Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brunell Should Be Commended for Taking Less

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brunell Should Be Commended for Taking Less

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

When Mark Brunell played behind an injury-decimated offensive line and got sacked an NFL-record 38 times in the first half of last season, he accepted the punishment as a reluctant byproduct of playing a violent game.

But for the Jaguars' quarterback to endure the beating that his solid image has taken over a prolonged contract negotiation shows that Jacksonville still has a long way to go as an NFL city. Will someone please explain how Brunell can take less money than he's worth and still get vilified as a greedy, self-centered human being?

Granted, it's hard for people to understand why an athlete is disappointed over settling for a four-year, $30 million extension and an $8 million signing bonus. But the overwhelming animosity toward Brunell in the past couple of months is as misguided as a Rick Ankiel curveball.

"It's part of my job to deal with criticism, but it's frustrating to deal with [accusations of] being selfish and greedy," Brunell said.

There were bumper stickers that actually said: "Save The Jaguars, Sell Brunell." An Internet poll by a local television station revealed that 89 percent were unhappy that he stayed with the Jaguars.

Oh, like the Jaguars would automatically have a brighter future with Charlie Batch, Trent Dilfer or Drew Brees under center. If you asked any NFL team to trade their starting quarterback for Brunell right now without altering the salary cap, a minimum of 25 would do it without hesitation.

If you're going to brand Brunell as a villain, at least do him the courtesy of seeing the big picture.

All he's done is lead the Jaguars to two AFC Championship games, continually give time to charitable causes and has been a poster boy for clean living. Yet because he sought market value for his services, suddenly Brunell is the epitome of selfishness and the antithesis of a team player? …

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