A complex deal for these complex times

asoYes Raider fans, it is official. Nnamdi Asomugha will remain in Oakland as the most prized free agent in football never even stuck a toe in to test the waters of free agency.

Asomugha was a Raider when he went to bed last night and he’ll still be a Raider tomorrow while he eats his breakfast and reads the morning paper.

The ink is dry on a lucrative deal. Now let the debate begin.

For the average fan who only watches ESPN highlights, it is hard to grasp why a man who has managed just two interceptions in the last two seasons could be worth up to $50 million over the next three years.

Nnamdi Asomugha is to the sports media what soccer is to the American public: They just don’t get it. 

He is revered by those who play the game and is appreciated only by fans who understand the complexities football. Highlight reels of high school running backs will be viewed on You Tube more often than his exploits, yet offensive coordinators will spend more time watching Oakland Raiders game tape in order to develop a game plan that avoids him.

Try wrapping your head around the concept of a cornerback who has played for a franchise whose record is 24-72 since he has been on their roster,  yet is now worth the type of money  that Peyton Manning or Tom Brady will be making. While countless Americans are losing their jobs with each passing day in a dying economy, the sports world is only raising the bar and Asomugha is only raising his game.

Nnamdi has earned every penny that he has been promised. He has worked hard to become the best in his profession. When it was his time to cash in, he did not yell at his coordinator on the sideline and then take his contract negations to the media. There was never a public demand for a trade nor was there ever an attempt to use another team’s offer as leverage. Instead, a company man gave the company line and will now go to back work in the same office.

While Julius Peppers and Anquan Boldin grabbed the headlines, Nnamdi let his agent do the talking. The details of his contract aren’t even exact. One source states he has a six year deal, while another reports it as only three. After two years, he cannot be given the dreaded franchise tag and is to be paid a salary comparable to the NFL’s golden boys, yet he’ll most likely never receive a deal to endorse credit cards or sports drinks. The language of this contract is vague. The full contractual details, I’m sure, will be revealed sooner than A-Rod will tell the whole truth. But Asomugha will never be as infamous or noteworthy as a baseball player who smuggles steroids and lies to protect his millions. Nnamdi is the Bill Gates of sports: Filthy rich, yet incredibly humble.

Yes, this is indeed a modern conundrum. Why would a man with so much skill commit to a team with so much woe? Why would a team in one of the smaller sports markets be so ready to hand out millions in such uncertain times? How can a player with only two interceptions in the last two years be worth more than the receivers he is paid to keep out of the end zone and who surely sell more tickets and merchandise than him?

As many questions as there are, they will only have one answer: Because he’s worth it. That is not easy to comprehend, but it is true.

On the field, he is every bit the genius that Peyton Manning is and is an athlete that rivals Larry Fitzgerald’s nnamdiheart1ability. Off the field, he is as presidential as Barack Obama and is as thoughtful as Cornel West. Truly he is as brilliant as any of his fellow noteworthy alumnus from the University of California, Berkeley.

So before all the talk begins, I’d like to go on the record and say that in a world gone mad where we value entertainment over education, finally we have an athlete that is truly worth the money.

Congratulations Nnamdi! Now all you need is a Super Bowl ring to accompany your bust in Canton.

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Tags: A-Rod Barack Obama Bill Gates Cornel West Larry Fitzgerald Nnamdi Asomugha Peyton Manning Tom Brady

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