- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Vernon Gholston was back at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Monday night, but he didn’t dress in the home team locker room. After his new team's 41-13 loss to the Giants in a preseason game, Gholston -- the former Jet now playing defensive end for the Chicago Bears -- said Jets coach Rex Ryan had the wrong idea about him from the start.
“Rex made a comment to me when he first came in that he thought I wasn’t liked by the guys on the team,” Gholston said. “But once he got there he saw it was a different case, and those perceptions kind of weigh into, determine the outcome and it’s sad to say.”
Gholston said he had to leave the Jets if he wanted to be a better player. In March, the Jets cut him after three seasons without a single recorded sack.
“Personally I think it was a needed move for me, for my growth as a football player,” Gholston said. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to be as productive as I wanted to be as a football player, and sometimes that happens.”
The Jets drafted Gholston with the No. 6 overall pick in 2008 and signed him to a deal with $20 million in guaranteed money. Eric Mangini was the Jets' coach at the time, and moved the former Ohio State defensive end to outside linebacker. It didn’t go well, but Gholston said he was a team player about moving positions.
“They ask me to do that, that’s what I’m going to do,” Gholston said. “So whether I play a nose tackle, if they ask me to play safety one day, that’s what I’m going to do.”
When Ryan took over as coach in 2009, he made a point of saying he was going to get production out of Gholston. Yet Ryan took a few shots at Gholston in his book, “Play Like You Mean It.”
“He’s a good athlete and a smart guy,” Ryan wrote, “but I thought he was a phony.”
“I think it was out of context from what I heard,” Gholston said. “I’ve got no feelings toward it. If that's how he feels that’s how he feels.”
Gholston said he knew that Ryan didn’t have any loyalty towards him when the new coach arrived from Baltimore, soon to bring along a few of his favorite defensive players in linebacker Bart Scott and safety Jim Leonhard. But Gholston didn’t particularly have any love for Ryan at that point either.
“I wasn’t hoping for him to be the first coach of the Jets when I was there,” Gholston said.
Once they got to know each other, the relationship improved, but Gholston never became a force on the defense, no matter where the team had him play.
“If anything it maybe hindered me with the Jets because I’m such a team guy,” Gholston said. “I’m never going to be selfish about playing time, about where I’m playing, position, playing out of position or playing special teams so I’m going to take that attitude wherever I go and hopefully you get a coach that appreciates it.”
Gholston is happy to be with the Bears now, looking for a second chance. On Monday night he came in during the first half at end and recorded an assisted tackle. He said he has more to offer a team than he got to show with the Jets.
“With the NFL, teams are always looking for talent and to say I don’t have talent is a far stretch,” Gholston said. “It’s just all about getting like you guys said, a fair shot, time in the system. A lot of people don’t know when I was with the Jets over the past three years there was constant position change, coaching change, there was no stability.”
Asked if he got a fair shot with the Jets, Gholston didn’t give a yes or no.
“At the end of the day, being a first-round pick you would hope for more,” Gholston said. “But I’ve got no hard feelings toward anything. It was great playing for Rex and Mangini before him and being a Jet.”
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Vernon Gholston was back at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Monday night, but he didn’t dress in the home team locker room.