An Open Letter to Vincent Jackson

To Vincent Jackson:

Please tell me these rumors about you sitting out the 2010 season aren't true. I understand that you're not thrilled about the idea of playing on a one-year contract for less than what you're really worth, but these are the NFL's rules. It's not like you're the only one screwed by this, and I seriously doubt the NFL is going the overturn it's entire system to make it easier for you. I also doubt the Chargers will pay you four times what the system says they have to just because you want it.

Look, this is a losing battle. You have far too much to lose and, quite frankly, I think you might be overvaluing yourself a little bit. Let me break down the issues after the jump...

1. Terrell "Unemployed" Owens
Don't laugh. You're not far from being labeled as "too much trouble". I get that you're a great receiver, so was Owens, but you're not seeing the baggage you carry. Two DUIs and a then driving without a license. Don't you have people to tell you not to do stupid stuff like that? Don't you have friends that'll drive you to the game since the state of California says you're not allowed to?

And don't even get me started on the stupid penalty in the Jets game for kicking the challenge flag. Have you ever seen any other player do that? Did you think that was okay? The smart thing to do in that game, in all games, is to be respectful towards the rules and the men who enforce them. The dumb thing is to test the boundaries and be a comedian. You're quickly earning a reputation of a dumb guy who happens to be a good receiver, but creates a lot of headaches as well. Chris Henry had that same reputation. It's not one you want to have, and it's not one that's going to make the Chargers jump to sign you to a long-term deal. They want you to prove you've grown up a little bit first.

 

2. The Rivers Factor
This is kindof like the Chicken and the egg question. Do you make Philip Rivers great or does he make you great? Considering Rivers was pretty darn good while you were sitting on the bench, I'm thinking he'd be okay with just about any set of NFL WRs, but I don't know for sure. You know what will answer that question? Your four-game suspension. The team is going to take a nice hard look at what the team is without you before they decide if you're worth the investment and the trouble. Telling them they have to do so beforehand or you're going to sit out for the year is just silly. The rules are on their side in this case. One day they'll be on yours.

 

3. Competition
So, you're the best WR in football huh? Let me pour over these 2009 numbers for a second.

  • Tied for 4th in the league (with, GASP, Malcom Floyd) in yards per reception
  • Tied for 10th in the league in receiving TDs. Tied with Andre Johnson, Marques Colston, DeSean Jackson, Chad Ochocinco and Robert Meachem. All good receivers, but you know what they all have in common? None of them are among the top 5 highest paid WRs.
  • Tied for 9th in receiving yardage for the season. Tied with DeSean Jackson and Hines Ward.
  • Tied for 8th in receiving yards per game with DeSean Jackson, again.

So it would appear that you and DeSean Jackson had almost the exact same season as receivers. If we ignore the fact that DeSean is also one of the best PR/KR in the league, and is four years younger than you, we can say that you guys are of the same value....right? 

DeSean Jackson's 2010 Salary: $805,000
Vincent Jackson's Offered Tender: $3,268,000

What's the problem here? Is it that Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne are making $7 million per? Well, they're older than you. You'll get up there after this season. All you have to do is prove you're not as big of an off-the-field risk as teams fear, and that you're smart enough to sit out your suspension with your head down and come back strong. All you're going to do by sitting out is play into the fears that these teams already have about you.

 

4. Everyone Loves a Comeback Story

It's true. Ever hear of Josh Hamilton? Ricky Williams? Randy Moss? If there's one things fans love more than a guy who keeps his nose clean, it's a guy that grows up right in front of them. Want to become a fan favorite? Change the fan's perception of you. A year from now, when you're signing a huge deal and some Raiders fan says to me "He's a headcase", I'd love to respond "He used to be. He's grown up a lot in the last year. He won't be getting into trouble anymore." So would the rest of the Chargers fans. We're rooting for you as a player and a person. Step 1 is to admit that you've messed up in the past, and that your current situation is punishment/karma for that. Take your medicine, sign your tender, do your job, and we'll be the ones making your case for you to the front office next year. 

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