Two Jets took direct swipes at Brett Favre over the holiday.
The first was from a guy who did not even have the guts to put his name to a quote.
"There was a lot of resentment in the room about him," a Jets player told Newsday yesterday. He requested anonymity because team owner Woody Johnson has stated publicly that Favre is welcome to return next season if he wants to.
"He never socialized with us, never went to dinner with anyone," the player said. Asked to describe Favre in a word, he said: "Distant."
According to the player - and he was backed by very supportive comments about Mangini from other Jets - very few in the room thought Mangini deserved to be fired, and that the acquisition of Favre and his subsequent "me-first" attitude hurt the Jets more than anything.
"Eric," he said, "wasn't the reason we didn't make the playoffs."
There is a lot to digest here. It is sheer cowardice to rip a teammate so vocally and not even put one's name to the comment. Dirty laundry like this should also never leave the locker room. This kind of thing should be handled in house. Favre was terrible down the stretch, but he did not make the bad in-game decisions and come up with lousy gameplans the last five weeks. Eric Mangini did. Blame for the collapse is not an "either/or" proposition regarding Mangini and Favre. Both stunk. To say the head coach bears no responsibility for such an epic fall is absurd. Also, who cares whether a guy goes out to dinner?
This guy even contradicts himself.
"If [Favre] was hurt by that stuff, I'd be shocked, because Eric barely said anything to him," the player said. "Guys would be getting called out for missed assignments or blown coverages, and Brett would have three picks and no one would say a word."
The quarterback keeps making killer mistakes, and the head coach expresses no dissatisfaction. This is good coaching? This is a guy not responsible at all for the team's bad play?
Thomas Jones also expressed frustration with his quarterback on a local radio station.
"We're a team and we win together ... but at the same time, you can't turn the ball over and expect to win," Jones said in a videotaped studio interview. "The other day, the three interceptions really hurt us. I mean, that's just reality. If I were to sit here and say, 'Oh, man, it's okay,' that's not reality.
"The reality is, you throw interceptions, I'm (ticked) off, I don't like it. You know what I'm saying? I don't like it, I know everybody else on the team doesn't like it."
At that point, the show's host, Angie Martinez, asked the AFC's leading rusher if teammates start to look "funny style" at a player that makes that many mistakes.
"If somebody is not playing well, they need to come out of the game," Jones replied. "You're jeopardizing the whole team because you're having a bad day. To me, that's not fair to everybody else. You're not the only one on the team."
"So it gets like that?" Martinez interjected.
"It definitely gets like that," Jones said. "You're playing to win, you're playing for the Super Bowl. That's what you do all this work for ... So when you get to the wire and somebody is just giving the game up, I mean, it's just not (fair)."
Unlike his unnamed teammate, a lot of what Jones says is substantively accurate. However, this again is poor judgment. If he truly believes it is a team, Jones should realize that they win and lose together and not single others out, especially when speaking of a game in which he ran for 23 yards. Mangini is also not pulling a first ballot Hall of Famer from a critical game to put in an unproven commodity like Kellen Clemens for his first significant action all season.
There is an evident leadership vacuum on this team. The leaders on a football team are supposed to be the coach and the quarterback. Both did terrible jobs down the stretch. Now sniping and airing dirty laundry in public is becoming accepted. Some of the reasons for the Jets' collapse are becoming evident.