If I were to list the most unsurprising news items of the day, that list would probably be led by something about RIM sucking, then something about Kim Kardashian wearing very little, why she’s wearing it, and her infatuation with the sarong. However, why she’s been allowed to exist will not be examined, despite the obvious hypocrisy of her poking fun at Paris Hilton for a sex tape.
See what you’ve done, society? I’ve outed myself. I’ve read the very garbage that’s the root of my snark, because it can’t be avoided, and it can’t be stopped. Useless smut consumes us, and poisons our thoughts.
Today’s Maurice Jones-Drew development is far less poisonous, but equally expected. He won’t be reporting to training camp, and while that’s disappointing and it sets the stage for the bitter death match where no true winner will emerge, Jones-Drew’s decision should surprise absolutely no one.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to report that Jones-Drew won’t be in attendance today. When the Jaguars officially open their training camp, they’ll be doing it without the defending rushing champ who had 1,606 yards on the ground last year, and the league’s only RB who’s put together three straight seasons with over 1,300 yards.
Due a salary of $9.4 million over the final two years of his contract, Jones-Drew wants something closer to market value for his services before he advances closer to the age of 30, an age when running backs typically recede into the league’s dark nether regions, never to be seen again.
He’s one of the league’s few remaining featured backs during an era of growing platoons and time shares, and if he’s going to be ridden for 300 carries a season (he’s had 954 over the last three years), injury risk increases significantly. Therefore, in his mind, his salary should too during what could be his final few seasons of elite productivity.
Alright fine, MJD, fair enough, and as I’ve written multiple times, the player is often cast as the villain in holdout scenarios. Those who develop an unhealthy obsession with contract numbers and CBA legalese know better, but the fan who only sees black and white, good and bad, and wins and losses thinks MJD is a selfish prick. What they don’t see or at least acknowledge is that if, say, he tears apart his knee during Week 2 this year and it’s determined that he may never be the same runner, the Jaguars can cut Jones-Drew and he’ll never see the full $30.95 million he signed on for in 2009.
This is a ruthless business with no victims, only castaways. So if a player can financially justify his holdout by comparing his salary to his peers (and Jones-Drew can) and he’s willing to accept the consequences of a $30,000 fine daily, then he should sit, and sit with pride.
Sit until you’re paid, Maurice, or until the effort becomes fruitless, but your point is still made. For Jones-Drew, the latter will almost certainly be the outcome, especially after the comments made by new Jaguars owner Shad Khan yesterday.
Khan said there’s “no decision here,” before picking up his hammer and crushing Jones-Drew’s raise request:
“There’s more than 50 players under contract. There are other people under contract in management, coaches. Does that mean if you do it for one, you do it for everybody. Where do you draw the line?’’
You’re not wrong, Khan. But neither is Jones-Drew.
But Khan signs the paychecks, and the man with the paycheck pen always wins. This will likely last until mid August, with Jones-Drew pushing the Jaguars until the absolute latest date he feels comfortable reporting to camp and leaving himself enough time to learn a new coaching staff’s offensive system.
Until then, a relationship will be strained and possibly fractured as a player tries to earn his deserved monetary respect, while Blaine Gabbert and Justin Blackmon, two key young building blocks, are left rudderless in training camp without the offense’s backfield anchor.
Carry on, kids. This is just the NFL in August.