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Why Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets is a Champion of Virtue


First, some nuts and bolts:

Darrelle Revis is a cornerback for the New York Jets. But not just any cornerback. Revis is, by most standards, the best cornerback in the NFL. He guards the opposing team’s best receivers and, more often than not, shuts them down. He’s the best at what he does.

Revis, 25, is currently holding out on his contract, meaning that he is not participating in training camp until the New York Jets give him more money. He is currently getting paid about $5 million a year, which is a very large amount and more than you or I can realistically hope to ever get paid. If the Jets do not give him a new contract, he is threatening to sit out the season.

Second, none of this will have anything to do with the LSAT, and I will be making no attempt to even provide a tangential relation aside from mentioning the LSAT for a second time in this sentence.

A coworker and I were recently arguing about the Revis situation. His point is that, regardless of any extenuating circumstances, Revis signed a contract and should be held accountable for the terms of the contract which he signed (i.e. getting his ass on the field). And that if Revis doesn’t fulfill the terms of the contract, the ownership of the Jets can and should sue him. It’s a fair point; a contract is a contract, and if Revis thought it was unfair at the beginning of the contract, he should have not signed it, right?

My issue, of course, is that it’s the damn NFL. Paying a star cornerback is not like paying a plumber. Revis is the best player at his position in the NFL, and if he isn’t on the field and isn’t getting paid, it arguably hurts the Jets more than it hurts Revis. Revis has the leverage in this situation and will not be sued.

Should he be sued? I say no. If an NFL team sues a player for holding out, then I would almost guarantee some kind of player strike within a year. The NFL contract system is heavily weighted toward the owners. Contracts are not guaranteed on the owner’s end, so if player A gets injured, player A can get a firm, but loving, kick in the ass, no matter how many years he has left on his contract.

Should he be paid more money? I say yes. In the NFL, you’re really about a play away from a coma. As guys get more and more juiced, and become as fast and strong as modern chemistry allows, it becomes a much more unsafe environment. Revis could be snapped in half this season. His contract was signed when the Jets did not know how good he was going to be. He’s now the best in the league at what he does, and is getting paid like he’s mediocre. Because of the odd circumstance that is the NFL, in that severe injury is highly possible and could prevent you from fulfilling your contract, restructuring should be a natural custom when talent outperforms, by a wide margin, the terms of the contract.

Who has thoughts on this? I don’t see any easy solution to the larger issue (which is the fact that people get injured often in the NFL). Owners don’t want to guarantee money to people who might be crippled in a few years, which I understand. Players don’t want to play for less than their market worth because they might be crippled in a few years, which I also understand. What do you do? One year contracts and constant negotiation? That kills team continuity and would basically lead to much more unwatchable play. Chime in if you have a point.

Anyway, prediction: Revis will be back by week 3, with a new, $12 million a year contract. Book it.