Forte spoke as a guest interviewee at Christ Community Church in St. Charles, Ill.
ST. CHARLES, IL – Loyalty in the NFL really has two strains: Loyalty between a franchise and a player, and loyalty between those in the locker room.
Sometimes, despite their best wishes, time has a way of slowly detaching franchises from players that have given them wins, records and fans for their tenures.
NFL veteran running back Matt Forte learned how harsh that reality can be as he prepares for his ninth NFL season – the first donning a different uniform.
“There’s no loyalty anyway because they don’t care about the player specifically,” Forte shared with executive pastor Eric Rojas Saturday night at Christ Community Church in St. Charles, Illinois, as a guest interviewee as part of the church’s “WOW Weekend”. “They care about the team. No matter how strong the ties are between the player and the team.
“You’re always just a jersey number,”
Forte left Chicago as the franchise’s second-leading rusher behind Walter Payton and is the fifth player in NFL history with at least eight seasons of 800 rushing yards and 300 receiving yards.
The 1,200 people in attendance learned about Forte’s faith, early football career as well as his relationship with reunited teammate, Brandon Marshall.
“I constantly hold him accountable and same thing with me,” Forte said of Marshall. “If I see him say something or do something, I’m like, ‘That’s out of character of you, Brandon.’ We talk about it in private, and things get handled that way like men.”
Forte told the story of calling the embattled wide receiver on the phone one day, and telling him, “Brandon, you didn’t really hold yourself accountable at the same time.”
“He didn’t really like that,” Forte recalled.
“When I talked to him, I was just saying in this book I read, when you hold bitterness in your heart, you’re the only one that gets hurt because the other person – they’ve forgotten about it,” Forte said. “But, you’re still holding on to that, and so it keeps you from growing. It keeps you from going forward, and you’re staying in the same place stuck in the mud because you’re bitter.”
Forte also reflected on his former quarterback, Jay Cutler.
“I feel bad for him because the cameras are constantly on him,” Forte said. “They show his body language, and I mean, if you look on the sideline and something goes bad, everybody’s body langauge is that way. He’s the quarterback. He’s the one in the spotlight.
“In the media, that’s the thing to pick on. That’s the thing that sells papers, so that’s what they’re gonna pick on. That’s what they’re gonna write about no matter what he says.
“I’ve seen him grow from when he came in, it was my second year, all the way till now. He has kids, family, married – all that stuff, so he’s grown a lot. And, his personality has changed a lot over the years.”
The NFL’s ‘best all-around back’ in the past eight years, as Marshall put it, is likely headed for a healthy dose of reps – especially considering the Jets’ current quarterback conundrum with free agent Ryan Fitzpatrick currently in-flux and a compromise seemingly nowhere in sight.
Whether Marshall and Forte can both replicate their 2013 Pro Bowl success will be just one key in their quest to dethrone the Patriots atop the AFC East.
“Obviously, I wanted to stay in [Chicago], but the Bears had other decisions,” Forte said. “God is still good through all of this. I always look back and say I could be at home not doing anything at the same time. The Jets are great.”