Unhappy Campers

Jets LG Pete Kendall made no secret of his discontent, almost as soon as last season ended. Scheduled to earn $1.7 million this season, the 12-year veteran wants a million dollar raise. Despite threatening to hold out, Kendall attended June workouts and was present at training camp Day One this week. Now, his motivation is to avoid the $14,000 daily fine, and a malcontented veteran player spewing venom to the media looms as a distraction, but Kendall showed up, and the Jets know his position.

Michael Strahan is the other side of the spectrum. Last season ends, roster bonuses paid out in March, the April draft passes, free agency comes and goes, June voluntary workouts finish, with team’s 2007 plans solidified training camp arrives in July. Then, out of the clear blue, the night before training camp opens, after an eternal offseason, your 14-year veteran defensive end, seven-time Pro Bowler, unofficial leader, and public face of the team, leaves a voicemail that he is not coming. What? That is a maneuver 12-year olds, who want to play video games instead, pull in Little League.

Varying reports say Strahan is honestly considering retirement, mulling lucrative broadcast offers, or that he is holding out for a raise. Strahan contract has two seasons remaining at $4 million each. Either way, the active sack leader must have come across this thought, and his decision not to report, before 11PM the night before camp. The Giants deserve better. His only NFL team stuck by him through a messy divorce, rewarded him with lucrative contracts throughout his illustrious career, and went so far as to move budding star Mathias Kiwanuka to OLB to accommodate Strahan’s return to DE after an injury riddled season. The last minute move reeks of unprofessionalism.

If Strahan wants to retire, that is fine, more power to him; he earned that right after 14 tough seasons. Just let the team know ahead of time so they can plan accordingly, maybe not early enough to disrupt the previous season, Tiki are you listening, but before the Giants spend an entire offseason practicing your backup at a new position and after most viable free agents are already scooped up. However, if the no show is contract related, Strahan becomes another greedy malcontent in a league full of them. Last check players receive raises, such as the one Dwight Freeny signed, based on merit and potential. A 34-year-old, coming off a major injury, already earning $4 million, does not fit the bill. I think GM Jerry Reese agrees.

One other possibility, maybe he simply wants to skip training camp. It is funny how many veteran players, with job security, suddenly come up with minor injuries, or contract problems, when training camp opens. Two-a-days, 100 degree heat, drills, running, repetition, not exactly appealing to the 30 and over crowd. Though doubtful, it is the best scenario for the Giants.

The Giant mantra for 2007 was all busy, no distractions, no talking. Two days into training camp, one media blow up, Reese publicly calling out former LT Luke Pettigout, and one mega hold out. So much for avoiding distractions. As shocking as it sounds, reports are the retirement talk is serious. For sake of Strahan’s public perception, I hope it is. No matter the reason, Strahan is missing, and the Giants are scrambling.

Back at Hofstra, the Jets, given a chance to prepare for the Kendall situation, “unknowingly” assigned the 34-year-old to the rookie dorm. A move in the Bellichek mold. Season one was a magic carpet ride for Mangini, season two is full of expectations. Starting training camp with controversy is not recommended, in addition to the first rookie holdout in almost a decade. The Jets need to address the Kendall situation immediately. One option is to meet his contract demands, unlikely. Another unlikely option is releasing Kendall, leaving him available to every team, including division rivals. The likely options are coming to a mutual agreement to play, or orchestrating a trade, or relegating him to the bench behind Adrien Clarke.

About that rookie hold out. CB Darrelle Revis, the 14th pick in Aprils draft, which the Jets were lauded for, wants a five year contract, while the Jets are offering six, the maximum for a Top 15 pick. I think Revis wins this battle. Other top picks have already inked 5-year deals, while it means Revis hits free agency a year early, the Jets need him now and cannot worry too much about the effects on the 2012 roster. Training camp is more important for NFL rookies than in any other sport, due to the complex systems, and steep learning curve. Unlike baseball, or basketball, players do not just step onto the field and play. It best serves the Jets to get Revis into camp ASAP.


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