Give NFL owners credit for not renegotiating deals
Posted: Tuesday July 26, 2005 12:25PM; Updated: Tuesday July 26, 2005 2:53PM
The Bucs set a precedent when they cut ties with Keyshawn Johnson in 2003.
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"I'm a holdout" = "I'm a jerk"
Two years ago, shortly before the playoffs began, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did something that caught us all off guard. They deactivated, and later traded, wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson. Apparently the Glazer brothers had had enough of what New Yorkers were well aware of four years earlier: Keyshawn wants the damn ball. After averaging 76 catches a year with the Jets, the former first-round stud complained his way out of the biggest market in football and into the lap of the Bucs. "Meyshawn" averaged two fewer catches a season in the same amount of time with his new club. Now with the Dallas Cowboys, Keyshawn has quick slanted his way from probable Hall of Famer to reliable possession receiver.
The release of Keyshawn seamed to get the ball rolling for the shifting of power from athletes to GMs and owners in the constant battle for leverage. With a single pink slip, the Buccaneers may have fortunately ushered in the era of "Don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya" when it comes to spoiled athletes.
If we fast forward to this current off season, Keyshawn by comparison to his fellow wideouts looks almost altruistic. Everyone this side of China is well aware that Terrell Owens is the greatest wide receiver today. But apparently when it comes to renegotiating his contract, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie has two words for T.O.: Big Deal.
Owens did not attend voluntary workouts earlier this year after Lurie told anyone who would listen that Terrell was most certainly not going to receive one red cent more than his current contract dictated.
Mr. Lurie, I think I speak on behalf of every football fan not living in Philadelphia when I say "Thank you."
I apologize to Mr. Owens. I realize how hard it must be to live on $49 million. Ol' Terrell must have been having an off day when he thought $49 million for seven years was a fair and profitable deal. Unfortunately, there are no mulligans when it comes to pro football contracts. If there were, Green Bay receiver Javon Walker would be re-teeing his ball as we speak. The Packers are telling Walker not to check his mailbox for more money anytime soon. The 27-year-old Walker is currently earning $500,000 to play 16 football games. Alas, Javon needs more dough, so he also, is a no-show. There is little doubt that both receivers will eventually return to their teams and contribute. But is so much needless public posturing worth the respect and goodwill they lose with football fans everywhere? I say no.
After watching Owens at the Super Bowl last year I became a huge fan. Now, after his holdout, I just think he's a jerk. I never had much of an opinion of Walker at all, but now, he, too, is a jerk.
I have an idea I would like to extend to Terrell, Javon and the rest of the holdouts this off season. How about investing some faith in yourself. If these guys really think they are underpaid, why shouldn't they simply rely on their hard work and abilities to ensure that teams have no choice but to pay them more money?
My hat is off to all owners who are not caving into spoiled athletes who, let's face it, will never be satisfied. Hopefully the message sent to other ingrates will be heard loud and clear: "Get your ass to work!"
Arash Markazi will be off this month, so filling in for him is actor/comedian Jay Mohr, who recently authored the best selling book, Gasping For Airtime: Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live, which you can purchase from his Web site, www.jaymohr.com.