By Jeff Capellini, WFAN.com
NEW YORK (WFAN) — Raise your hand if you are just a little sick of Darrelle Revis.
Not the player, obviously. I’m referring to the guy who has two years remaining on a four-year contract that’s already paid him $32.5 million lobbing veiled threats of another training camp holdout at the Jets should he not get more of this, that or the other thing.
Revis couldn’t help himself on Monday. During a charity function he was asked about his contract, because usually when he has less years left than time already served he begins to get antsy and reporters know it. And for whatever reason, Revis just hates hearing someone in authority utter the phrase “Darrelle’s under contract,” something General Manager Mike Tannenbaum said recently when asked about a sensitive issue that has the potential for the type of camp drama only the Jets can create.
“I just don’t know,” Revis told reporters at a Big Brothers Big Sisters event in Manhattan. “I’m not saying I am going to hold out, I’m not saying I’m not going to hold out. Right now my focus is just being on the team. … I’m getting ready for the 2012-13 season. That’s all I can do.”
Translation? Get ready for heartburn.
Tannenbaum has to be guzzling bottles of Maalox right now, because no matter how much people want to say Revis didn’t actually say he was going to hold out, history suggests if this man doesn’t once again respected in the manner he deems respectable he will in fact be a no-show come July up in Cortland.
Count on it.
My problem isn’t necessarily with Revis wanting to be compensated on a massive scale. Regardless of the fact that he’s never been named Defensive Player of the Year, it is difficult to view him as just one of the NFL’s best defensive backs. He’s clearly a lot more than that and obviously the true face of the Jets, regardless of how much the team has tried to push Mark Sanchez as its poster boy.
As we know, NFL contracts are not fully guaranteed, so for Revis to want untold millions on top of the known millions he already receives, considering his accomplishments and reputation, is his prerogative and hard to argue. This is America, after all, and any man is entitled to seek that which he thinks he’s worth, especially, as we’ve seen time and again, in the world of professional sports.
My problem is Revis’ method to trying to attain his financial madness. Back in 2010 he held out for 36 days, a protracted drama captured in all of its horror by the cameramen of HBO on “Hard Knocks.” The only question, even if reporters got tired or wary of asking it, on a daily basis was about Revis. Would the deal get done? Would this game of chicken result in the all-everything corner possibly missing games?
The answer, as it turned out, was both sides blinked and Revis got $46 million, with $32 million guaranteed. The Jets caved by giving in to a mercenary’s demands, mostly because they absolutely needed the mercenary’s services at the time. Revis also “settled,” because for a long time now he’s seemingly viewed himself as a top defensive player in this league, not just the No. 1 or 1A corner. And even after he signed on the dotted line we all knew that the potential for another go-around on the contract front would loom down the road.
And here we are, again, regardless if Revis hasn’t made his intentions crystal clear.
“Right now, what I’m trying to do is just be a part of this team, work hard, and that’s all I can say,” said Revis, who will reportedly earn $4.5 million in base salary in 2012. “My agent’s going to do the best for me and try to do what’s best for me. It’s my career, and I’m in control of what I can do. I know I’m under contract, and we’ll hash that out when the time comes.”
I just wonder if Revis cares about public perception. Two years ago, the fan base was almost entirely in his corner, myself included. We all understood that the Jets weren’t going to go anywhere without their best player, mostly because we actually feared him missing the first few weeks of the regular season. And the case may be the same this time around, should he disappear for a while and both sides get even nastier than they were during the first go-around.
Should Revis hold out, who’s to say he won’t actually stay true to his word and stay away for as long as it takes to get what he wants? He’s getting older and knows the paydays will eventually start to run out. When he was 24 he had time to play nice. Now that he’s approaching 27, not even the prime years of his career but pretty damn close, he may not be as willing to relent. After all, he’s just a few years away from people beginning to wonder if he’s lost a step.
But back to public perception. Revis knew during the 2010 holdout that Jets fans by and large would make their voices heard to management. “Pay the man!” became the familiar refrain. But this time, if there is indeed a this time, I’ve already heard the unfathomable. “Trade the man!” some have said, a notion that would be highly unlikely should he hold out, but one that is beginning to show that the fans, while clearly still in love with the guy, may not be willing to put up with what can be perceived as a supposed team guy completely cutting the cords of that which made the previous training camp vacation tolerable.
If Revis is both serious about being compensated in a manner that would keep him a Jet for life, even though he’s never really said the latter is something that must happen, it would seem to me and many others that he would have been better off working on getting a deal done behind closed doors, like many of the sports greats have done in the past. I don’t think the public pressure on Tannenbaum will be as great should the Jets and their star butt heads. I think, ultimately, the Jets could at least consider the highly prohibitive risks associated with moving this guy, something that was a complete non-starter last time.
Revis had no problem speaking his mind when asked after the disastrous 2011 season about what went wrong. He was almost entirely fair in his assessment of Rex Ryan losing the locker room. He was posed with a difficult situation and handled it cautiously, being careful to not do what some of his unnamed teammates did before him.
Revis spoke of how the Jets needed to turn the page, make some changes during the offseason and then get together in players-only meetings during OTAs and hash out the problems of the past so they don’t become problems of the future.
“Let’s not get into the bickering or the frustrations, because it brings a team down. We failed. We failed,” Revis said at the time.
Well, bickering and frustration over a contract, even if it’s only in its early stages this time around, also brings a team down, Darrelle, especially when it involves the franchise’s true bright and shining star.
Revis, himself, both criticized and touted the acquisition of Tim Tebow, saying the atosphere is “going to be more of a circus with him in the locker room,” and then adding in the next breath, “I’m not questioning his ability to play the game. He can flat-out play the game. But it is just going to bring more to the locker room every day.”
And nobody, anywhere, is questioning Revis’ ability to play the game or his desire to be paid as such. But if you think the Jets’ locker room won’t be as big, if not a bigger, circus without him in the fold, well, you haven’t been paying attention to how things work between the Jets and the media, a relationship that has seemed to sour even more of late.
It just seems, as far as Darrelle Revis is concerned, the team’s best interest only comes into play when it involves anyone but Darrelle Revis.
And that’s a pretty irresponsible position to take, considering all he seems to know about how things work on this team and in this city. There are just ways to handle certain things, and Revis likes to wax poetic that he knows what they are and how to handle them.
But those same rules don’t seem to apply when it’s about him getting his.
Read more columns by Jeff Capellini and follow him on Twitter at @GreenLanternJet
If Revis does hold out, what do you think the Jets should do? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below. …