Head coach Andy Reid addressed the media about the team's decision to part ways with running back Brian Westbrook. Reid said that Westbrook is one of the greatest players that has ever played for him and that Westbrook will always be welcome to return to the organization.
"This is a tough day for the Philadelphia Eagles," Reid said in his opening statement. "Any time you have to release a player like Brian Westbrook, that's not an easy thing to do, neither for us (nor) for Brian. I had an opportunity to talk to Brian this morning ... about the situation and informed him that we were going to go in a different direction. Brian was tremendous, he was very professional. I think we all know that Brian is one of the all-time great Philadelphia Eagles and what we've done here over the years - Brian has been just a huge part of building this program to the level that we're at now. My heart will always be a Brian Westbrook fan as we go forward here.
"I mentioned in the release that I have a hard time believing that there's another running back who's played in the National Football League who's been as valuable to a team in so many different ways than what Brian has meant to us both on the field and off the field. As great - and I'm talking great - as great a football player as he is, as smart a football player as he is, he's even a better person off the field. So that's what makes this thing very, very tough. We did this at this particular time so we could allow Brian an opportunity to hook on with another football team if he chooses to do that with the new league year approaching here on (March 5). It gives both he and his agent an opportunity to pursue other opportunities if that's the direction that they go in."
Jason La Canfora of NFL Network reports that the Eagles will officially release Westbrook on March 5, the first day of the official league year. Announcing the impending release now, Reid said, "allows (Westbrook) the opportunity to maximize his ability to go get another job."
Westbrook, the second-leading rusher in Eagles history (5,995 yards), is one of the most unique and well-rounded players to ever don an Eagles uniform. His 4.6 yards per carry average is the highest of any running back in Eagles history, but Westbrook made his mark in more ways than just running the ball. He's also third in franchise history with 426 receptions, and his 9,785 yards from scrimmage are tops in Eagles history.
"He had no weaknesses," Reid said. "There wasn't any one thing that you could pick out that he was not good at it. He was brilliant. There are just certain guys that are just football smart and he was one of those guys. You never had to tell him anything more than one time and it was done and you had confidence that it was going to be done. He's a great pass-blocker. He's a great receiver, and we all know he's a great runner - and he could run inside, he could run outside. He's strong. For his size he was very, very strong and he had a lot of flexibility there.
"You noticed that when you brought in other running backs and you said, 'Okay, this is what we have. We have this package that is enormous.' And then you fully grasp Brian's really exceptional knowledge of the game so thank goodness he was here to help the younger guys progress and that he was willing to share with them things for them as professionals."
Reid acknowledged that LeSean McCoy becomes the primary running back moving forward.
"Obviously that's who is going to take the ball from here, as you'd say," Reid said.
Though today is not a day to look forward. Instead, it is a day to reflect upon all that Westbrook has meant to the Eagles.
"This is absolutely the worst part of the job," Reid said. "But, if you're fortunate to stick around long enough, you're going to see these things happen and you're going to develop these relationships and because this happens, that doesn't destroy the relationship. That relationship will go on as long as we're around."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 3:58 p.m., February 23*