The Jets’ locker room detonated before the season even ended, and Santonio Holmes pushed the red button that made the boom. He sat sulking on the sidelines after being benched and drawing the ire of his teammates in the final minutes of a two-point Week 17 loss to Miami that ensured a long offseason and an 8-8 record. Since then unnamed teammates and sources have said that Holmes returning to the Jets in 2012 is nearly impossible because he’s acted like a 10-year-old.
Throw in reports of a clash between Holmes and his quarterback Mark Sanchez prior to the Miami game, and it’s now clear that the disintegration in the Jets’ locker room is deep rooted.
Yet somehow, the circus of immaturity and petulance became worse today, or at least worse than what you’re thinking, even though that seemed impossible.
During an interview with 97.5 The Zone in Alabama, backup quarterback Greg McElroy said that he went through more than just the usual rookie culture shock after being selected in the seventh round last April. McElroy likely would have spent the season slotted behind Sanchez on the Jets’ quarterback depth chart, but a dislocated thumb in their preseason finale ended his season prematurely.
The injury didn’t prevent him from being around the locker room, though, and McElroy didn’t enjoy his experience inside those evidently uncomfortable confines.
The highlights from the interview feature use of the words “corrupt” and “selfish”:
“It’s the first time I’ve ever been around extremely selfish individuals, and I think that’s maybe the nature of the NFL, but there were people within our locker room that didn’t care whether we won or lost as long as they had a good game individually.”
“It’s going to take a lot for us to come together next year. I think the fact that we struggled at times this year led to really a corrupt mindset within the locker room.”
“We had people that refused to buy in and I’m not sure if those people are gonna be here next year.”
The Jets’ offseason is only in Day 3, and McElroy’s description of the locker room falls in line with everything else we’ve been reading and hearing.
Rex Ryan may have left in tears, but this mess is his responsibility, and it’s the direct result of a flaw in his character, and his desire to brash, boisterous, and the league’s headset wearin’ bad boy/vastly overgrown child. When the leader is the class clown, it’s fun to hop in the clown car and ride around when everything’s going well, and wins are piling up. The result of Ryan’s clowning is that he’s created or at least contributed to the growth of a Ryan clone among his players who’s hijacked any sense of team unity, cohesion, and discipline.
From McElroy’s perspective, there’s one question that needs to be asked and answered: what were you thinking, young man?
There’s plenty of angst and apprehension surrounding Sanchez’s future in New York. If he continues to fall out of favor next year, McElroy may have an outside shot at making an impact, or at least making a meaningful on-field appearance. As it stands he was the 208th overall pick last spring, and he hasn’t taken a regular-season snap.
His comments are the kind that seem like a risky and ill-advised career move for a quarterback who nearly went undrafted. But maybe that’s just how deep the dysfunction is with Ryan’s gang of misfits. A rookie backup is aware of the impact of his words, and he’s been pushed so far that he just doesn’t care anymore.