Few people were more confused by the strange and streaky slide that brought about the New York Jets’ season-ending collapse to 8-8 than Rex Ryan and the New York Jets. Something about dropping three straight games in December with a playoff spot a mere win away doesn’t sit right in the one-track mind of the average NFLer. It’s not part of their makeup to accept that kind of news graciously, and they are notoriously bad tempered when the snow starts to fall. Being down by two with two to play to the then 5-10 Dolphins in the last game of the season is just the type of thing that might send one of them over the edge, and the fallout will inevitably take the form of a very public display of dissension and all the free and wild finger-pointing you can pack into a 22-second postgame clip or the expanded prattle of a 22-minute bit on ESPN’s First Take.
Which is a whole lot of time. For a team that’s spent the better part of the past four years stuck in neutral, never finishing above or below second in AFC East and dropping two championship games in an alarmingly awful fashion, 22 minutes is an eternity. Loose lips could sink a lot of ships in 22 minutes of uninterrupted airtime, which is more than we would ever consider giving anyone on the New York Jets if stupidity and slander weren’t the lifeblood of the little entertainment boxes that rule the world.
As it stands, the 22 minutes they were given was more than enough time to un-suture any old wounds, to dig up whatever dirt a summer’s worth of felony arrests and assaults had all but buried for the sideshow that was the 2011 New York Jets. Indeed, 22 minutes was almost enough time for Antonio Cromartie to list of all of his kids (ten with eight different women living in six different states, with two more on the way) and still have time to undercut an already-suspect receiving corps.
“I think I'd put myself as second [on the WR depth chart]. I can put myself as the second just with raw ability and talent.”
Cromartie, for the record, is a cornerback whose primary function is to cover wideouts, not become one. And given the track record of self-aggrandizing backs, his one-off shot was probably said in sheer reverence of himself. But put in front of a frothing media frenzy, we could hardly help foaming at the mouth over the potential for mutiny and the smell of fresh blood in the headlines.
Flash back seven months to the insurrection of Santonio Holmes, who in all likelihood spent at least a few weeks parked outside the homes of Cromartie and Mark Sanchez with burlap sacks, a taser, a little bottle of chloroform and a grudge. He’s unhinged for sure and he shot his mouth off to everyone in earshot about the inadequacy of the offensive line, the laziness of Mark Sanchez and the all-around underappreciated greatness of Santonio Holmes. But his comments were less grounded in startling accuracy than they were in egomaniacal infatuation. Had someone thrown the ball to Santonio Holmes a few more times during the regular season, Santonio Holmes might not have orchestrated such an elaborate offseason smear campaign.
Ditto Cromartie, whose comments seem to be less about the less-than-talented New York Jets’ wideouts and more about the raw physical genius of Antonio Cromartie. But that would be too simplistic a storyline to sufficiently stoke the flames of the football fires. With all the bloodletting that ensued post-collapse in New York, we needed something with a little more substance, something a little more seditious than “Antonio Cromartie Thinks Antonio Cromartie Is Great.”
After all, sedition sells; making mountains out of molehills is what this sports media thing is all about. It’s what we do best.