“Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth (tweet?) speaks” (Jesus, Matthew 12:34).
“There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis” (Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking).
Moments after the Seattle Sounders eliminated our Colorado Rapids in the Western Conference Final at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on November 27, Jermaine Jones tweeted out how much he looked forward to free agency (baby). Soon after, the tweet was removed, replaced by a more appropriate sentiment considering the circumstances.
I was not happy. In fact, I honestly hoped the guy would walk. If that's the first reaction he had after that gut-wrenching loss? Walk. This fan that resides in the South Stands wants guys that want to be here.
Then I came to my senses.
And I'm still bent. I know it's business. And I know it's Jermaine Jones (cue the applause), World Cup stud, USMNT staple. His arrival was called for by our resident rabbi and made possible by the Rapids Front Office.
But he also arrived after a six-game suspension for his all-but-crashing into a referee while with the New England Revolution. He's been plagued with injuries. His aggressive style is a fan-favorite, but also a yellow card accumulator.
So, speaking of Bent, our illustrious editor, Abbie Mood, connected me with the editor of The Bent Musket (the SB Nation blog covering the Revs), Jake Catanese. I fired off a few questions to him. He was kind enough (and comprehensive enough) to respond. It's worth your read.
Burgundy Wave: How would you describe Jermaine Jones' time in New England?
Bent Musket: I think very similar to Colorado in many ways. Jones had an immediate presence on the field for both teams, the Revs in summer 2014 and the Rapids in spring of 2016 as you guys rose up the West and Supporter's Shield standings. He is a disruptive and game-changing force on the field and can certainly make others around him better but at the same time he is still Jermaine Jones. He's going to have off games where his disruptive tendencies come back to haunt him and his team in his own half.
Overall, I think fans will remember Jones for the MLS Cup run than the injury plagued 2015 season. The Revs are a long way from the peak of the Steve Nicol era about a decade ago and Jermaine Jones was nearly the man who put the team over the top and hoist the team's first ever MLS Cup trophy. Sadly, just two years removed from that title game run the Revs might have squandered the goodwill with their lackluster play this season and at the tail end of 2015.
BW: Did the fans embrace Jones, or were there areas that they struggled in that regard?
TBM: I think everyone initially embraced Jones, not only because he was a USMNT caliber player or that he's a tremendous character on and off the field, but it signaled to the fanbase that the Revs might be turning a corner as far as building their roster. New England has never been a team that spent a lot of money, but the drafted well and build really solid teams for a long time but in the Designated Player era of MLS they started to fall behind on the field. Jones' signing was, at the time, a very big signal that the Krafts were willing to spend big money to get talent.
After the club traded Jones to Colorado most fans fell into two camps: The Revs should've signed Jones regardless of salary or The Revs can't spend DP money on a guy who might play 10 games in 2016. Hindsight is 20/20 and we can argue if the Revs made a good decision on Jones for the next decade and still never know. But I do believe Jones will always be remembered for that stellar half season/playoff run in 2014. But he wasn't rewarded for that when his contract was up, New England focused on his dismal 2015 where he missed most of the season and this shocked absolutely no one who has followed the Revs (or Patriots) over the years.
Did Jones burn significant bridges with the NE FO? In what way?
TBM: The Jermaine Jones offseason saga didn't do either side any favors. The Revs front office/organization have a fairly well known frugalness about where they spend money and if they determined Jones wasn't worth what he was asking then Jones was a goner. Jones taking his contract talks to Twitter and social media is practically unheard of in Foxboro because it usually means Belichick cuts you the next day. But Jones is a character, a strong personality on and off the field and there are moments where you have to take the good with the bad and this was certainly one of them. The Revs aren't a team that really leaks a lot of information about players, so the only side of the negotiations on a new contract were things that Jones mentioned, usually on social media, which must always be taken with a grain of salt.
Did the Revs lowball Jones on their contract offer last offseason? According to Jones, yes, and his comments while signing with Colorado certainly are things we've heard ex-players say in the past about the organization. Personally, I think Jones would've been welcomed back with open arms but only if the Revs could get him on a TAM-level contract. Then again, I have a terrible history of Jermaine Jones takes and should retire from the subject altogether
BW: Jones' time in NE ended with his confrontation with a referee that brought on a six-time suspension. What was the takeaway from the fans on this?
TBM: Two things. One, Sean Franklin of DC United committed a handball and Mark Geiger missed it. This is a fact as far as New England is concerned. However...
You can't sprint halfway across the field at a referee and make contact with him and not expect to get tossed and serve a lengthy suspension for it. There was a lot of speculation as to how much the suspension would factor into Jones' contract negotiations, if at all, and it certainly didn't help his case in New England. But again, you have to take the good with the bad. Jones' passion is an asset, however, it will get him into trouble and he will rack up yellow cards and have to miss games occasionally for accumulation suspensions.
After missing so many games due to injury, a six-game suspension to start this season definitely had a few fans leaving the Jones bandwagon. And the rationale about paying your big-money players to not play will never be wrong. But for a team like New England that has rarely spent money over the years, there were many, myself included, that figured an exception would be made. To the surprise of no one, we were wrong, and if we're being honest I think the Revs got a good haul of MLS stuff in return for Jones. Was it what the fan base wanted? Probably not, but it was better than nothing.
So what do you think, Rapids fans? How did that tweet hit you? Is Jones worth the baggage that comes? Did he really make that big a difference for nine games? Is he the type of leader Rapids fans want?