It’s an image that still haunts Jets players, the sight of Leon Washington with blood stains on his right sock. It was last Oct. 25, the day the popular running back suffered a horrific leg injury that included two open fractures. Bone pierced the skin in two places that day in Oakland, and the first witnesses – the players on offense – were deeply impacted.
Especially those seeking long-term contract extensions.
Football is a brutally violent sport, and a promising career can be cut short in a heartbeat. Thankfully, Washington is on the road to recovery, but there’s no telling how many millions he lost because of the injury. He rejected a long-term offer from the Jets before the season, opting to play out the year, but the strategy backfired. Next thing you know, he’s on a plane to Seattle, traded on draft day to the Seahawks.
He went from a core player to a spare part, still chasing that big contract.
It’s amazing how often Washington’s former teammates mention his name when discussing their current contract situations. C Nick Mangold and LB David Harris, both entering the final year of their deals, mention his name when talking about the desire for long-term security.
CB Darrelle Revis essentially has three years left on his contract, but he’d be taking a big risk this season by playing for only $1 million. The Jets are planning to buy back 2011 and 2012, guaranteeing him a total of $20 million, but they don’t have to execute that transaction until after the 2010 season, when his deal voids. If Revis suffers a Leon-like injury, do you think the Jets will guarantee $20 million? Unlikely.
So, yeah, Revis & Co. are freaked out by a potential Washington disaster.
“When something like that happens, it’s fresh in the mind, especially since Leon and I came in together (in 2006),” Mangold told me.
Revis told friends that he was unsettled by Domenik Hixon’s freak, season-ending knee injury on the turf at the New Meadowlands Stadium, where the New York Giants held a minicamp practice only one day before the Jets. At any given moment, a career can be altered. That’s why these players want the Jets to show them the money.