Joe Namath is latest Jets QB to create controversy
At a time when NFL teams ought to be deep within their offseason preparations far from the media spotlight and off-field controversy, the Jets keep finding ways to do just the opposite.
Now it's the quarterbacks -- past and present -- fueling the latest drama that continues to ensnare a team that has been on a downward spiral the last two years and shows no signs of emerging from the quagmire.
Start with the most important quarterback in franchise history, who detailed his increasingly strained relationship with the organization, due mostly to his outspoken criticism of the team in recent years. Joe Namath called his association with the team "clumsy," and suggested, as he did last year, that the Jets have been "deceptive" in characterizing the state of the team.
"I find it deceptive when you are getting players for reasons other than winning football games," Namath told Newsday's Tom Rock Thursday, referring to the team's signing of Tim Tebow. It was Tebow who came to the team with great fanfare last year, but was barely used in his role as Wildcat quarterback and was released after the draft.
"I just have had problems with some of the explanations and unexplained moves over the last couple of years."
He's not the only one. Jets fans have been justifiably skeptical, if not outright enraged, by the stunning fall from grace of a team that only two years ago was playing in its second consecutive AFC Championship Game. The bottom fell out quickly, as the Jets went 8-8 and missed the playoffs in 2011 and then 6-10 last season, when Mark Sanchez's "butt fumble" on Thanksgiving night against the Patriots symbolized the team's futility.
Sanchez is still here, in large part because his $8.25-million guaranteed salary has forced the Jets to hold on to him for at least one more year. And so is rookie Geno Smith, the second-round pick who is now in the news for reasons other than what he has done on the field. Smith recently changed agents and decided to hire the firm Roc Nation Sports, which has created a partnership with rapper Jay-Z. Roc Nation is now under investigation by the NFL Players Association, which is concerned that Jay-Z may have broken the union's rules that prohibit agents from having colleagues or friends who are not certified by the NFLPA from recruiting players.
Smith appeared unfazed about the inquiry. "I don't have any concerns," Smith said. "Jay-Z didn't recruit me."
There's more quarterback head-scratchers because of the guy who isn't here. David Garrard was signed as a potential veteran stopgap until Smith is ready, but he didn't even last until now because of a bum knee. This after the Jets cleared him medically before signing him to a contract.
And perhaps the most disturbing off-field issue of all: Running back Mike Goodson was arrested two weeks ago in Denville, N.J., on drug possession and weapons charges. He remains with the team, at least for now.
Not a good start for new general manager John Idzik, who now gets to see firsthand the kind of off-field drama that in many ways prompted his hiring in January.
Idzik was brought in to change the culture around the Jets. Recent events suggest that process will be a long and painful one.