"Whatever happens or has happened, I always have the mindset that there's something to learn from it and there's a way to grow," Asomugha said. "I think, especially with the type of stuff we've been through the past year and a half, when your mindset does have, 'What did you learn from it? How can you become a better man from it?' that's going to help you on the field. That's always been my mentality. I absolutely believe in the decision that I made and I believe in this team."
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