The Indianapolis Colts lost a good one today, as safety Antoine Bethea signed a $23 million deal over four seasons to play for the San Francisco 49ers.
And by a good one, we do not mean just a high-end player, although Bethea’s eight seasons with the Colts, the last six each with 100-plus tackles on his roster sheet, speaks to that. Bethea was also a style czar among Colts players, as evidenced by his studded sneakers featured in our December 2013 issue. We wondered, was that just three months ago? Aye, pro football can be a cruel business. Then again, he did just ink a deal with the Niners for $23 million, lest we forget.
No one understands that better than Bethea, who left the Colts despite teammates Adam Vinatieri (kicker) and Vontae Davis (cornerback) re-signing with the team today. It was as if Bethea sang “Don’t cry for me, Indianapolis” about the matter on Twitter:
Indy it’s been real… Fans and city showed me nothing but love my eight years there and greeted me w/ open arms Appreciate all the support!
— Antoine Bethea (@Tweez41) March 11, 2014
One observer was blunt about it, as is the wont of venerable Indianapolis Star sports columnist Bob Kravitz:
It’s a shame about Bethea, a great soldier, good guy, helluva player. But he was expendable. Tough business, football.
— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) March 11, 2014
More from ESPN here about Bethea’s departure.