BETHLEHEM, PA. -- The simple statement from Titans running back Chris Johnson, projected across the 21st century megaphone that is Twitter, said so much more than the words themselves would indicate.
"Just got off the phone (sic) wit @DeseanJackson10 real recognize real," Johnson recently tweeted.
So it will begin. Johnson's looming holdout has been expected for months. On Thursday morning, DeSean Jackson's holdout will become official as well.
Both players are entering the fourth season of their respective careers. Each has made chump change when on-field production is juxtaposed against their paychecks. The two game-changers, Johnson and Jackson, are making $800,000 and $565,000 in 2010, respectively. And neither plans to take that for a day longer.
No matter the result, plenty of folks will be watching, given the new labor rules now in place for this year and the nine seasons to follow.
The biggest change, of course, is that clubs can now fine a player $30,000 per missed day during a holdout, well above the previous standard of $16,523 that was in place last season. It means that it would take Jackson 19 working days to eclipse what he's due to make in fines if he were to keep his protest going.
There's also the 30-day rule, which prevents players from accruing a year toward free agency if they don't show to camp at least 30 days before the regular season. That's a point that's crucial for players like Johnson and Jackson, who need one more credited season to get to unrestricted free agency.
They each have their reasons, outside of just wanting to stuff their pockets. Johnson has 768 touches the last two seasons, and tailbacks only last so long at that rate. Jackson had concussion issues last season, and his slight frame raises durability concerns.
Will the fight be worth it?
The rule changes have already had an effect on the decision by college players to return to school or declare early. The new rules will add depth to that decision, by hitting guys on the other end of their rookie contracts.
Contract re-negotiation will only be allowed after Year 3, which will likely take care of some of the grousing (Jackson complained a little last summer) that some young players do. But it also could set a marker for players to go guerrilla on their teams.
Can Jackson and Johnson stand their ground? Is it worth it for the players to burn an accrued season for immediate cash?
The answer will probably give you an idea of how many players will handle matters like this for some time to come.