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Jets' turmoil detailed

Tomlinson says it's the worst he's seen

Associated Press / January 19, 2012
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LaDainian Tomlinson has never seen a locker room as troubled as the one he was in with the Jets this season.

In an interview with Showtime’s “Inside The NFL’’ that aired last night, the running back said the team was plagued by tension between players as the Jets finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs after two straight trips to the AFC Championship game. Tomlinson said quarterback Mark Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes, in particular, had a rocky relationship.

“It is as bad as I’ve ever been around, honestly,’’ Tomlinson said. “And I’ve been around some locker rooms and quarterback-receiver situations and what-not. But it was as bad as I’ve been around.’’

The NFL’s No. 5 all-time rusher added that the problems got “out of hand toward the end of the season,’’ and were created by the brash approach of coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum.

“This is the type of football team that they wanted,’’ said Tomlinson. “Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan are both brash, in-your-face type of style - say whatever you want, just get it done on the field. And then it leads to other things, as guys are calling each other out and saying, ‘I’m not getting the ball’ or whatever it may be.’’

Holmes was benched during the season finale at Miami after arguing in the huddle with teammates. Tomlinson said the tensions escalated to the point during the season where the players couldn’t do anything about it.

“When it gets to that point, there are certain changes that need to happen,’’ he said. “Can it be fixed? I think absolutely it can be, but they’re going to have to make some tough decisions.’’

Tomlinson was asked if he would bring back both Sanchez and Holmes, given all the problems.

“Whew, that is a tough one,’’ Tomlinson said. “I would really have to sit down with them and see if they can coexist, honestly. I mean, that is a decision that I really have to make. And if I really feel like they can’t, then you have to make a move.’’

Tomlinson said the Jets players poked fun at the feud, calling it the “East Coast-West Coast beef.’’

“In all seriousness, Santonio, obviously, he is a great player,’’ Tomlinson said. “There are some things that obviously he needs to work on as far as being a leader.’’

Sanchez struggled down the stretch, throwing seven interceptions in the Jets’ last three games - all losses. The Daily News quoted an anonymous player saying Sanchez was “lazy,’’ something Tomlinson disputed. But the running back agreed that Sanchez was “a bit pampered’’ because he had no real threat in the roster to take his job.

“He is not a lazy guy,’’ Tomlinson said. “He puts in the time after practice in the film room. He can get it done. He just has to have pieces around him to help him get it done.’’

The 32-year-old Tomlinson will be a free agent after two seasons with the Jets, and is considering retirement.

“I love playing for Rex,’’ Tomlinson said before adding that he wished the coach would turn down the bravado. “I don’t mind every now and again saying we are going to win a championship. Maybe at the beginning of the year just saying, ‘Hey, our goal is to win a championship.’ But at the same time every week if you are calling out a team on certain things, I think it puts a little extra on your team. Guys really want to go out there and say, ‘Let’s shut this guy up. Let’s shut these Jets up, just end their season.’ ’’

Tebow played hurt

Quarterback Tim Tebow played through rib, lung, and chest injuries he sustained in the Broncos’ 45-10 playoff loss at New England last Saturday.

He won’t need surgery, is expected to make a full recovery with some downtime, and his offseason training program shouldn’t be affected in any way.

Brady Quinn quickly got ready to go into the game after Tebow was hit by Vince Wilfork and Rob Ninkovich, but Tebow stayed in and finished up.

“I just wanted to show character. You just continue to fight,’’ Tebow said.

Manning not feeling well

Giants quarterback Eli Manning missed part of yesterday’s practice with what coach Tom Coughlin called “a stomach bug, hopefully a 24-hour deal.’’ . . . Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin interviewed for the Dolphins’ head coaching job for a second time.

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