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Just how influential is media hype in inflating a fanbase’s perceived quality by an athlete? According to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ wide receiver Jason Hill’s statements early this week, the influence is massive, particularly with regard to Jets Safety Darrelle Revis:
“It’s a game that we all play. He been playing the game, Revis, just as long as I’ve been playing. This is a game full of good players making plays. He just made a lot more plays on TV than we’ve made being here in Jacksonville. He’s a good player. We respect him. Hopefully he respects us because we’re going to bring it just like they’re going to bring it.”
This kind of statement that of a meek kid chiming in with a nebbishly serious point at an otherwise raucous lunch table “rank out” contest amongst the popular kids. The rest of the table then turns on the quipper and targets him for relentless teasing become for the duration of the period. What Hill said has some merit: yes, an athlete on a New York team is likely to get more media hype than in a small market. And, yes, at times -though based on Revis’s hype-free statistics the argument is hard to justify – perception of that athlete’s quality may be artificially inflated based on being on a media darling franchise. The quiet and workmanlike Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs may have been the best and was certainly the most successful player in the NBA during the first half of the 21st century. Still, fan perception lended “The Best” title more often to more personable, flashier sports celebs like Shaquelle O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, or even Lebron James by only his third year in the league.
Still, the rules of the high school cafeteria and the NFL fraternity are the same: you back up your position by combating it head on. It’s the only way. Soft spoken solemnity alone is for the birds. And so, Hill suffered the same fate as the poor earnest quipper in the cafeteria when Revis lashed back and laid out the gauntlet:
“I don’t even know who that dude is. What’s his name again? I have no clue. I don’t know who he is, whatever he said is what he said. Whatever his opinion is of us, we’ll find out on Sunday…”
Actually, this banter is slightly different from the high school cafeteria analogy. In the cafeteria, the unfortunate outspoken lad has to take the harsh rebuke afforded to him and respond to it directly. In Hill’s case, though perhaps not based on his own choice, he has been afforded the opportunity to get up from the table and put another victim in his place. Hill is listed doubtful for Sunday with a hip injury. Surely, if HIll doesn’t play, his replacement will thank him afterward for the opportunity to defend Hill’s outspokenness on the field.