Originally created 05/11/02

Anderson knows days with Falcons numbered



ATLANTA - Falcons running back Jamal Anderson, third on the Atlanta franchise's all-time rushing list, understands the business side of his imminent departure from the team.

That doesn't make him feel better about it.

"I feel like I've been misled," Anderson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I'm going to be cut. It's a foregone conclusion."

Anderson, who helped lead the Falcons to the Super Bowl after the 1998 season, said new team owner Arthur Blank and coach Dan Reeves led him to believe they wanted him to return from his second major knee surgery in three years.

That was before Atlanta used its first-round draft choice last month on running back T.J. Duckett, just a few weeks after signing free-agent running back Warrick Dunn. Those moves all but guaranteed Anderson would be released after June 1, when the Falcons can realize greater salary cap savings.

Anderson said he met with Blank and Reeves a few days after the draft and told them how he felt. He said Blank told him, "We haven't misled you at all. When I bought the team, we talked about you (getting a chance to come back.) Things change as you go on."

Reeves had indicated that the plan going into the draft was not to select a running back, but he said later that Duckett was too good to pass up.

"It's a weird feeling because sometimes I think they knew what they were going to do, but then again, they couldn't have known," Anderson said in the interview, which appeared in Friday's Journal-Constitution.

"There's one side of me that's not very happy about it, and another side of me that says, 'Well, you did blow out both knees.' Being a businessman, I understand the business side of it," he said.

Anderson has rushed for 5,336 yards with the Falcons. He set the franchise single-season record of 1,846 yards and an NFL single-season record with 410 carries in 1998.

He said he told Blank and Reeves: "You'll never replace me. You can't get somebody who'll give you everything I gave you: the leadership, the voice, the ability to represent the team, the attitude, what I did on the field."

Anderson said he would like it if Reeves threw the running-back position open for competition, but, "I'm smart enough to know that you can't have all that money in the backfield."

"I need to be somewhere where I can compete to be a starter," he said. "I think teams around the league know me, what I'm about. There are not a lot of plum RB situations.

"I am wide open to any possibility," Anderson said. "But will I love to play the Falcons? Oh, brother."