New York Jets running back Joe McKnight was arrested last week for outstanding traffic warrants, according to multiple media reports. McKnight paid his fines and was released after less than an hour in police custody, according to the Hanover Township Police.
This news comes at a very inopportune time for both McKnight and the Jets, as the team is short on running backs and is preparing for its preseason opener Friday against the Detroit Lions. Both McKnight and starting running back Chris Ivory have missed time with injuries, and Mike Goodson has yet to report to camp due to his own legal issues.
McKnight is competing for a roster spot this season, and it was thought that his kickoff return abilities would get him on the team. However, his arrest could place that in jeopardy. Of course, these are very minor infractions, and they certainly pale in comparison to the drug and weapons charges Goodson is facing.
However, GM John Idzik previously cut two players for minor legal transgressions this offseason, so he has shown some inclination towards a zero-tolerance policy. The Jets and their players have a had a very negative reputation during Rex Ryan‘s tenure, and they are working to change the public perception of the team. Player arrests, no matter how minor, do not help that cause.
It is unlikely that McKnight will be made a scapegoat and be released from the team. However, he could face internal punishment in the form of a fine or short suspension. Furthermore, this issue only adds to the running back difficulties the team faces. The Jets are trying to rebuild the position, and they need players in camp focused on playing football. Injuries and legal issues are making that very difficult.
These types of outside issues and distractions have plagued the Jets recently, and they need to stop. This team has enough problems on the football field, and they certainly don’t need to add off-the-field issues.