In the fallout of a disappointing 8-8 season, the New York Jets have been scrambling to do damage control after pointed comments about poor team chemistry and a divided locker room have leaked to the public.
It is part of the culture that head coach Rex Ryan has cultivated, a policy that encourages players to speak their mind and be honest with the media, but evidently that can sometimes backfire.
One Jets quarterback offered the strongest public criticism yet, and it wasn’t 25-year-old Mark Sanchez, but instead 23-year-old rookie Greg McElroy who revealed some of the harsh truths about the Jets locker room.
McElroy, a rookie 7th-round draft pick out who spent the entire regular season on injured reserve, offered some really pointed commentary on what it was like inside the Jets locker room on an Alabama radio station Wednesday.
“It’s definitely not a fun place to be,” McElroy told 97.3 The Zone radio in Alabama, about the mood in the locker room. “I can assure you.”
There had been whispers from anonymous players about the strained locker room chemistry earlier this week, but nobody offered a stronger indictment than McElroy.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever been around extremely selfish individuals,” he said. “I think that’s maybe the nature of the NFL. There were people within our locker room that didn’t care whether we won or lost. As long as they got their… they really had a good game individually. And that’s the disappointing thing.”
He did not name names, although it’s curious that he started to say “as long as they got their…” before amending his statement to “they had a really good game individually.” Could it be Santonio Holmes he was alluding to?
Whoever he specifically had on the mind, no doubt it’s something the Jets have to fix next season. They cannot go through another season with a fractured locker room. But that’s easier said than done.
“It’s going to take a lot to kind of come together next year,” McElroy said. “I think the fact that we struggled at times this year really led to a really corrupt mindset within the locker room.”
However, he did end these pointed comments on an optimistic note.
“I think we’re going to regroup,” he said. “I know that we’ll be a better team because of the trials and tribulations this year.”
Make no mistake, the young Alabama alum wasn’t trying to throw more fuel on the fire, and he certainly did not blame Rex Ryan for the chaotic environment in the locker room.
“I love Rex’s approach,” McElroy said. “I love the fact that he builds you up. I love the fact that he makes you feel confident. He believes in you. He believes in himself.”
“Quite frankly, if you go down the roster this year, there is no reason why we shouldn’t have made a Super Bowl run,” he said. “The talent top to bottom is pretty remarkable. The disappointing thing is it doesn’t matter how much talent you have.”
“If you don’t come together as a group and figure things out and withstand the difficulties of the season, then you’re never going to amount to anything.”
Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum went on WFAN radio and downplayed McElroy’s comments, saying that while team chemistry was a problem, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it’s being made out to be.
“I don’t think we have a corrupt locker room,” Tannenbaum said. “Chemistry was certainly a factor. We haven’t denied that. Some of the things that happened this year can’t happen again.”
My question to my readers, and feel free to offer your take in the comment section below, is did Greg McElroy go too far? Was he right to speak his mind, or should he have kept it to himself?
I’ve noticed that there’s been a ton of different opinions on Twitter, with some people praising the youngster for speaking up, and others condemning him for airing out locker room grievances in public.
It’s a sticky situation, no doubt. It seems like most NFL players feel that he crossed the line, talking publicly about private matters. Some fans and writers agree, and some think McElroy did the right thing.
I think it’s a little bit of both quite frankly. McElroy is a well respected, high character guy according to those who know him. But I also think it would’ve been wise for him to bite his tongue on this one.
The Jets want to clean up their locker room, and I’m sure they’d have preferred that their players not fan the flames of this story any longer. However, if what McElroy is saying is true, that’s an even bigger problem.
Let me know in the comments section or tweet at me and let me know your take. Should McElroy have kept his mouth shut? Or did he only confirm things we already knew? Sound off. Was it fair or foul?