Football is a business.
At the end of the day - despite the win-loss records, the comeback victories, the OT wins, and all Chris Berman's "that's why they play the game" rhetoric - it's professional football and it's about money.
Even to the players.
Make no mistake, good players are in it for the competition, the drama, the fun ... and Hall-of-Famers are in it for the love of working harder and ultimately chasing championships.
But they still want to get paid.
Players, coaches, owners still know it's a job, and it's business, and as Champ Bailey so eloquently put it after being released, that "sucks."
Fans are the only party involved with no real monetary return on investment in this professional sport (excluding Fantasy Football, of course).
Releasing Champ Bailey after 10 years as a Denver Bronco - eight of which he was arguably among the best cornerbacks in the game - is purely a business decision.
But Bailey choosing not to retire is a business decision too.
He's 35. He has 34 interceptions while on the Broncos roster. His end-zone interception and 100-yard run against the New England Patriots in the 2005-06 divisional playoffs will arguably go down as one of his greatest plays - and it would make an NFL highlight reel any day of the week.
But he's 35. And he spent 11 games on the bench this past season. And the Seahawks walked (ran) all over him in the Super Bowl.
It's not that Bailey couldn't still play. But there's no doubt - even from him - that he's not at the top of his game anymore. The foot injury is still there and recovery doesn't get any easier with each year. That's an expensive bench warmer.
If this game weren't a business, Elway and Co. wouldn't be concerned about Bailey's $10 million paycheck and its impact on younger acquisitions.
If this game weren't a business, Bailey would retire, go out a hero, and finish his career as a Denver Bronco.
If this game weren't a business, fans could rally to keep Champ on the roster because he's a leader, a teacher, a great teammate and a fan favorite.
But it is a business. And it still sucks.
For all of us.