The Goodson debacle: Everyone looks bad

June, 19, 2014
Jun 19
8:45
AM ET

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mike Goodson's brief and sordid run with the New York Jets finally is over, a 15-month period in which his scorecard included one arrest, one drug suspension, one knee surgery and only two games played. It was bad from the beginning, a failed marriage that produced no winners.

Goodson blew a nice contract and a wonderful opportunity with the Jets, squandering a special talent. He runs very fast with a football in his hands, a gift that took him from Texas A&M to the Carolina Panthers to the Oakland Raiders to the Jets. He made a lot of bad decisions along the way, mostly involving women and money, but his employers looked the other way because of his potential on the field. Eventually, they all came to the same realization: He's not worth the aggravation. It's hard to imagine him landing another job in the NFL. Heck, he could end up in prison if the gun-possession charge sticks.

But this story transcends football; we're talking about a human being with off-the-field issues, serious enough to cause genuine concern among his former teammates. They fear that the demons that took control of his life last year have brought him down again. Goodson was so drunk at the time of his arrest last May that he was found incoherent and covered in vomit in the passenger seat of a vehicle stopped in the middle of a highway, police said. There was marijuana in his pocket and a loaded gun in the glove compartment, according to reports. He was excused from training camp to undergo counseling, and he ended up with a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

As bad as it looked, the Jets stuck by him. A week after the arrest, owner Woody Johnson said he wanted to give Goodson a fair shake, quoting the famous line from "Superman": "We’re trying to win games and do the right thing. Truth, justice and the American way."

There was more to it than that, of course. Ego, pride and stubbornness also were involved. Goodson was one of John Idzik's first signings. They gave him a $1 million signing bonus, thinking he could be the playmaker they lacked in the backfield. They wanted to make it work even when it was broken. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there was altruism in play as well. But, ultimately, they're in the winning business, not the life-saving business. In the end, they come away looking bad. Either they didn't perform a thorough background check or they ignored the red flags, as his previous teams did.

Maybe the Jets can take something positive out of this; maybe it will cause them to re-examine their scouting process, taking a harder look at players with character issues.

On Wednesday, the Jets finally released Goodson. He had to go; it would've sent a bad message if they had an AWOL player on the roster. Idzik refused to admit it was a mistake to sign Goodson. He said they performed due diligence but also said it's impossible to truly know a player until he's in your program. Let's be real. It was a mistake. Admit it. Learn from it. Move on. At least it wasn't a cap-crippling financial blunder.

Goodson comes off looking like the bad guy because he got fired, but the Jets were no saints, either. They let him play last season despite the pending charges, with Idzik saying as recently as seven weeks ago that he expected Goodson to be on the 2014 roster. Then he went MIA, skipping the voluntary workouts. That bothered the Jets, particularly because they wanted to monitor his knee rehab. His days were numbered. When he failed to show for the mandatory minicamp, a violation of his contract ... well, that was their chance to cut him with protection from being forced to pay an injury settlement.

The cynic's moral to the story: It's OK if you get arrested, just don't blow off a mandatory minicamp.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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