FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — On Friday afternoon, all Todd Bowles could do was laugh.
But nobody was smiling, laughing or joking around last year when the Jets lost, 41-3, to the Patriots on the day before Christmas.
The loss secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs for the Patriots and completed a two-game sweep of the Jets.
For Bowles, it was just one more game before the end of a disastrous 5-11 season and, more importantly, his recovery from a health scare.
Bowles didn’t leave with the team that Friday before the game because of kidney and gall bladder issues. He still made the trip, arriving the morning of the game, only to watch the Jets get embarrassed.
With the Jets and Patriots meeting again Sunday, Bowles laughed Friday when asked his memories of that day.
“It was tough, but it helped me get to where I am right now from a health standpoint, so it’s good.”
After that game, Bowles said his kidney stones and gallstones “got stuck in the pipe. Lot of pain, and it kind of went from there.”
Yet Bowles maintained he needed to make the trip to Foxborough for a meaningless game.
“It’s my job,” he said. “I’m not going to let my team down.”
For several Jets players, it was just one component of what happened that miserable day, but they gained respect for their coach.
“It shows you what kind of leader he is,” defensive tackle Steve McLendon said. “It don’t matter what it is or what he’s going through, he’s going to be there for his team. That’s always an honor and pleasure to play for and with a guy that loves this game, not only loves this game, but his teammates, his players, he loves his coaches. It shows you what type of character he has, what kind of standard he holds himself to. Be there regardless of the circumstances.”