Commentary

Revis leading by following Martin?

Ditching holdout is good call if Jets star is to follow Hall of Famer's footsteps

Updated: July 21, 2012, 8:22 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

Darrelle Revis and Curtis Martin have similar roots. They grew up a few miles from each other in the Pittsburgh area and they attended the same school, Pitt, a dozen years apart.

In two weeks, Martin will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was the quintessential team player, a star who never acted like a star. Revis, who probably will join Martin in Canton one day, needs to follow that example, needs to be that guy for the New York Jets.

Darrelle Revis
Al Pereira/New York Jets/Getty ImagesDrafted in 2007, Revis has 18 interceptions in five seasons.

This is a start.

After months of dropping hints about wanting to renegotiate his contract and remaining noncommittal about whether he'd report to training camp, Revis has abandoned the idea of a holdout. A league source confirmed an Associated Press report that the star cornerback is planning to report to camp Thursday with the rest of his teammates.

Revis told confidants more than a month ago that he didn't think he'd be able to get a new contract from the Jets, a source said Saturday, but he played out the drama, hoping to lure them to the bargaining table. Didn't happen.

He could have pushed the issue with another holdout, his second in 24 months. That would have been ugly, a major distraction for the Jets, whose delicate team chemistry would have been tested.

Let's not be naive here: Revis backed down because of business reasons, but you'd like to think, in some way, his motivation was altruistic, that he was trying to be like Martin.

"I look up to Curtis and what he's done," Revis told me a few weeks ago. "He was a big name at Pitt. When you're younger, looking at a guy like that, you want to be that type of guy.

"I think a lot of guys respect what he's done, him just being a true professional. I never played with him, but you hear through the building that he led by example. He was a quiet guy, but when he spoke, everybody listened. You see the player he was and you want to be like him."

Revis has heard a lot about Martin because his uncle, former NFL defensive lineman Sean Gilbert, played with him at Pitt. Revis missed Martin by two years with the Jets, but he has a chance to carry on a legacy of greatness -- if he doesn't allow his image to be tainted by greed.

Make no mistake, Revis considered a holdout, hoping the Jets would tear up the final two years of his four-year, $46 million contract and give him a nine-figure, Jet-for-life deal -- not that anything is forever in the NFL.

The Jets' response?

Crickets.

The Jets never said much about it publicly, but know this: They were prepared to take a hard-line stance with Revis, who made $32.5 million over the first two years of the deal.

No doubt, Revis got the hint. He also didn't want to walk away from a $1 million reporting bonus. And he didn't want a $30,000-a-day fine for holding out and an extra three years at modest salaries tacked on to the end of his contract, tying him to the Jets through 2016 -- based on the holdout deterrent clause negotiated into his current deal.

Or maybe Revis just wanted to play football and be a team leader. He's the Jets' best player, and you always want your best player to be a role model for everyone else. Many years ago, that was the primary motivation in signing Martin away from the New England Patriots, a move that changed the franchise.

It'll be interesting to get Revis' take Thursday, when he reports to camp in Cortland, N.Y. He will have the opportunity to set a positive tone, to say the contract stuff is history and that it's time to play football.

After the season, Revis will have the leverage. He can't be tagged as a franchise player, per a clause in his contract, and there's no way the Jets will let him play out his deal. Until then, he should do his job and continue his journey to Canton.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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