Chances are, by now you have heard about Manish Mehta’s article in yesterday’s edition of the Daily News quoting several anonymous Jets players and members describing Mark Sanchez as “lazy and content” (among other things) and expressing interest in signing Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, should he be healthy and available.
The Daily News article has been dissected to death by just about everyone and we can argue the validity of the comments all we want. But honestly, that really isn’t the issue it is? If it was, it wouldn’t be quite so controversial. People have been discussing Mark Sanchez’s present and future career for years. The idea that he might not be the future for this team isn’t even news anymore. So then why are we so up in arms over these revelations? Because it’s about so much more.
The real problem here is that a group of players, under the guise of anonymity, unloaded personal frustrations and opinions to a member of the media with little concern for what effect those comments might have not only on their quarterback, but on the entire team. That instead of trying to fix the problem, they just added to it.
Much like with the McElroy comments, people have a number of opinions on the idea of speaking with the media about what goes on in the locker room.
People were mostly split on how appropriate it was for McElroy to be so candid; Many applauded him for “speaking the truth,” while others felt “it wasn’t his place.” Few, if any, argued that there wasn’t truth to what he said but one thing you can say for sure : McElroy at least had the balls not to hide behind anonymity. And moreover, McElory, though we can safely assume we knew who he was referring to, did not name names. And for those reasons, regardless or whether or not there will be fallout for his comments, McElroy can go home and night and know he wasn’t a coward. Because the rest of these guys are.
If I may get off topic for one second to address a problem that is becoming all too commonplace in today’s media : The concept of anonymous sources.
The idea of citing anonymous sources or dropping bombs in an article brought to us by a nameless, faceless comment or insinuation that for all we know could be your Aunt Sally or your neighbors Golden Retriever, has become a very common practice. And while it is commonplace in journalism today, that doesn’t make it acceptable. I am not here to judge Mehta; he did his job, but I do think its high time we started, as an audience, demanding higher standards of morality from today’s media. And not just in regards to sports media, but all media. We are obsessed with gossip and we act like athletes and celebrities are something other than normal human beings and in turn, they respond to that treatment. They act above the law and above (actually, mostly below) society’s standards.
But, I digress and more importantly, I cannot blame Mehta for writing the article. It is his job to get the scoop; something he consistently does and does well. As they say, don’t shoot the messenger. Or whatever.
Speaking of people doing their jobs, I know the NFL is a business. And it’s a hard one. And once again I will get back to the idea that football players are real people. They are trying their support their families, send their children to college and make a living. The system is set up so that statistical accomplishments, playoff wins and endoresment deals (which generally result from winning games) help individuals achieve these goals, both financial and personal.
Moreover, athletes are competitors. They want to win. That should be a “no, duh” but let’s just point it out, because it’s relevant to this conversation.
With that, I suppose it is difficult to contain your emotions when you feel that you have done your part to contribute to a winning season and from where you sit, one person has not. You might also see that same person getting what you perceive to be “special treatment.”
And I also I suppose it’s difficult to hold back when you are pressed to answer the same question over and over and over again about said person or said season. At some point, you are probably going to boil over and say something you should not and likely, normally would not (And here is where the journalistic intergrity thing creeps in…you don’t think journalists know this? This is why they press and press. They LIVE for the day when someone boils over).
And suppose the precedent has been set that you can just run our mouths to the media and act like bratty children without any real consequence because after all, one of your team captains has done just that all season and nothing is happening to him? (Supposedly? Allegedly? But wait, I thought you were mad at the QB for his special treatment? Eh, nevermind, I just tried to make this make sense).
I have just made a list of reasons why a player might go tell it on the mountain. But not a single one of these reasons is a valid excuse.
None of them change the fact that the kind of person that is able to sell out a teammate to the media with a laundry list of things that they have done wrong, without accepting one ounce of personal responsibility, needs to take a good hard look at themselves and the kind of person they are and they want to be. I don’t care if you were pressed or if you are frustrated or if you see some other person being treated in a way that you think isn’t “fair.”
One, two, four, or seven or eleventy billion wrongs don’t make a right. You aren’t making it better, you are making it infinitely worse.
I’m obviously not the only one who feels this way, because in the past 24 or so hours. several respected Jets players have come out in support on Sanchez and to condemn those who provided material for Mehta’s article. Those players include Gerald Alexander, Antonio Cromartie, Sione Pouha, Jim Leonhard, Marquice, Matt Slauson, Marcus Dixon and Nick Mangold.
Here is what a few of them had to say, via Twitter (aka, the opposite of being anonymous):
It’s easy to get off into more a tangent about whether or not Mehta’s article was indeed “false” but I think what Mangold means to say is that the idea that the entire “team” feels this way about Mark is false. Gerald Alexander had some words for Mehta, regarding the validity of his sources, but I dont honestly believe that Mehta credited this (and I dont know that was what Alexander was saying exactly). However, I do believe he stirred a serious pot of
But let’s stay on topic.
These guys, who, if you closely examine the list, are considered to be the leaders of the team, Mangold in particular. And these are the kind of guys that the locker room needs to lead and change the attitude and culture. Their actions and their conduct should be the rule, not the exception. We should be talking about them, and the wonderful examples that they set, and they way the treat their teammates. Not these other selfish cowards.
Perhaps these gentlemen I have applauded do feel that Sanhez needs to improve, much like the players quoted in the Daily News suggest. But let’s not forget that the decision about the quarterback position is not the players to make. It is the decision of the owner, GM and head coach. I know it must be frustrating for Santonio Holmes (I know, easy example) or whomever to accept that the person who is throwing him the ball is not of the caliber that he desires. And again, since he is a “real person” I will make a comparison: In my profession, and I am assuming yours, I have been forced to work with people I did not feel were good at their job. But that doesn’t change that I have a job to do and if I ran and told the world I though that person sucked at their job I would probably be FIRED.
And this is what it really comes down to : Everything that we know suggests that Mark Sanchez IS going to be the quarterback next season. So, why do this? Why make things infinitely harder on your QB, your teammates and your fan base? There is this age old concept that teaches us you get a lot more in life with honey than vinegar so here’s an idea : Why don’t you boys, instead of trying to bury this kid into futher suckiness, try to do everything you can to help? OR, if you are “so concerned” over his lack of development and how it effect you, why don’t you take it up with your head coach? Or ask to be traded?
Thankfully, Jets owner Woody Johnson finally broke his silence on the matter and took the opportunity to comment on the controversy surrounding his team this morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Johnson defended Sanchez’s work ethic: saying, “First guy in building every morn, last guy to leave.” He also added that the team has a lot of work to do. And he aint kidding.
So where do you begin? How do you fix a locker room approximately 1/3 full of people (I’m told it was about 1/3 of the players) that refuse to stand behind their quarterback, have shown no desire to step and be leaders and improve the situation, and instead prefer to throw that teammate “Under the bus” and hope that makes it go away? Or get better? Or help them get Peyton Manning (which isn’t happening, by the way).
Yeah — Mark Sanchez and his “regression” in 2011 is of GREAT concern but what these guys have done is potentially more damaging. You can’t even begin get to work on the things that need improvement on the field until you fix this disaster off the field.
So Rex Ryan, Mike Tannenbaum, Woody Johnson and any other person that wants to grow a pair needs to get this shit under control. This is disgusting. The Jets are beyond the laughing stock of the league right now and they had better get themselves to Scout camp, get their trust falls on and figure this out or you can forget about winning.