BALTIMORE — One thought during a relatively sleepy day on the NFL training camp slate (more camp coverage to come tomorrow): Jets quarterback Sam Darnold went to work for the first time as a professional on Monday, saddled with the needless weight of being depicted as a prima donna quarterback who wouldn’t sign his rookie deal. The potential for him to get perforated at the podium was apparently great enough that the team’s media staff held him back from reporters, with his only message to the fans being a hurried nine-second Instagram video. Watch it if you get the chance. He looks about as excited as a man watching his car getting towed from the window of a restaurant.
It made me think about a conversation I had with veteran Houston Texans corner Johnathan Joseph after camp one day in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. We were talking about the current state of media, and how a snippet of the first report can cause a flood that ends up burying the truth inexorably. Once something can be digested in 100 characters, it really doesn’t matter what the reporters dig up in subsequent hours, days or weeks. Darnold is selfish. Dez is a headache. Donald doesn’t care about his teammates.
“You know how it is today,” Joseph said. “When a guy signs a $100 million contract and it says $80 million guaranteed and the new numbers come out and it’s $40 million guaranteed, what do people remember? 80? That’s how it works.
“They never do the research to get the real answer. They just hear what they hear on the surface. Whatever they see on a TV outlet, that’s what it is. That’s what we’re stuck with in today’s world.”
While it’s true that Jets fans will discard this head-scratching period of team history once Darnold threads a ball between two defenders for a first down, the conditions for an avalanche exist. What if he struggles in camp? What if it doesn’t work out? Joseph had an interesting perspective, illuminating the current that is flowing against football players at all times. When does it become too much to constantly have to prove themselves? To constantly play ball with a team looking to save cash and set a precedent? With fans who want them to sound and act a certain way? With coaches who demand their bodies on a daily basis? And what would we do if our employers asked the same?
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1. If you’re planning to be a full-time anthem stander, you might want to remove your cap first.
2.Jon Gruden’s spiciness at the podium might feel good going down, but will it cause indigestion later?
3. Some worthwhile quotes from Bill Belichick on the soon-to-be enshrined Randy Moss.
4. Quite possibly the only real competition between high-drafted rookie QB and veteran stopgap rolls on in Cleveland. Hue Jackson says all the right things about Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield.
5. The Rams have a great reference point for an Aaron Donald deal in their own locker room. Ndamukong Suh talks about the contract everyone is waiting for.
Thanks for all of you for following along with our training camp coverage so far. Many great features still to come. On to Baltimore, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Denver.
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