Mankins an admirable fool for giving up millions

by | CBSSports.com Columnist
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If the reports are true that Logan Mankins, the New England Patriots' Pro Bowl guard, turned away from a multiyear, multimillion-dollar contract because he doesn't like bait-and-switch, we can say two things about him.

One, he's got a hell of a nerve. And two, he's got a hell of a nerve.

But first, backstory.

Logan Mankins might rather sit out the season than take the Pats' money and accept their apology demands. (US Presswire)  
Logan Mankins might rather sit out the season than take the Pats' money and accept their apology demands. (US Presswire)  
Mankins was holding out for a new contract over the summer, and in doing so made some remarks about the team and owner Bob Kraft in particular that didn't sit well with the head check-signer.

Anyway, when the new deal was hammered out, as these things usually are, Mankins was asked to apologize to Kraft. He did that, with a personal phone call that led to an extended and by all accounts very pleasant chat.

Deal done? Well, not quite. A little more than an hour later, he was asked to apologize again, only publicly this time, and Mankins thought he had just gotten played, because frankly, he had.

So he decided not to sign the deal, and wants to play somewhere else. A deal that could have lasted seven years and could have paid him $56.7 million, left a'mouldering because the Patriots wanted that extra bit of crawling.

Now we can look at this one of two ways. One, that he's an idiot for leaving that kind of money on the table, in a sport where that kind of money isn't all that common, and when it is, it is often attached to a bad team, which is its own version of hell.

Or two, we can tip our hat to him as a man who knows when he's wrong and when he's being wronged.

Or three, both. Manic equivocators that we are, we'll go with Option C.

The first apology, absolutely, was reasonable and fair. When a man is offering you that kind of scratch after you've let him have it, it's only considered good breeding to mend fences face to face, or in this case mouthpiece to earpiece. And in this case, the apology and subsequent conversation was by all accounts both prudent and reasonable.

But the second apology, which was asked for 90 minutes after the first, was simply piling on, it was classic bait-and-switch, it was gratuitous and dishonest and screams of "we don't mind changing our agreement after we've agreed."

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And no matter what your opinion of $56.7 million over seven years might be (and we assume you would be generally in favor of it), waiting to drop the second apology shoe is kind of creepy.

Now, because the words "reports" and "multiple sources" appear here, there is a possibility that it didn't happen just this way, and if the two sides ever make up, they may very well deny that it happened this way at all. But the Patriots have had more than a day to deny the reports, and if the reports were wrong, they wouldn't have waited that long to deny them.

In other words, we're going with, "They asked him to crawl in front of strangers an hour and a half after they said everything was cool, and he wouldn't do it."

If pride goeth before a fall, Logan Mankins has a hell of a well-developed sense of pride, but in this case, that seems fairly admirable. If the Patriots wanted a public apology from him, Kraft should have asked for it during his conversation, as a personal favor if nothing else. Mankins might bite, or he might not, but the element of after-the-fact surprise would no longer be there.

Then again, one or more enterprising reporters would have asked him about his summer remarks at the press conference announcing his new deal, and because Mankins isn't stupid, he would surely have said something along the lines of, "I was angry then, and I'm not now, and I apologized to Mr. Kraft, and everything is cool." The second apology would therefore have been folded into the first one, and nobody would have felt shorted or used.

But that's the smart way. The Patriots, for reasons that pass understanding, thought that adding a new level of abasement after the fact was legitimate and reasonable, and they were wrong. Double wrong, in fact, because now they have two problems rather than none. They still have the unsigned guard they need, and they look petty and sneaky.

Could they fix it? Yes, but it would mean that they apologize publicly, and that the Patriots do not do. So yeah, pride goeth before a fall both ways.

And Mankins? He made a point about character and honor that few players make, and all it cost him was $56 million, minus whatever his next deal gets him, and the adrenalin rush of a season opener with his friends and compatriots.

So yeah, he's got a hell of a nerve. And yeah, he's got a hell of a nerve.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

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