Shocked Esiason requests release Cardinals QB skips practice after benching

December 12, 1996|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

One day after being benched for Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins, Arizona quarterback Boomer Esiason failed to practice yesterday and is requesting to be released.

"My assumption is we will not have Boomer as a backup for Washington," said Cardinals coach Vince Tobin. "His indication to me is he no longer wants to play here. He felt like his career had been revitalized with those three super wins, and he was our starting quarterback."

Tobin said Esiason was at the Cardinals' training complex yesterday and "talked to some people, but didn't come to practice."

When Tobin informed Esiason on Tuesday that Kent Graham would start, Esiason asked for his release during a meeting with Tobin later that night.

"I had a nice man-to-man talk for more than an hour with Vince," said Esiason, who passed for 522 yards in a 37-34 overtime win over Washington on Nov. 10. "I told him I want to leave here in good stead. But I asked to be released so that I can regain a measure of self-respect. I was shocked [to be benched]."

There has been some speculation that money prompted the benching.

The Cardinals would save $300,000 in performance incentives if Esiason did not play one more half in the final two games this season.

Tobin said yesterday that he was not aware of any incentive clauses in Esiason's contract until after he decided to start Graham.

Pub Date: 12/12/96

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