Last season, Rex Ryan went out on a limb for Darrelle Revis.
How does the Jets' star cornerback repay his coach and his franchise? By making plans to hold out this season.
Training camp begins on Aug. 1, and according to the New York Daily News, every day that goes by in which Revis does not receive a new contract means a bigger chance that he'll be MIA three weeks from now.
Holding out, to say the least, has become a problem in the NFL. It gives players the opportunity to act like stubborn children when they don't get their way. What about the contract Revis is already tied to? What about the piece of paper he already signed in which he agreed to show up to work as long as he got paid?
After being drafted in 2007, Revis signed a six-year, $30 million contract with the Jets. He came into his own during the 2009 season, registering 54 tackles, six picks and 31 passes defensed en route to his first All-Pro selection and his second Pro Bowl. Yes, after becoming arguably the best defensive back in the league, he probably deserves more than $5 million per year. A lot more.
And Revis will get his due at some point. If he doesn't get it from the Jets — which, in all likelihood, he will, sooner or later — he'll get it from some other desperate team willing to overpay for his services.
But holding out of training camp and undeniably putting yourself above the good of the team hardly seems like the best way to go.
Revis isn't the first to do this. Plenty of players hold out every year, to the point where it's almost become the norm. Richard Seymour did in 2005, when he was still a member of the Patriots. Asante Samuel did it two years later. Brandon Marshall did it last summer. Sometimes it works; in Revis' case, it probably will. The revamped Jets won't risk losing their star cornerback, and Revis knows he has leverage. He's a player whose odds of getting his way in this situation are high.
But even if he signs before Aug. 1, the holdout always taints the fans' view of the player.
In Foxboro, it happened with both Seymour and Samuel. Once a popular, talented, fan-favorite player essentially admits that getting paid is more important than showing up to practice, being a part of the team and setting an example, fans can't look at him the same way. In 2007, Samuel was coming off an unbelievable season in which he led the league with 10 interceptions and solidified himself as a premier corner in the NFL. Fans adored him.
But as the Patriots turned their focus to retooling for a Super Bowl run that offseason, Samuel showed he was far more concerned with the Asante Show.
Fans always want to believe a player's desire to win far exceeds their own. Fans want to believe a player will put the team above himself, above his own agenda. Fans, more than anything, want to believe that their favorite players are heroes — heroes who don't skip practice because they want more money.
Darrelle Revis deserves to get paid. He's a great player, and eventually he'll get what he deserves. And hopefully, when he steps on the field in 2010, his fans will still feel the same way about him as they did last season.