Surreal scene as Jets clean lockers, changes loom

By Dennis Waszak Jr.

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Jan. 2 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan pauses during a news conference in Florham Park, N.J., Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. The Jets lost to Miami on Sunday, ending their season.

Seth Wenig, Associated Press

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Rex Ryan stood in front of his team for one last time and teared up.

This wasn't exactly how the New York Jets pictured their season to end. But with his bold Super Bowl hopes dashed, Ryan couldn't help but get emotional.

"I'm Irish. What do you want?" Ryan said Monday, trying to lighten the mood. "It's hurtful and I'm extremely prideful. I want to be the best. I want to win. Sometimes it comes out like that."

He had what some players called a "harsh" talk, telling his guys they needed to get back to being a team and not just a group of individuals.

"He was crying because he loves us," guard Matt Slauson said Monday. "He respects us, he knows what we are capable of and we didn't even come close to our goals."

That's for sure. This was the year the Jets were going to deliver the franchise its long-awaited second Lombardi Trophy. Ryan guaranteed it. And after two straight trips to the AFC championship game, who could doubt the possibility?

But the Jets (8-8) never really put it together and it was a somewhat surreal setting a day after a loss at Miami ended a disappointing season as the players cleared out their lockers.

"It's not fun losing," quarterback Mark Sanchez said.

Added Slauson: "We're sick, we're disappointed and we're hurting a lot."

And Ryan placed the blame squarely on himself.

"I don't think I had the pulse of our team the way I've done in the past," he said. "When I met with players as well today, I think that became clear to me."

Several players were already gone when the media got to the locker room, and a few — including the normally media-friendly Darrelle Revis and Nick Folk — chose to not speak.

Linebacker Bart Scott bristled as he was walking out and was asked about a report that he likely wouldn't be back next season. "All I know is I've got a guaranteed contract for $4 million," he snarled. He then used an expletive at a photographer and stuck out his middle finger, adding: "Take a picture of this."

That wasn't all. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes, benched Sunday after arguing with teammates in the huddle, went to his locker, grabbed a box and a helmet and was then escorted out of the locker room by a public relations staff member without talking.

Holmes was still the hot topic Monday after he was yanked by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer — a move Ryan supported, but didn't know about when it first happened — as the Jets tried to rally in the fourth quarter. He was held without a catch for the first time in his 88-game career and sulked while standing alone on the sideline as the team lost 19-17, ending the Jets' playoff chances.

"I wouldn't single Santonio out like he was the sole problem," receiver Patrick Turner said. "It's a team sport and one's wrong, we're all wrong."

Sanchez declined to comment on what went on with Holmes, saying it was an "in-house" issue that shouldn't be discussed through the media. But ESPNNewYork.com reported that the two clashed at a meeting last week, and several players questioned Holmes' captaincy throughout the season.

The Jets won't have to worry about that next season. Ryan acknowledged that he "made a huge mistake" naming six team captains — he previously only had game captains — and no one will wear the captain "C'' on their jersey anymore.

"I think that pulls away from the team a little bit," Ryan said of having captains. "It may work for other franchises, but it doesn't work for me."

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