By Jason Keidel
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It triggers your gag reflex to brand a man a bargain when he signs a three-year, $27 million contract extension to play a game for a living.
And it makes more than Jets fans reach for the Rolaids when our compass clicks east, to New England as exemplars of anything decent. Some of us don’t even consider Massachusetts a member of the republic, and would root for Cuba against the Red Sox.
But unless you’re just a hater, blinded by endless bias, and view the world through the provincial prism of the home team, you must appreciate Tom Brady. The aforementioned years and yen are bargains for a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer who’s pretty much in his prime. It speaks to selfless mien from a mean competitor who somehow stayed hungry and hard-wired to winning after all the rings, money, fame, and other glittering debris of celebrity. Brady stands in stark contrast with Darrelle Revis, who is demanding more money for the nth time, and has so vexed his bosses that the Jets are ardently shopping him, according to Gary Myers of the New York Daily News.
It italicizes the bare, bleak contrast between the faces of each franchise. Brady quietly signs an extension for half his worth while Revis moans the moment the ink cakes on every contract he signs. Then for good measure he plunges into a pointless, childish spat with Richard Sherman, the loquacious cornerback for Seattle, who hasn’t met a microphone he doesn’t make love to. Revis is royalty, and is supposed to comport himself accordingly, and with Brady’s understated, team-first refrain. Making the contrast even more vivid, Brady refused to chat about his new deal with local radio station WEEI because he doesn’t want to shift the focus from team goals.
Sure, Brady has made more money than anyone (other than Mike Tyson and Allen Iverson) can spend and squeezed more guaranteed money out of his old contract, while Revis is trying to seal the best deal of his career. But there are ways of making your point without pointing to yourself every ten minutes. And though Brady has a clear, vain swath across his persona – bedding and wedding movie stars and swimsuit models, cashing in on endless endorsements, and becoming a glossy cover boy all over your local magazine rack – no one can question his monolithic approach to football. If you look at the Patriots other than Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and, to a lesser extent, the double-fisted party fiend called “Gronk” who thinks mosh pits were prescribed by doctors to heal his broken forearm, Brady has carried an amalgam of marginal players to five Super Bowls. Other than the first team that beat the Rams with defense and clutch kicking, Brady has been LeBron with the Cavaliers.
Bill Belichick, the supposed savant of defense, plucks defensive players every draft and bombs almost every time. But the one constant is Brady, whose arrival in New England was way more happenstance than corporate stance. To snag a player of his heft in the sixth round is a once-a-century move, arbitrary and blessed by the odd whims of the football gods. Bill Walsh had Brady in his backyard, idolizing Joe Montana from nearby San Mateo. Yet the progenitor of the west coast offense selected the iconic Giovanni Carmazzi, who quickly vanished to become a goat farmer.
Even all these years and awards and rings later, Brady plays with grace of a legend and the grit of a Pop Warner or practice squad player. And rather than take one more monetary bow before he bows from the game he loves, he let prudence trump pride, allowing other players to dip into his wallet, literally spreading the wealth. Who knows? Maybe Revis will join Brady thanks to that selfless, singular move designed for that very kind of scenario. Imagine Revis signing a contract at anything less than his self-righteous standards.
There are endless reasons why a team wins a particular game. Even the latest Super Bowl, a lopsided affair in the first half, was a coin-flip in the fourth quarter. It takes almost as much luck as skill, guessing as much as guile, and patience over petulance. But the difference between the Jets and Pats is profound, and obvious.
Is it a coincidence that Robert Kraft has crafted an empire while Woody “I can’t get enough Tim Tebow” Johnson’s franchise has floundered for decades? You can’t be as good as New England since 2000 by happenstance. It’s a corporate stance. The Jets need to change theirs.
Does it start with removing Darrelle Revis?
Well … does it? Make your case in the comments section…