January 9, 2012
The New York Jets have ambled into even more locker room controversy from public comments made in the media. they have made for themselves with their mediocre play on the football field. Greg McElroy, the fourth string quarterback of the Jets, made controversial comments about the team that have the sports media world on fire. Former NFL players, sports reporters, and fans of football are lambasting him for breaking the National Football League code of silence. He made these comments:
“Oh, (it’s) definitely not a fun place to be, I can assure you. It’s…it’s the first time I’ve ever been around extremely selfish individuals. And I think that maybe that’s 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 got their… (as long as) they had a good game individually. And that’s the disappointing thing. And uh, it’s going to take a lot to try to come together next year. And, I think the fact that we struggled at times this year really led to a really…uh…just corrupt mindset within the locker room.”
Greg McElroy told the truth about his team. The media asked him a question and he answered honestly. The New York Jets were obviously in great internal turmoil this season, and it showed on the field. Their stout defense was porous at times this year, and their offense played without an identity all year. In fact, their team had no identity. The team philosophy of “ground and pound” was replaced by a poorly executed air attack. The only piece of the pie that was missing was why the team had eroded so quickly.
McElroy filled in the answer for us all. The selfishness and destructive qualities of Santonio Holmes has been well documented over this season and in countless other years. In this year, he has been called immature, selfish, and lazy. Some of his teammates think that Holmes quit on them during the season. He has been called a bad locker room guy well before his tenure with the Jets. His attitude made made him expendable in Pittsburgh, his former team, the year after he made one of the most memorable, most celebrated, and difficult catches in Super Bowl History. McElroy’s comments are thought to have been directed at least partially at Holmes. However, he spoke of the whole team as selfish and accused the NFL of possibly cultivating the egocentric attitude.
McElroy was was probably right about the Jets. They are one of the few teams that has talent at each level of their offense and defense. They have All-Pro wide receivers, linemen, linebackers, and the best cornerback in the league, yet they are not in the playoffs. The disconnect between talent and achievement usually points to discordance in the locker room. But, McElroy over stepped his bounds by commenting about the state of the team to the media. If Darrelle Revis, the best corner in the league and the franchise player of the Jets made the same comments, then he would be applauded for challenging his teammates. If Mark Sanchez, the embattled starting quarterback of the Jets made the same comment, then he would be leading and rallying his team after an underachieving season. But when the fourth string rookie quarterback, a guy who managed games at the college level, and barely made the team as a pro says the same thing, no one on the team listens. In addition to not understanding how small his role is with the team and ignoring the code of the locker room, he waited until the end of the season when he was back in Alabama to make his comments rather than speaking them in front of the team. Waiting to criticize his teammates makes his statements seem cowardly and self-serving rather than honest and honorable. He alienated himself from the team and ensured that no veteran on the Jets would ever follow him.
McElroy did tell the truth, but he made a terrible decision. He compromised his position on his team, threw his teammates under the proverbial bus, and may have talked himself out of the league by commenting publicly on an in-house problem. Being right is not the same thing as making the right decision, as McElroy now knows.