Thursday, March 03, 2005

LaMont Jordan is a lucky man

LaMont Jordan is the rarest of athletes in this strange sports world. He left one team for another, signed for a whole bunch of clams, and fans really can't get mad about him doing so.

Jordan, the talented backup running back for the New York Jets, is about to become the starter for the Oakland Raiders. Reports say Jordan will get $27.5 million for five years from Oakland, while the Jets were offering close to $3 million per year.

That's $2.5 million difference per year, give or take a diet peach Snapple. Jordan's agent claimed it wasn't about the money. MIKE HAMPTON ALERT! MIKE HAMPTON ALERT! When they say it's not about the money, then it's all about the benjamins, baby.

Only in this case, it could be the truth. Consider:

* Jordan was the backup to Curtis Martin.
* Martin led the NFL in rushing.
* Martin has two years left, at least.
* The Jets just signed Chad Pennington and Shaun Ellis to big deals.
* John Abraham got the franchise tag.
* Santana Moss wants cash, or he gets traded for Laveraneus Coles who makes more than Moss does or will.
* All Jordan ever wanted to do was play.

By signing with Oakland, Jordan will get what he always craved: a chance to start in the NFL. Jets fans cannot be upset or blame the franchise for losing Jordan. This was his opportunity. Let him go after it. The Jets simply cannot cut, trade, waive, release, whatever, Martin after his tremendous season. Thus, there's nowhere for Jordan to go but elsewhere.

It's like those favorite pair of sneakers you had a kid. Eventually your feet outgrow the sneakers and it's time to buy a new pair.

Of course, we all know that Jordan will now rush for 2,220 yards this year and Martin will tweak an ankle in Week 1, sprain a knee in Week 3, crack three ribs in Week 8, then limp in for another 1,000-yard season in the third quarter of Week 17. These things are givens. More truthful than any sworn testimony in a courtroom. More logical than the games section of the LSAT.

But do not blame Jordan for making the smart move for his career. He did too well this year in limited time and the Jets would be foolish to pay him starter's money to not play for more than half the game. Jordan would be foolish to take that deal.

Athletes are all driven by that inner fire, that quest for glory, that burning desire to be the best. Above the strength, the speed, the skill, it's that competitive edge that propels athletes to extraordinary feats.

So when Jordan returns to play against the Jets, cheer him during pregame introductions. Then boo him during the game. Boo, don't hate.