The "Poster Child of Media Constructed Holdouts" Holdout
You know the term, "in a vacuum"?
Like, "In a vacuum, all of the Philadelphia Eagles' signings were brilliant in and of themselves. Question is whether they, and the team, jell." (1)
Consider this your lesson.
In a vaccum, the Darrelle Revis holdout really wouldn't have been all that memorable.
OK: The guy sat out for 35 days, racked $578,305 in fines and dipped the whole 2010 preseason.
But in a lot of ways, it was pretty cookie cut -- which to me says "forgettable."
It followed the life cycle of your quintessential holdout pretty closely: Player wanted money (Revis). Team didn't have it (the Jets). He pulled the plug on his "best cornerback in football" services. They fumed.
Pretty straight forward, right?
Well it would have been, if not for the splendors of HBO programming.
If you remember, that was the season "Hard Knocks" chronicled New York's training camp, oozing with Rex Ryan's profanities, Woody Johnson's questionable acquisitions, Antonio Cromartie's unselective amnesia (2) -- everything Jets fans loved to love.
For the rest of us, the subplot was great theatre. Johnson and Ryan and Mike Tanenbaum shuffling to and from obscure New Jersey diners, cameras aimed like SWAT team red dots, everyone scrambling and near-losing their minds over developments the Jets wouldn't release!
Man... What a great summer.
Again: Unless you had a vested interest in the defense continuing its impermeability, which was somewhat in jeopardy. Still had Ryan's scheme. Still had the vast majority of the 2009 AFC Championship-losing roster.
But talk about a cog. Well, I'll spare you. You know Revis' 2009 stats against Andre Johnson, Terrell Owens (twice), Chad Ochocinco (twice) and the rest. How he singlehandedly vaulted an above-average team with even higher-flight coaching to another stratosphere. How he carried the half of the ball that carried the other half of the ball.
And if you don't I just told you. (3)
So for obvious reasons, Jets fans hung on every word. Or bleeped out word. Or frame. Or whatever.
However you slice (or censor) it: They understood the stakes.
Then again, so did HBO.
Accidentally or not -- you lean toward not, given that Revis' long-anticipated holdout was the icing on a TV golden angel food cake of Ryan's first year as coach, and all the controversial signings that undoubtedly made the Jets as appealing a target as any -- the network stumbled on a ratings smorgasbord.
Seriously: This was like the Nielsen Golden Corral.
And HBO stuffed its face. Appealing to both the die-hards and casual fans (of football and/or the Jets, specifically), the production crew covered every speckle of action and presented it in a way anybody could understand. Not only did it optimize its opportunity to clean up in the ratings, but you could argue that HBO reeled in countless viewers and converted them into true fans of the team and league.
Fine and good, that fan inflection still doesn't describe the voracity of the holdout.
Which, truthfully, wasn't much -- though you'd never know.
Given the visibility and framing of a million-dollar premium channel network, the series somewhat magnified the intensity of Revis' holdout. Barbs were accentuated. Offer-counteroffer tensions mildly overblown.
It wasn't puffery, or the egregious falsity of Joe Millionaire. (4) But it unarguably hyped what was a pretty tepid standoff.
Not anybody's fault, just reality.
Given that Revis didn't miss a single regular season snap (which he said he would), was rewarded with a four-year, $46 million deal and $32 guaranteed (which the team said it wouldn't), and exploded in celebration -- he tweeted "I'm coming home baby!!! Revis Island. Let's Go" hours after signing -- it's pretty clear that no bridges were burned.
Still -- and here's where this erodes into a "perception vs. reality" debate -- it was believed to be somewhat salty, more so than normal.
And for that, it earns mention on this list.
(1) Can't wait for the ADD-stricken Eagles fans to blow up the comment box. I know, I know -- pretty sinister, baiting them into rage with an arbitrary usage of "in a vacuum." Too easy, though. Too easy...
(2) Look: We know eight rugrats is a lot to track. And we're not judging Cromartie for having the sexual discretion of a gerbil. But when said factors align like the stars of priceless, accidental humor in the reality TV sky, we're going to laugh. Hard. Sorry. (Expect for, I'm not.)
(3) I know, I know -- thoughtful guy, right?
(4) I might've been the only person on the planet to have caught it, but producers on the show absolutely doctored the audio from one off-in-the-woods wandering between Joe and one of his (insert somewhat derogatory term to describe promiscuous females, and rhymes with "Joe"). You can clearly tell that the slurp noise, a half-second