If Mike Magee was really holding out, as one Chicago outlet reported last week, would he have told us? Would he just return from his holdout, step up to the tape recorders, and give a mea culpa, if he could otherwise avoid it?
After the reigning Major League Soccer Most Valuable Player addressed the media on Monday, that question remains a hypothetical, and not only because the veteran forward is back with the Fire. Claiming personal reasons prevented him from joining Frank Yallop’s team in Arizona, Magee denied his absence represented a hold out.
General Manager Brian Bliss had previously said Magee was excused from training in Tuscon, Ariz., but in the wake of reporting by the Daily Herald, speculation Magee was holding out began to grow. After an MVP season, the 29-year-old will be Chicago’s fifth-highest paid player, with the MLS Players Union reporting his 2013 base salary was $185,000.
With the team returning to the Windy City from Tucson on Sunday, Monday gave Magee his first chance to respond to the hold out story. From training, Magee explained he’d been allowed to miss camp for personal reasons that have been resolved:
“I don’t know who told you that, but no one told me that,” Magee said. “I was not holding out …
“Preseason’s obviously a pretty important time, and missing a couple of weeks with the guys was hard, but getting back in here it’s a little better. As much as I want to be with the guys, I don’t mind missing some running and all that.”
The Fire are continuing to work with Magee on a new deal, one for which the trade of Austin Berry is supposed to have made salary cap room. But given Magee’s profile, his 2013 salary and production, and the impending importance of negotiations for the players’ new collective bargaining agreement, there were a lot of small reasons why a hold out made sense.
All of which brings us back to where we started. If Mike Magee really was holding out, would he or the Fire necessarily tell us? It’s not exactly a fair question, but in the wake of last week’s rumors, it’s one that lingers.