Thursday, November 29, 2012
Bitter Bart wrong to rip Jets fans
By Rich Cimini ESPNNewYork.com
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Bart Scott's legacy with the New York Jets will be his mouth. He punctuated the high point of the Rex Ryan era with his famous "Can't Wait!" rant after the playoff win over the New England Patriots, and he hit his personal low this week when he criticized heckling fans.
Scott embarrassed himself and the organization by taking on the fans who booed and taunted the Jets during the Thanksgiving night massacre. Clearly, Scott needs a mental GPS, because he needs something to help him back to reality.
Does he get it? Fans have a right to boo. When the home team surrenders 35 points in one quarter, as the Jets did last Thursday night, are the fans supposed to sit there and accept it? They pay outrageous prices for tickets and expect a winning product, especially when the head coach -- year after year -- promises big things.
Instead of knocking Gang Green's fans, Bart Scott should save his bile for himself.
The 49-19 loss to the Patriots wasn't an isolated case of bad football. It was their third home loss by at least 21 points, and you have to go all the way back to 1962 to find the last time this franchise had that many 21-point home blowouts in the same season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
To commemorate that 50-year anniversary, the Jets should break out their throwback Titans uniforms Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
And Scott rips the fans? He should save his bile for himself (he hasn't been the same player since 2010) or his disappointing defense.
In two separate newspaper interviews Wednesday, Scott played the fans-are-clueless card, claiming they have no idea about the rigors of the sport. He told Newsday, "They just call us bums. Like they could ever play or understand the pressure. They couldn't make it through my high-school practice, so why explain it?"
No one wants to hear whining from a football player who makes $8 million a year and drives a Ferrari -- a car the fans helped subsidize. Scott should be thankful he still has a job; he would've been cut after last season, but a $4.2 million guarantee in 2012 saved his butt. He'll probably be out of football next year, looking to peddle his mouth to a TV network.
The Jets should make a statement and send him packing now, offering him up to the masses as a sacrificial lamb for a season that has gone bad in so many ways. At this point in his career, he's all talk, no tackle. But they won't cut him -- at least not until February -- because Rex Ryan loves Scott and was actually talking Thursday about expanding his role.
Fortunately for the Jets, Scott is a shrill voice in the locker room. Most of the players get it.
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"It was rough, but I guess we deserved it," said safety Yeremiah Bell, referring to the fan reaction. "You can't blame them. When you put things like that out on the field, they're not going to cheer for you.
"Everything we get now, we deserve. Our record says so. The only thing we can do is try to make it right."
It got pretty ugly at halftime, when the Jets walked to the locker room through a tunnel alongside the Coaches' Club section -- the high-rent district. Deadspin posted a video of fans tearing into players and coaches as they walked, heads bowed, into the locker room.
It was an angry mob: "You are pathetic ... You guys are a disgrace ... Bums ... Garbage!"
And that's only a small sampling of the venom.
Ryan, who was fined $75,000 last year for cursing a fan in similar circumstances, played it perfectly. He said the fans deserved better. He learned his lesson; he knows you can't win a battle against the fans.
"The fans let us have it and they have every right to," he said. "You have to appreciate the fans. It's easier in good times than bad."
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The Jets know the fans won't be patient Sunday in the next-to-last home game. If they fall behind the lowly Cards, it will turn ugly again.
"We have to be prepared for anything," guard Matt Slauson said. "If we have to treat it like an away game, so be it."
Ryan said he talked with Scott about his comments. He didn't reveal the specifics of the conversation, but you can only hope he reminded Scott that the people he insulted pay his bloated salary.
This is the same player who flipped off a news photographer at the end of last season, who nearly came to blows earlier this season with a Jets blogger, and who tried to organize a media boycott after the team's last victory. He's a bitter player whose toxic attitude has created a negative vibe in the locker room.
On Thursday, Scott stood in front of his locker and addressed his comments. Briefed by a PR official beforehand, he hit all the talking points: He has a "tremendous amount of respect for fans" ... "freedom of speech" ... "understand they pay good money" ... "criticism comes with the territory."
Yada, yada, yada. He also made sure to mention his charitable endeavors. He sounded like he was applying to a country club.
"The real character of a man is tested when things aren't going well," Scott said.
So what does that say about him?