Three days in and all of the focus has been on what, or how much, the New York Jets should give training-camp holdout Darrelle Revis. Both sides are talking money, money, money. Guaranteed this, disappointed that.
No one, it seems, is asking what Revis, the team’s best defensive player, a shutdown cornerback critical to Coach Rex Ryan’s attack-minded approach, should give owner Woody Johnson in return for his largess. And, no, his Sunday afternoon best isn’t enough. Here’s why:
Revis, 25, is scheduled to be paid $1 million this season, the fourth of a six-year rookie contract that, according to the NFL Network, is worth $36 million. Not enough, Revis says. Not for the man known as “Revis Island,” a nickname nod to one guy’s ability to blanket the opponent’s best receiver without assistance from teammates.
The Jets, trumpeting a Super Bowl or bust motto, can do what they do -- blitz, blitz, blitz -- because Revis does what he does.
“We know how good a player Darrelle is,” Johnson said.
Based on self-evaluation, Revis has made it known that he expects to become the highest-paid cornerback in the National Football League. That was a mistake.
By making such a pay-scale proclamation Revis all but invites a comparison with the person who now occupies the top spot. That would be Nnamdi Asomugha (pronounce awe-some-WAH), whose skills add value to his team, the Oakland Raiders, and his community, simply can’t be limited to what occurs on the football field.
First, the football.
As good as Revis is, Asomugha might be better.
Word is that Asomugha, 29, is the best cornerback in the NFL. Coaches and players can’t say for sure simply because so few quarterbacks risk throwing in his direction. That explains why Asomugha had just four passes defended last season. Revis had 31.
So, from a football perspective, we’ll call it a draw.
But interceptions, tackles and deflections don’t tell the complete story of Asomugha, who -- ask anyone that has worked with him, from Bill Clinton to Natalie Portman -- is a far better person than player.
No knock on Revis. But there’s no comparison.
A franchise player should do more, much more, than play really well. He should be the face. The heart. The example.
He knows he’s lucky. He knows fortune and fame, any measure of it, are a gift. He knows people need help. He knows kids need hope. So he gives it to them. And then he gives some more.
Maybe that’s why Asomugha was the only athlete invited to last year’s Clinton Global Initiative, where smart people get together to talk about helping people and solving problems.
Asomugha in June was among the 15 recipients of this year’s Jefferson Awards, which are often referred to as the Nobel Prize for public service. Before that Asomugha was honored with the Byron “Whizzer” White Award, the NFL Players Association’s highest honor, named after the late Supreme Court justice and college football hall of famer.
Every year Asomugha pays for a group of underprivileged kids to visit New York, where educational institutions like New York University, the New School and Juilliard fill the itinerary.
During last year’s trip Asomugha had Portman, an actress and friend, speak to the kids about how to handle rejection. Among those listening and learning was Taylor Brandon, a teenage girl from Oakland, California, who considered Juilliard a pipedream until she was standing there, looking up, down and all around.
“My standing there made it achievable,” Brandon told me.
Asomugha made it achievable.
Maybe Revis can cut down on the time he devotes to bowling or billiards, both of which he enjoys. Maybe he can give up video games -- he prefers “FIFA” and “NBA2K” -- in order to make time for underprivileged kids. Revis likes music, too. Since he’s close by maybe he’d like to organize, chaperone and pay for a few trips to Juilliard, where Asomugha taught one young woman that impossible becomes achievable. Who knows what that one young woman’s legacy will be?
Revis soon will be rich. Make that richer. Highest-paid, second-highest-paid, whatever. Enough, already, with what he’ll get. Since Revis invited a comparison to Asomugha, let’s remember to ask him what it is he intends to give when he isn’t making life miserable for some wide receiver.
(Scott Soshnick is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)
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