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Abraham Aftermath

By Mark Cannizzaro
Jets Insider.com Head Writer
August 30th, 2005
Abraham's "business decision" was bad business. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Abraham's "business decision" was bad business. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Upon his return Monday from a summer away from training camp as he opted not to sign the franchise player tender off that he was going to sign all along, John Abraham said it was merely "a business decision.''

Yeah, well it was bad business.

Where did it get him?

What did it do for his teammates and coaches?

Abraham, who had no leverage, being waited out by the Jets until just about the last possible second before he'd finally cave and sign the tender offer before being faced to lose a game check was as predictable as a Paul Hackett dump-off pass on third-and-12.

Abraham, not for one millisecond, was going to allow himself to lose a dime by continuing his vacation away from camp and the Jets knew this. So where was his leverage?

All Abraham has done with this so-called holdout is potentially place his 2005 season in peril and potentially hurt the very teammates that he said he missed in the process.

Neither Abraham nor the Jets are a better team as they prepare for the regular-season opener in Kansas City than they would have been had he been with the team since the beginning of training camp. There isn't a sane soul around who'll argue that fact.

For both Abraham's sake and the Jets' sake, let's hope he stays healthy, plays 16 games and is productive. Because he's certainly set himself up for failure and that's a shame, because he's a good guy who wants to do well.

Initially, I wanted to blame his agents for giving him bad advice, but Abraham is an adult who makes his own decisions in this world. No one made him stay out of camp until Monday. He's always had final say in this matter and he used poor judgment.

Abraham even admitted that he knew he wasn't going to get the long-term contract he wanted from the Jets, so why waste everyone's time with his useless posturing.

"Like I said, it was strictly the business part,'' Abraham said. "It's just part of the game and I think everyone understood that. It was just a business decision. My business decision could have been to come in on the first day, my business decision could have been to come in today, my business decision could have been to come in the Tuesday before the season starts.

"We just felt like this was the right time for me to come in. There's no love lost, no hard feelings, nothing wrong. I'm coming in with an open mind and ready to play. No grudges at all.''

If Abraham, say, tweaks his hamstring in next Wednesday's practice and can't play in Kansas City or gets hurt some other time that forces him to miss more time, if you don't think there'll be grudges and hard feelings from everyone from the coaches on down to the players you're naïve.

As for Abraham, God forbid he gets hurt again this season _ he's missed 23 out of a possible 80 games in his career. If he how quickly do you think the Jets are going to open their checkbook and sign him to a long-term deal with some $18 to $20 million in guaranteed money?

As Herman Edwards said regarding how long the starters will play in Thursday's preseason finale in Philadelphia, "don't blink.''

None of it made sense, the Abraham holdout, because no one was going to win, yet Abraham continued to hold his stance, saying, "I think this was the best personal decision I made, that's why I stayed out.''

Abraham now has an image to repair.

Part of that is his doing, part of that is the doing of some irresponsible sectors of the so-called media and some misinformed fans.

When Abraham, speaking frankly as he always has with reporters, talked about having to "weigh his options'' late last season when he was trying to come back from his knee injury but had his future in mind, too, he was not trying to send a message that finishing out the 2004 season wasn't as important as staying healthy so he could get himself a long-term contract in free agency.

I know. I stood there and posed the questions to Abraham along with a handful of other reporters.

Abraham is not a dog, never has been. If anything _ and as a reporter who admires those who aren't afraid of their own words it pains me to say this but ... _ Abraham is probably too honest for his own good.

Certain people, led by the maniacal Jets fan whom we all know from the WFAN day-time show, took Abraham's words and contorted them in such a way that it made Abraham look like he was dogging it.

I spoke to players at practice during that time (reporters are banned from practice) and their accounts were all consistent: Abraham wasn't physically well enough for him to play.

As the Jets got into the playoffs, either Herman Edwards or his medical staff erred in calling Abraham well enough to practice and indicating that he was going to be able to play against the Steelers in the playoff game.

Again, all player accounts at practice said that Abraham couldn't even push off from his bad knee.

Yet, it was the Jets this time who hung Abraham out on the clothesline for everyone to ridicule.

This is what made Jets GM Terry Bradway's typical anti-media words the other day so galling. Bradway, as usual, painted all media with the same brush _ should we all paint GM's with the same broad brush, or is each man his own?

"I think that John was taken advantage of because you can take any sound bite in the world and twist it to make it sound like something that isn't true,'' Bradway said. "It's unfortunate but sometimes when you say things that you may not mean or get taken out of context, or get baited or whatever it is all of the sudden it stays with you for a while and that's unfortunate in this case.

"You guys weren't at practice so you don't know (well, open practice then so we do). When you're a defensive lineman you better be able to get off the ball and engage somebody and do something before you can go out there and play. John couldn't do that. We said it all along.''

That's not true.

On Jan. 9, Edwards listed Abraham as "probable'' to face the Steelers, saying the medical staff has cleared him to practice.

All that did was fuel the critics already circling like vultures ready to pounce on Abraham when it was later announced that he wouldn't play the game.

"That might have been wishful thinking or overly optimistic, but at the end of the day, he wasn't ready to go,'' Bradway said.

It was a mistake on the organization's part and Bradway should own up to it instead of taking the typical low road and blaming the media.

One thing we know for certain: Abraham should be tougher mentally for all the things he's gone through. The only hope here is that he doesn't do what Bradway did and paint every reporter with the same broad brush. Hopefully, he'll understand that we're not all out to get him.

"I have no more challenges with the media,'' Abraham said. "I've been through everything. I've been called an alcoholic. I've been called a drunk (after his DWI incident in 2003). I've been called a coward for not playing because I was hurt. I've been called a guy that gets injured all the time.

"Anything possible, pretty much, that you all can say bad about me was said. You can say whatever you want to say, I don't really have anything else to look back on that I can be mad about. It's part of the game so I'm not even mad about it anymore.

"I'm just going to play the same way I've been doing. I'm not going to change my perception or anything. I've been doing the same thing. Like I said, Terry and Herm they look at me as a person on the field. They know all the stuff I've been perceived as is pretty much false. You can keep writing it, but as long as I can go home and put my head on my pillow and sleep well, I'm not going to worry about it.''

Just stay healthy, John. Stay healthy, be productive and you'll get your long-term contract with big guaranteed money.

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