Commentary

Time for Jets to show Revis the money

He's right to ask for his due while he can; now Gang needs to give him the green

Updated: June 11, 2010, 6:13 PM ET
By Ian O'Connor | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Darrelle Revis has every right to ask the Jets for every last penny they might give him. He knows professional football is a blood sport, one that discards its injured and aging talent with the greatest of ease.

He knows the typical NFL owner often breaks his players' hearts, and that it's fair game to try to break his bank first.

"Look at the Leon situation," Revis said in a quiet moment after his Thursday news conference.

Yes, the Leon situation. Leon Washington, a do-everything Jet one minute, an expendable one-legged mess bound for Seattle the next.

[+] EnlargeDarrelle Revis
Robert Benson/US PresswireDarrelle Revis' prospects are looking up -- and deservedly so.

"They were working on his contract, and he broke his leg and missed the season, and now he has no stability, no comfort zone, no anything," Revis told ESPNNewYork.com. "And Thomas Jones, the same thing."

You remember Thomas Jones, right? Gave the Jets a career-high 1,402 yards and a pro's-pro approach eight days a week, and how did his beloved franchise reward him?

By offering him the choice of a pay cut or a pink slip, an early-bird, pick-your-poison special. Jones chose the pink slip and crash-landed in Kansas City.

These are the cruel terms of NFL engagement. There are no Oliver Perezes in pro football, big-money busts who linger and linger on the margins of guaranteed deals.

NFL owners and general managers and coaches chew up players and spit them out at the first sign of decline, then cry about the injustice of it all when a young and healthy star wants to get his before he becomes the next Leon Washington or Thomas Jones.

Darrelle Revis has earned his score, and then some. He's the Derek Jeter of the Jets, the ideal blend of talent, class, dignity, charisma, good looks, you name it.

"And the thing I'm so frustrated by," Revis told ESPNNewYork.com about his employers, "is they sit here and tell me this to my face. But then they don't want to value me or honor me for that.

"They say, 'Oh, you're a class act, you don't cause any trouble off the field, you're this, you're that, you come in on time.' This is me, and if you say you want me here for a long time, I will keep on bringing that to this team each year. When new guys come in, they're going to understand how to do it the right way, not the wrong way."

Kyle Wilson, a first-rounder out of Boise State, already has the perfect mentor in Revis, who spent part of Thursday's OTA workout showing the kid where to go and what to do. So Revis wants to get paid for his leadership, and for his ability to cut Tom Brady's game plan in half.

The cornerback is due to make $1 million this year, or less than some heavyweight media members who will cover him. Revis does stand to earn $20 million over the following two seasons, but the Raiders are paying Nnamdi Asomugha $16.5 million for 2010 alone.

Revis is better than Asomugha. In fact, Revis is better than almost every player in the NFL.

"A lot of teams don't even throw to my side," he said. "So I had six picks last year. I might have four this year just because teams don't throw my way. I cut the field in half, so I don't understand where [the Jets] are not understanding that aspect of it."

Yes, Woody Johnson and Mike Tannenbaum need to pay up. They need to listen to their head coach, Rex Ryan, who deserves a 10 percent commission when the new contract is signed.

Ryan's latest guarantee says Revis is "going to be a Jet forever." The coach declared the cornerback could surpass Joe Willie Namath as the greatest Jet of all time, and marveled over the fact that a receiver (Jerricho Cotchery) actually caught a pass at Revis' expense in Thursday's practice.

Ryan failed to note another development from that practice: Revis collided with Bart Scott on one pass play and went down in a heap.

"I could've broken an ankle or tore a knee up, and my career would've been over," Revis said. "But this is a time right here where you've got to think about your career and your family, and you've got to fight. You've got to fight and that's what I'm doing, and not in a hateful way."

Revis wants to beat Asomugha's paycheck, and why not? Ryan's own testimony is the best available evidence for the plaintiff.

But so is the NFL's long and not-so-rich history of draining every last drop of blood, sweat and tears out of its athletes before firing them and moving on to the next batch.

"It's the only sport where there's a 100 percent injury rate," Ryan conceded.

Even the golden boys are tossed out with the next morning's trash. On a spring day in 1994, Phil Simms thought he was being called into Dan Reeves' office to sign some footballs for charity.

Reeves terminated him instead.

Way back when, Ryan made a big deal out of his reliable running back, Jones, becoming "one of my guys." But suddenly Jones wasn't one of the coach's guys when the Jets wanted to save a few bucks and get more touches for the younger Shonn Greene.

Revis pledged to attend next week's minicamp, but made no promises about training camp or beyond. Good for him. Good for the players who have a chance to punch back at an NFL system designed to make contract negotiations a one-way street.

"I have to protect myself," Revis said. "I don't feel like I'm doing anything wrong."

For good reason: He's not.

Ian O'Connor is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Ian O'Connor

ESPNNewYork.com columnist
Ian O'Connor has won numerous national awards as a sports columnist and is the author of three books, including the bestseller, "The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter." ESPN Radio broadcasts "The Ian O'Connor Show" every Sunday from 7 to 9 a.m. ET. Follow Ian on Twitter »

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