By Jason Keidel
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Whether it’s inherent, inherited or otherwise inevitable, it seems that football players who play on the fringe of the field are on the fringe off the gridiron. Stevie Johnson, Chad Ocho-Johnson, Deion Sanders, Andre Rison, Richard Sherman, etc., are wildly-gifted athletes whose tongues and toes are equally nimble, with mixed results.
And Darrelle Revis is slowly joining his colleagues outside the hash marks who make copious noise after the whistle, with his contract and Twitter squabbles making the back pages this week. That’s not a good sign, as Revis would rather be regarded and remembered alongside Mel Blount and Lester Hayes than Terrell Owens and Sherman. And while being prolix and productive are not mutually exclusive, we’d like at least a modicum of modesty from our stars.
It took LeBron James two years to heal from the harpoon he took after the glittering and galling “Decision” to take his talents to South Beach. (Some even wondered if his ego required the same Mayflower truck that hauled the Jim Irsay tribe from Baltimore to Indiana.) King James paid a steep, karmic tax against Dallas, and was branded a self-obsessed choke artist before his redemption against Kevin Durant.
Even the greatest showman of all, Muhammad Ali, admittedly borrowed his ringside patois from wrestler Gorgeous George. And beyond the obvious entertainment we got from Ali, it actually served a tactical purpose. By the time he stepped in the ring with Sonny Liston, Ali had the former champion thinking Ali was schizophrenic. It also served him against George Foreman and Joe Frazier, among countless pugilists.
But out of all the mouthy NFL stars, how many of them have Super Bowl rings? Not enough to warrant all the words.
What Revis needs to realize is that even his most ardent devotees will only go so far with him while he tries to cash in on what’s surely his final big contract. Sure, 27 sounds young. But the cornerback nonpareil will be 28 by September, and he is recovering from serious knee surgery. (Even if Adrian Peterson made a mockery of the recovery process and Robert Griffin III is also flouting the laws of logic and biology, we can’t always assume similar outcomes.)
It feels like we now hear way too much from Revis and don’t see nearly enough. As soon as the ink cakes on his contract, he’s pining for a new one. Revis has every right to ask for money, to demand market value, but his comments and persona are increasingly self-centered. You’ve heard of star players remolding their contracts in order to clear cap space so their team can snag another star. Can you see Revis doing that?
Now Revis is engaged in a cyber spat with Sherman, yet another loquacious cornerback who slighted Revis with a tweet. Twitter, the ultimate WMD for the ADD-addled, illiterate masses who think history was written in 140 characters, is an IV drip for those who express thoughts in emoticons. I heard someone say that Revis lost the online sparring session the moment he participated. Agreed. Revis should be above petty banter with a younger player trying to reach Revis’ level.
In the interest of candor, I recently wrote that trading Revis would be a disaster, that shipping your best player to start a new regime is not the Dale Cargnegie blueprint to charming your fan base. Not to mention you’re trading him at his professional nadir, when you’ll get the least in return. But the more we hear from Revis the less we want to hear from Revis. He should take a tuning fork to his knee, not his need to be celebrated.
Just a few years ago, Revis entered the league a humble, little-known defensive back from Pittsburgh. He played college ball close to his hometown, the slums and abandoned steel mills of Aliquippa — a breeding ground for NFL stars and a bear trap for the weak. Aliquippa spawned Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett and Revis, while also killing many more athletes through the three-pronged beast of poverty, crime and drugs. Revis would be well-served to remember where he came from more than where he thinks he should be, to recall the hunger and hard-hat ethic that made him a great football player.
One of the beauties of football, where on-field narcissism is suppressed by pads, helmets, flags and facemasks, is the ancient axiom that no player is above the team.
Revis is quickly forgetting.
Are you starting to tire of Revis, Jets fans, or do you love his talking and tweeting? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…