“The game is the game.”

If you’re a fan of the HBO classic TV show ‘The Wire,’ you’re quite familiar with this phrase and all that means, if you’re not familiar with the show don’t worry this will still make sense. This phrase was uttered multiple times throughout the course of the show, in many different tones, by many different people. The phrase was used in light-hearted humorous ways, as a teaching tool and as threats or warnings.

“The game” is the drug game, the cat-and-mouse game the drug game creates with the cops, the juking of stats and chain of command issues among police, state senators scamming money, mayors selling their souls needing to earn votes and support, teachers having to jump through hoops in their classes and of course the game between the fraternity of the law, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges. “The game” extends to all these different people, in different professions, from different walks of life, but they all play the game.

We all love the actual game of football, but as Stringer Bell said, “there’s games beyond the f*@%*#$ game.” Football isn’t just about playing the actual game, teams have to do their best to field the best possible roster within the confines of the salary cap and part of that process is free agency and the art of negotiation is a game all unto it’s self. But it’s not a spectator sport designed to overanalyze, it’s a chess match between the agents and the GM and Revis’ agents are basically the sports agent equivalent to the ruthless Marlo Stanfield.

Nowadays people obsess over every word and try to decipher the hidden message in each syllable, it’s not like it used to be, well not to us at least.

Contract disputes weren’t always so public and even the ones that were didn’t have to deal with the Internet, Twitter and 24 hour news cycles. We notice these changes and so do the agents as they have evolved along with the game (Revis’ agents work the media like their own private puppets) and have taken advantage of the rule changes, but at it’s core it’s still the same game, the art of negotiation. Start with outrageous demands, or on the flip side low ball the player, and prepare for a whole lot of posturing on both sides, the posturing just becomes more loud and public than it used to.

“The game done changed.” Cutty said as he tried to adjust to life outside of prison. “Game’s the same, just got more fierce.” Slim Charles responded. And that’s the same thing we’re dealing with now, the game of negotiation is still the same, it just got more fierce.

Revis may very well end up getting trade, but the recent speculation has come from pure conjecture. Yes, it’s true no one met with Revis’ agents during the combine even though they were staying just down the block from each other, but to think that means anything is quite a reach.

“All in the game yo (laughs), all in the game.”

Yes, the Jets met with plenty of other Jet players during that week but they all either had expired contracts or were asked to consider restructuring (Holmes) their current contract. Revis still has another year left on his contract and won’t be restructuring his contract and sure, often times teams will use this time to try and extend a guy going into the last year of his contract, but recovering from a torn ACL tends to delay those negotiations. So he’s under contract, not going to restructure and both sides would be out of their minds to start negotiating before he can prove he’s healthy again (or prove he’ll be every bit as good as he was from Revis’ side), so what exactly would be the purpose of them meeting? Nothing, but it makes for a good story and a way to pile up webpage hits.

Anything you have heard about Revis’ intentions and demands as well as the Jets intentions and plans is simply posturing. Would the Jets trade Revis? Sure if the price was right. John Idzik would be a fool not to check out the market, but that’s a far cry from speculating that they have made up their minds to trade him and will continue to snub him until they do. Or that they owe him the decency to tell him they’re shopping him. And what happens if they tell him that but don’t get a good enough offer? Now they just told their best player ‘we tried to trade you but it looks like we’re stuck with each other.’ But it would also be foolish of Idzik to not publicly float the idea that maybe they won’t re-sign to keep Revis’ demands in check, it’s standard negotiation procedure, as is the idea that Revis will “reportedly demand” to be the highest paid defender in the NFL.

That’s how negotiations work, remember when the Yankees front office acted like they were thinking of not re-signing Derek Jeter? They were always going to re-sign Jeter but they had to throw some junk out in the public to bring Jeter’s number down (whether it worked or not, they had to try, that’s their job). If the player and agent know the team’s plan is to definitely sign him than the player has all the leverage and can milk every last cent from the team’s budget, which is exactly what happened during the last contract negotiation between these two. Revis and his agents knew the Jets would ultimately pay him, he was too important to their plans so Revis and his agents milked it for all it was worth, like good agents do.

This time, Idzik doesn’t want that to happen. Revis is still recovering and hey the secondary played pretty damn well without him, maybe he’s not as vital to the Jets defense as we all thought. Of course that’s nonsense, but that’s the message Idzik should be floating just to keep Revis’ demands reasonable even if we all know it’s just posturing.

It’s also probably not wise to trade him now while his value has lowered, any teams interested in trading for him will be willing to give up much less if they’re not sure he’s healthy considering they’ll have to sign him to an extension as well. The most realistic time for him to be traded would be during training camp if he’s proven he’s healthy or if the Jets get off to a slow start next year and Revis is back to Revis they could then flip him for a bunch of 2014 draft picks. Of course the other part of any possible Revis trade is the fact that trading him would actually cost the Jets $3 million against this year’s cap.

But since, like Bodie said “This game is rigged, we like the little bi*%#* on the chess board,” we’ll keep hearing new rumors and conspiracy theories about how threats of alien invasions could alter Revis’ contract demands. If Revis is so content (does anyone else remember at the end of the season he said he knows he needs to prove he’s healthy before talking contract and promised no holdout?) why does a story come out that him and his agents feel snubbed, you ask? Because that’s what his agents want you to hear, they want to create a public outcry and try and force the Jets hand, it’s the only leverage they have.

As Stringer Bell said, “this here game is more than the rep you carry, the corner you hold. You gotta be fierce, I know that, but more than that, you gotta show some flex, give and take on both sides.” With agents and especially with a new GM you have to show flex, have to be fierce to establish or maintain a solid rep, once everyone is done putting on their sideshow and they sit down to the table, that’s where the give and take begins.

The game is rigged, in situations like these the reporters are basically freelancing for the agents, it’s just a public negotiation. Nothing means anything until something actually happens. Reporters and fans alike, we’re all just pawns on the chess board like Bodie talked about, pawns in the game of public negotiation. Many fans are outraged that the Jets aren’t giving their best player enough respect, but Idzik can’t worry about that, the fans can’t ever be part of the equation of building a football team. Other fans are sick of Revis and the constant contract drama, but ask Omar he’ll tell you, “look man I’ll do what I can do to help ya’ll, but the game is out there… and it’s either play, or get played.”

All of this is just part of the game, the game is out there whether we like it or not and all players either have to play or get played and the bigger the name the better the ratings for that particular game of negotiations which brings more scrutiny. But for the players it’s about security, that’s why his agents are trying to force the Jets hand now. Scare them into thinking they won’t be able to re-sign him and get that guaranteed money while they can, it’s unlikely they could scare the Jets to offer them enough to satisfy them now, but the game is out there and they’re going to play.

Revis could very well get traded to San Francisco on March 12, or mid-season or not at all. He could play out his contract and walk or he could end up re-signing and staying with the Jets (probably important to note Revis is signed to Nike who will pay him much more if he stays in the New York market), it’s all part of the game Revis and his agents are playing with the Jets and we get to observe from the outside.

The other game that does involve the fans is the media and the game they play, which is to create headlines and collect page views. In page views speculation beats confirmation every time, this game is rigged like a carnival game, but fans should take Marla Daniels advice, “The game is rigged. But you can not lose if you do not play.”

The game with the media is absolutely rigged, just like the cops in ‘The Wire,’ they juke the stats by chasing after misleading-juicy headlines to attract the casual fans. The diehards are going to read anyway, so why cater to them? Attract attention and grab the casual fans, everything is stacked against the diehard fans favor, but you can not lose if you do not play. If you don’t allow yourself to get caught up in rumors, you’ll avoid a world of frustration. If you hang on to every word you’ll drive yourself into the asylum and you’ll hear so many conflicting reports your head will spin around and around until it pops off.

Idzik has addressed the issue, he did actually say they intend to keep Revis as a Jet, and he shouldn’t utter another word on the matter. The Jets have plenty of other more pressing concerns that need to be addressed first, get Revis healthy, then the subject can be broached again. But the story won’t die, not with the slow news cycle of the offseason, the story will be recycled like Manti Te’o jokes and every time it will mean absolutely nothing, until that one time it means everything and that’s where you’ll see the word confirmed.

“The game is the game”

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