Shaquille Leonard hurt by surprising release from Colts

Former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard cleared waivers Wednesday after his surprising release from the team, and he spoke to reporters on the day the news broke.

Despite being released on his day off, Leonard still hosted his annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway on Tuesday, helping out 200 families in the community he called home since 2018.

The media to the turkey giveaway arrived with plenty of questions, wondering how Leonard felt about the surprising transaction.

“I’m hurt,” Leonard said Tuesday via IndyStar, “but my feelings don’t win football games.”

It was no surprise that Leonard and the Colts coaching staff disagreed on his role. Leonard hasn’t been moving the same way since he had multiple surgeries on a nerve in his back that was causing pain in his ankle.

The Colts didn’t trust him on third downs and his role as the WILL in Gus Bradley’s defense didn’t allow him to roam free and use his instincts as he did in Matt Eberflus’ scheme.

Leonard understood, to a degree, the reduced role as he was coming off an injury-marred 2022 season. But he still felt he was pushed out the door, which was surprising considering the fact that he was a team captain.

“I don’t like how I was thrown out the door. I gave this organization everything I had, even when I didn’t even have it. I gave them everything,” Leonard said.

Leonard’s early career trajectory had him on a path to the Hall of Fame. He was a three-time All-Pro First Team selection through his first four seasons and was breaking records right and left.

However, the injury and subsequent surgeries took a toll, and it was evident he wasn’t moving as the same player that everyone dubbed The Maniac.

Even though Leonard had voiced his displeasure with his reduced role, he told reporters Tuesday that he made it known he would be willing to take a back seat if others in the room were outplaying him.

“I told them a month ago: Yes, I want to play. There’s no question I want to play,” Leonard said. “But I always told them that if E.J. (Speed) is playing better than me, then I have no problem with E.J. being the starter. I told them that. I honestly thought that if I wasn’t going to play, I was going to be the backup.”

The Colts told him Monday he was going to be benched this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then turned around on Tuesday informing him of his release.

There will be interest from the league now that Leonard’s contract won’t be an issue for his new team, and it will be interesting to see how this decision will look down the road.

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire