clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How did Malki Kawa influence Shaquille Leonard and the Colts’ decision to part ways with him?

Exploring the Impact of Agent Malki Kawa and the Unraveling of a Colts Icon - How Shaquille Leonard’s Exit Marks an Era’s End in Indianapolis.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

2023 has been an odd year for the Indianapolis Colts.

  • The best offensive player on the roster, Jonathan Taylor, had a very public and messy standoff with the Colts, especially team owner Jim Irsay, about his desire to play for the Colts without a contract extension or at all.
  • His attitude on the sidelines at training camp and publicly was a shocking change from his demeanor at every other time in his young career.
  • Shaquille Leonard has had a drawn-out recovery from multiple injuries and surgeries, hoping to return to making the kind of impact that earned him the nickname “Maniac.”
  • Despite being paid handsomely by the Colts, Leonard turned on his coaching staff and front office by sharing his frustrations about a lack of playing time. He did so on the sidelines during games, visibly upset, and in interviews with the media.
  • As with Taylor, it is a huge departure from the kind of person and player Leonard has been during his career.

While it’s impossible to know how agent Malki Kawa has influenced these changes, it’s equally impossible to ignore that he is a common denominator.

It isn’t difficult for even a casual fan to see that Leonard hasn’t had the same on-field impact as he did prior to his injuries and surgeries. His signature speed has been lacking, he has missed tackles that were routine for him and, at times, has appeared to avoid contact altogether. Bluntly, he has more often been a defensive liability than he has made a positive impact.

Is it possible that Leonard cannot recognize this when he reviews game film every week with his coaches? It’s hard to imagine that a player with his experience cannot see what is right in front of him.

If he can’t objectively see how his play has regressed or identify where he needs to continue working on getting back to health or back into game shape, it’s hard to justify keeping him around.

If he does see it but has chosen to act out anyway, what choice has he left the Colts? Also, why? The franchise chose him earlier than some talking heads thought they should have, played him and put him in positions to become an All-Pro, and then paid him like an All-Pro. If it’s loyalty and respect he has been yearning for throughout his life and playing career, he was showered with both in Indianapolis, by the owner, front office, coaching staff, his teammates, the fans, and the Indianapolis community.

This is a really tough time to be a Colts fan. I have all the respect in the world for Shaquille Leonard. He has been a great man off of the field, a great player on it, and largely a great teammate. Injuries are tragic and I wish Leonard the very best as he continues to battle his way back to form. I hope he gets there, even if it is in another jersey. I wish him and his family well and hope that he will one day return to Indianapolis so fans can once again shower him with the love and appreciation he deserves.

If NFL players are paying attention at all, they’ll stay far away from Kawa and his agency. There’s no question that players have every right to fight for their long-term financial security and that the NFL needs to continue evolving as it finds ways to support players. There is also no question that one of the things all players will acknowledge is the fans fuel some of the passion by knowing they are behind them. Kawa’s influence is killing that relationship, and that’s too bad.