03 August 2010
|"Thank youuuuuuuuu, Rex!!!!!!!!!!!!"|
Rex Ryan was a mess Monday morning. He knew what he had done. It wasn't the owner's fault, nor was it the general manager's fault. It wasn't even the player's fault. It was his fault it.
"Darrelle is a great," Rex angrily started. His front two teeth pursed his bottom lip, the "f" sound became audible. But then Rex collected himself, paused, and finished his thought. "Darrelle is a great player."
In that uncharacteristic moment where Rex's trademark emotion nearly worked against him and in turn his wallet, you saw the head coach's guilt. You saw him all but acknowledge that he was the impetus behind Darrelle Revis' lockout.
As the Jets made their unlikely march to the postseason last December, Rex, like an overzealous sports parent, openly gushed about his prized possession, his wonder child, Darrelle Revis. He said Revis was the best defensive player in football, the key to his suffocating defense, and defied critics to find a flaw in the all-world cornerback's game.
Unlike when you praise a child for a great performance and can later appease his inflated ego with an ice cream cone, a professional athlete is only satisfied with one reward: Money. Rex forgot that eternal rule. He was living in the moment, basking in the glory of a memorable run to the AFC Championship Game. He was so proud of the team and defense he created that he couldn't help but extol the virtues of the player who was the main cog in his well-oiled machine. When Rex praised Revis he was thinking about next week versus Cincy, or San Diego, or Indy, not about Darrelle's agent vs. Mike Tannenbaum next August.
Darrelle's main demand during this contract squabble has been that he wants to be paid more than the Raiders' Nnamdi Asomugha, the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL. He says, "If I'm the best cornerback in the league like y'all say I am, why am I not paid like it?" Yes, y'all is a synonym for Rex. Before the Jets head coach went on his Revis for Defensive Player of the Year crusade, few football fans outside the AFC East totally understood Revis' effect on a game. But once Rex saw he could use his pulpit to promote Revis' historically great season, all hell broke loose. My No. 24, white, Revis jersey went from receiving comments like, "Oh, that's a cool one. I don't see too many of those," to, "Dude, Revis? Really? Give me a facking break."
Have you ever inflated a football so forcefully that a large air bubble forms near the laces? Of course you have. And the worst part is there's no way to fix it. All you can do is play with the ball and hope it deflates. Unfortunately, that is the predicament the Jets face. Rex Ryan pumped Darrelle Revis' ego so high that there is no way to deflate it. (The Jets would have already given him an extension if they really wanted to.) All they can do now is train, practice, and play the preseason games. If they're lucky, Revis' ego will naturally shrink and he will play for the $1 million his contract pays him. If it stays as sky high as his salary demands, the Jets will be paying for Ryan's comments in a way they never imagined---with losses.