Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dominik's legacy rests with new Buc Revis

TAMPA

Even at first glance, you can see the stardom rise off of Darrelle Revis.

He strides into the interview room — without a limp, by the way — and the room is his. He is happy, and he is rich, and he is a Buccaneer. From the moment he leans into the mike with his soft voice and his hard eyes, he has the crowd in his grasp.

He also holds the answer to Mark Dominik's career.

This is Dominik's legacy. What you think of the Bucs general manager in the end will probably be defined by Revis.

If the cornerback is great again, if he can return from knee surgery to become one of the finest defensive players in the NFL, if he can stay a happy camper, if he can lead the Bucs back to the playoffs, this will be reason to applaud. After all, Tampa Bay is hungry to be relevant again, and if this is the signing that did it, then everyone will cheer Dominik's name.

On the other hand, if this doesn't work, if Revis becomes as big a headache here as he became in New York, if his knee reduces him to the ordinary, if the $16 million a year is wasted and the draft picks are squandered, then Revis' name might be mentioned on Dominik's epitaph.

At this point, those are the risks. Dominik understands that. It's a league about winning and losing and taking your chances and spending your bosses' money. In Tampa Bay, it is time to win. The trade for Revis trumpets that.

And all of that said, Dominik could not stop smiling Monday afternoon.

Oh, did he chase Revis. Every day, he worked the phone, and he worked the price, and he lived in the headlines. For 90 days — and it seems like longer — Dominik chased the chance to acquire Revis. What's the line from The Fugitive? "Every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in the area." Yeah, it was something like that.

The rest of us might have thrown up our hands. The Jets wanted too much. There was the issue with his surgically repaired knee. The money was staggering.

And still, Dominik hung in there.

There were the free agent cornerbacks. None of them was Revis, but there was Sean Smith and Brent Grimes and the rest. The fan base would have loved any of them and their overhyped abilities.

And still, Dominik hung in there.

"You win with starters and stars," Dominik said Monday. And there is truth to that. On his own, Revis is a difference-maker. He affects every offense, and every coordinator in the league. You think Drew Brees didn't notice this trade? You think Matt Ryan didn't notice? You think Cam Newton didn't notice?

Dominik referred to Revis as "a known commodity." He called him "the best defensive player in the NFL." He called him "elite."

In other words, Dominik is all-in on this one. How much more in do you have to be than $96 million for a nonquarterback?

Oh, admit it. Dominik didn't have to do this. He could have pulled up at the end. He could have given up, moaned about the price and talked about how great the 13th overall pick in the draft was going to be. And pretty much, everyone would have bought it. He could have signed one or two of the corners on the market, and everyone would have been happy.

Instead, he patiently pursued greatness right up until he got it. There is something to say for that.

The money? You don't care about the money. No one cares about the money because it isn't ours. The draft picks? What are the chances the 13th pick turns out to be another Revis? The knee? Dominik believes Revis will be ready for training camp, let alone the season opener. More important, he and Revis believe it will be the same old Revis, the man who is an island.

"People are going to sit here and say, 'How is he going to perform?' " Revis said. " 'How is he going to play? Is he going to be like he was before?' I understand all of that."

And a bit later: "I think I'm a great player."

For Dominik, for every general manager, every day is a piece of the legacy. That's why they don't last very long.

Only nine other general managers have held their jobs longer than Dominik — including owners Jerry Jones (Dallas) and Mike Brown (Cincinnati) — and he has a 24-40 record to show for it. He brought in Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks and Dashon Goldson and Doug Martin and Lavonte David. Alas, he brought in Brian Price and Arrelious Benn and Myron Lewis and re-signed Michael Clayton.

Never, however, has Dominik chased a player so furiously, and never has he paid so much to get him. Yeah, this is high-risk stuff, but isn't it better than sitting on your hands?

That said, it is time to succeed. There is a lot of talent in this locker room these days. Yes, it should be enough to reach the playoffs.

Isn't that where the best legacies are formed?

 
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