Commentary

Ten months later, Sal Alosi starting over

Ex-Jets strength coach moving on from Tripgate, rebuilding career at Bryant

Updated: October 15, 2011, 10:31 AM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Ten months ago, Sal Alosi's life changed in a nanosecond. He made a mistake, a horrible mistake, and now he's far away from the New York Jets and the NFL, trying to rebuild his career at tiny Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I.

Alosi works long hours as the school's strength and conditioning coach, living in a small house near the campus and eating most of his meals at the student union. Friends say he likes the anonymity, the opportunity to be Sal the strength coach, not "Sal the Tripper."

[+] EnlargeSal Alosi
William Perlman/The Star-Ledger/US PresswireSal Alosi would rather the world forget his Sal the Tripper moniker.

The Miami Dolphins return to MetLife Stadium on Monday night for the first time since the infamous tripping incident last Dec. 12, when Alosi -- the Jets' strength coach -- stuck out his knee and tripped the "gunner" on the Dolphins' punt team, Nolan Carroll.

It mushroomed into a huge controversy, ultimately costing Alosi his dream job.

"That was just a disaster," said defensive tackle Mike DeVito, who keeps in touch with Alosi. "It struck me, too, because if you're in the spotlight … you have to make sure you're doing the right thing. One little mistake, one little lapse, and his whole life changed."

Alosi has received numerous interview requests, but he isn't talking. When reached by ESPNNewYork.com, he politely declined to comment. A Bryant spokesperson issued a two-month-old statement from Alosi that was released when he was hired in August. It didn't say much. He spoke to The Providence (R.I.) Journal last month, touching briefly on Tripgate.

"I immediately regretted it the second it happened," he told the newspaper. "It was a knee-jerk response. … When it first happened, I didn't know how it was going to play out, but I knew it wasn't going to be good."

No, it wasn't good. Alosi was suspended, fined, vilified, shunned, mocked … you name it. Aside from the actual tripping incident, he organized an illegal "wall" of players on the Jets' sideline, according to the team. That put the team in hot water, ultimately resulting in a fine from the league.

Alosi lost a $200,000-a-year job and was relegated to working as a personal trainer out of the garage of his home in New Jersey before hearing about the Bryant opening.

"I'm glad he's back doing what he loves," said DeVito, who hired Alosi during the lockout. "He made a mistake and he knows it. The thing about Sal, he'll own up to it."

Carroll, through a Dolphins spokesman, declined to be interviewed for this story.

Alosi's moment of infamy transcended sports. When David Letterman had Rex Ryan on his late-night TV show last spring, he seemed more interested in Alosi than any other topic. Ryan has said that Alosi was the best strength coach in the league.

Alosi still follows the Jets. Sundays are one of his busiest days at work, but he always tries to sneak a peek at a TV in his office to see how his old team is doing.

Bryant is a Division I program, with about 500 student-athletes. They draw about 1,700 fans for football games at their home stadium, so intimate that fans can walk up to the sideline and hear the coaches' chalk talks in the bench area. The school's mascot, a bulldog, is wheeled around the stadium in a baby stroller-type contraption.

You can't get much further from the NFL than that.

"Sal has moved on in his career, accepting all responsibilities from the past, and in just a short time has already made significant improvements in the areas of strength and conditioning with our teams," Bryant athletic director Bill Smith said in the same two-month-old statement.

For his first game, Alosi traveled to Maine, where he saw a display of "Black Bears in the NFL" -- including DeVito and tight end Matthew Mulligan. Alosi took a picture and texted it to DeVito, who doesn't think he'd be in the NFL if it weren't for his old strength coach.

"Hopefully," DeVito said, "he can get back some day."

For now, Alosi works in relative obscurity, trying to work his way back from one bad moment.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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