Without a single pass thrown, without an interception, without a word uttered, Rick Mirer’s popularity in Chicago already is in jeopardy.
The quarterback, all but formerly of the Seattle Seahawks, currently in limbo and potentially headed to the Bears, may be under one misconception already. Getting out of Seattle may be a good move, but it will not necessarily be a relief.
Yes, Bears fans are loyal and the coaching staff here will be more supportive. But expectations will be high, the consequences of failure harsh and the pressure immediate.
Taking all of that into consideration, Mirer does himself no favors by allowing negotiations between his agents and the Bears to linger much longer.
“I don’t get it,” said one agent, who represents many big-name athletes in several sports, including football. “As this thing drags out, this kid becomes a villain.”
And this is not a villainous person we’re talking about. Rick Mirer, by all accounts, is one of the more unassuming young millionaires in the league, very eager to prove himself and well-intentioned about his desire to come to the Bears.
That, however, doesn’t seem to matter much. As appears to be the case with an increasing number of young athletes, their intentions are often lost in a quest for the winning deal. Not just a good deal or even a great deal, but the winning one.
The art of compromise is lost in the pursuit of victory, the player’s welfare too often lost in ego. Does it really matter if a highly regarded rookie expresses publicly his strong desire to come to training camp rather than holding out, when the consequences are a potential “loss” for the agent?
“He’ll thank me later, when he sees the financial benefit,” said another agent who has had several of his clients hold out their rookie years.
But will he ever fully recover in the eyes of the fans and, more important, teammates? There’s only so much empathy to go around.
While Mirer, according to friends and relatives, was looking forward to coming to Chicago because he likes the organization and this part of the country, how many of those desires are taken into account by an agent engaged in a competition of his own?
The San Francisco 49ers come in very handy as rival suitors right now. And worthy suitors they are, to be sure. But does it matter that Mirer may have no desire to begin the second stage of his career on the bench?
One of Mirer’s friends said, “Rick is just like all of us. He’s waiting by the phone to hear what’s going to happen.”
Presumably, he’s still the boss. But you wonder how much influence he really wields when he’s waiting by the phone.
“This is the moment to cut a deal with the Bears - when it’s hot,” said an agent. “The best deal you’re going to make can be made right now.”
“The greatest danger an athlete has in this business,” another agent said, “is to have an agent who would rather see his own name in the paper than his client’s.”
Maybe the second-greatest danger is an athlete who has to read the paper to see what his future holds.
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