The whole thing has spun out of control, and we're almost as much to blame as Donovin Darius is. Why have we become so manic about all of this?
In the 10-year history of the Jaguars franchise, fan reaction to Darius' demand to be traded and his comments made to newspapers in Minneapolis and Miami rivals only the fervor for the Jaguars to sign J.J. Stokes in the June, 2003, free-agent market. Think about it, folks. J.J. Stokes?
Why do we get so gunned up about such trivial issues? What is it about Jacksonville that causes it to turn itself upside down and inside out about a safety and an over-the-hill receiver?
Mark Brunell, I can understand. Byron Leftwich, yeah. The Jimmy Smith training camp holdout, absolutely. But not this. We're talking about a safety. They're everywhere.
In the past week, this reporter has entertained e-mail questions asking if it's true the Jaguars will trade Darius:
• To the Lions for a draft pick?
• To the Cowboys for a draft pick?
• To the Browns for a draft pick?
• To the Vikings for the seventh pick of the draft?
• To the Saints for Darren Howard?
• To the Dolphins for Patrick Surtain?
• To the Colts for Edgerrin James?
If this was 2003, the hot rumor would be Darius for Stokes.
What we need to do right now is separate fact from fiction. For example, it's a fact the Jaguars had a deal done with Detroit last year. It would've sent Darius to the Lions, had Darius been able to negotiate a contract with the Lions. They never got close.
So we begin with this simple understanding: If there is to be a trade that will send Darius to another team, it will hinge on a contract agreement between Darius and his new team. Nobody is going to trade for someone they'll run the risk of losing at the end of the season.
Darius holds the key to where he will play in 2005 and beyond. He has been given freedom to find a team interested in his services. When he finds that team, the Jaguars will work a trade. At that point, the trade will rely on Darius' willingness to negotiate a contract; rely on his reasonability.
Those are the simple facts. Darius is in control of the situation. He can make this as painless or as painful as he wishes.
In terms of your degree of pain, you are in control. You may accept the fact that this is the kind of contractual angst that is common to professional sports, or you can hop on Darius' morality train and continue to ride in meaningless circles.
Morality? This has nothing to do with morality. It's just business. Don't take it personally.
Now be a good businessman and get the deal done.