Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Jets attend leadership seminar
By Rich Cimini ESPNNewYork.com
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- On the eve of their final preseason game, the New York Jets learned how to become better leaders.
The Jets, who became a national punch line last season because of their dissension-torn locker room, sent 19 players to a leadership training seminar Wednesday in nearby Bedminster, N.J.
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This was another move by coach Rex Ryan in an attempt to ensure good chemistry for the upcoming season. It will, of course, provide plenty of fodder for cynics. Did Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes hug it out? Did the group sit around a campfire? Did Tim Tebow lecture?
Ryan and his coaching staff attended the seminar in May, and he wanted the players to have the same experience. Because most of the Jets' starters won't play in Thursday's preseason finale in Philadelphia, Ryan decided to schedule the outing for Wednesday.
"We just had a great experience as a coaching staff, and I'm hoping the players have the same kind of experience we had," Ryan said. "It was great. It was something I felt all of us gained some things out of. You saw a lot about each other. I thought it was good."
Ryan declined to get into specifics, but he said the players would participate in "different exercises" under the supervision of professional instructors.
The players didn't find out until they reported to work Wednesday morning. The seminar lasted from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET, meaning they were excused from practice.
The Jets didn't announce the seminar to the media until reporters reached the practice field and noticed the biggest names on the team were missing, including Sanchez, Tebow, Holmes, Bart Scott, Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.
After acknowledging he lost "the pulse of the team" last year, Ryan has made it his No. 1 offseason priority to repair the fractured locker room. That has included a different approach to team leadership.
After last season's meltdown, he announced that the team no longer would have full-time captains. Ryan appointed captains before the 2011 season, and it backfired because one of them -- Holmes -- became a divisive influence in the locker room.
Sanchez and Holmes endured a strained relationship, barely speaking to each other -- a feud that exploded into the headlines when the year was finished.
There were brushfires throughout the season, mostly involving Holmes, but the situation didn't blow up until the final game in Miami, where the wide receiver and tackle Wayne Hunter (traded this week to the St. Louis Rams) nearly came to blows in the huddle.
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Sanchez and Holmes say they have since repaired their relationship, and the Jets insist they're a united team. But there were blowups in training camp, including two days of practice-field fights and a war of words between Cromartie and wide receiver Chaz Schilens.
Tebow's arrival also has created the prospect of a quarterback controversy. So far, the two quarterbacks seem to be getting along well, with Sanchez firmly entrenched as the starter.
"[Tebow] is no different than anyone else in here, he's a hardworking guy, just like Nick Mangold and Brandon Moore," Sanchez said Tuesday. "He's always on time, and he's a hard worker. He's a great teammate. He fits in with a lot of other players. We kind of push each other, so it's been great."