By Kristian Dyer
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It will either be an act of kindness or the kind of move that will have locker room repercussions for this season and perhaps years to come.
Last Tuesday, the Jets claimed wide receiver Braylon Edwards off waivers, bringing back a former Jet who perhaps never should have been allowed to leave the organization. But a week before he was picked up off waivers from Seattle, Edwards called Jets management “idiots” in a tweet where he attempted to defend quarterback Mark Sanchez from criticism. Edwards later retracted the tweet and has since said everything right in his return to New York.
But it sends a dangerous message to the rest of the locker room and may not be worthwhile, even if Edwards can defy logic and make an impact on the field.
Tonight, Edwards may or may not play for the Jets as he continues to battle with a hamstring injury that his former coaching staff in Seattle said might cost him the rest of the regular season. But what hurts even more is that the Jets were so willing to take back a player in Edwards who just took a shot at them and called the team’s decision makers “idiots.” It sets a bad precedent for the other players in that locker room that you can disregard and be disrespectful of management and the coaching staff but if you can run a good route and catch the ball, it doesn’t matter.
Things have been quiet in the Jets locker room this year, perhaps surprisingly quiet. Remember this is a team just a season removed from almost weekly upheaval and players calling out their teammates on the back page of New York’s daily newspapers. There has been relative peace outside of an anonymous source story that hit last month, blasting the team’s backup quarterback. Outside of that disturbance which most in the locker room said was a non-issue and didn’t even happen, the Jets have been a relative model of tranquility.
So why bring in a player who blasted his former employer, just days before being signed by them?
What this says is that the Jets are far more interested in winning than character issues within their own locker room. But with one locker room cancer of a wide receiver removed from the picture this year due to a Lisfranc injury, the Jets don’t need another player driven by his own selfish desires and certainly not one who takes very public shots against the team.
Bringing in Edwards undermines the entire core of what this team has been built on this year. While a 6-7 record is nothing to brag about, the Jets are doing it with their best players on either side of the ball down for the season due to injury as well as with plenty of other injuries to key players such as tight end Dustin Keller, wide receiver Stephen Hill and linebacker Bart Scott as well. In addition, they’ve overcome a messed and muddled quarterback situation with a starter who statistically is the worst in the league.
And how did they do it? Through hard work and unity.
Nowhere on the Jets team this year was the type of attitude that came out in Edwards’ tweet – no condescending or snide remarks undermining the team mentality that is being rebuilt at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center after last year’s toxicity. Instead, this Jets team has been marked by unselfishness and camaraderie, a tight-knit locker room that is apparent to anyone who steps into it, no matter if the team won or lost the week before.
But the Jets are letting it be known that if you can find success on the football field than the other things don’t matter. They say the right things about Edwards – that he is a great teammate and hardworking and can add a lot to the team. Yet for the younger players in particular, bringing him back after his recent comments says all the wrong things.
There is a lot of youth on this Jets team, rookies and second-year players who will see Edwards and his “idiots” comments and take that it is acceptable to fire away at the people who sign their paycheck. They will see that there are no consequences in Florham Park – that the individual is bigger than the team. The Jets moved away from this selfish attitude last year and somehow, someway, are still in the playoff hunt because the team and not the stars came first this year.
Now they risk throwing it all away — and will look like idiots if this backfires.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and also contributes to Yahoo! Sports. He can be followed on Twitter here for insight, news and snarky comments.
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