The New York Jets are entering year three of the Todd Bowles/Mike Maccagnan Era and are under 100 days from kicking this thing off. The Jets are attempting an earnest rebuild, if you ignore them choosing to pay Josh McCown six million dollars to teach Christian Hackenberg how to propel himself into the endzone while an underachieving safety and an undersized inside linebacker dive right at him. This was supposed to be year one of that actual rebuild, but the Jets cannot seem to get out of their own way. Even as the Jets randomly released long time starter and defensive leader David Harris on June 6th, it is still not the strangest event involving an inside linebacker in the last 72 hours.
No, that distinction belongs to last year’s first round draft pick ILB Darron Lee. Lee had an uneven first year, but he started to flash that athleticism the Jets talked up towards the end of the season. He did not deliver the impact plays some Jet fans expected, but he was pretty much average all around. He shared on Twitter that he essentially played his first year on one leg despite not really showing up on injury reports. No turnovers really, he could not cover, and his run defense was bad to start the season. Eventually the game started to slow down and he was actually able to make some tackles. He finished near the top of the team’s leaderboard, which was impressive for a rookie ILB. This second year was supposed to be the year he took that next step, if he could just get out of his own way both on and off the field.
While some of the Jets players attended Governor’s Ball together, Lee was caught on video approaching a woman repeatedly in a very aggressive fashion. There was not any sound in the video so we do not know what was said between any of the participants, but I think it is safe to assume that Lee was not giving her his world famous chicken taco recipe. It came out yesterday that Lee was arguing with his girlfriend. It is never anybody’s place to speak on anyone’s relationship but there seems to be this recurring level of immaturity with Lee where instead of walking away he decided to continue with the argument.
At this point, Darron Lee is more known for his Twitter outbursts than he is for his penchant to overpursue. He has spent his offseason attacking a probable rape victim, arguing with fans on social media, and deleted tweets where he makes excuses and blames others for his poor first season. Now we have this incident, which is like the proverbial candle on top of the crap cake that taking him in round one over a QB and then subsequently having to now watch him be the full time ILB starter and probably not do anything of substance.
As Lee made another beeline for this unidentified woman, we see a monster of a man carrying Lee to the back of the venue as a way to diffuse the situation. This man was Leonard Williams, confirmed leader and downright bad ass on this Jets team that is now devoid of any real leaders. Leo is it, and he stepped up in a major way to get Lee away from this woman. Who knows what happens if Leo is not there? Too often football players are lambasted in the media for what they did not do, and here is a football player that was able to stand up to his teammate and get him away from a situation that could have been so much worse. Since Mr. Williams does not have a tendency to search his name on social media, I hope this message finds him: Thank you, for doing what we Jet fans want our leaders to do. The other side of the leadership coin is that leaders win and winners lead, and hopefully Mike Maccagnan can live up to his genius billing and stop cutting players that can actually help you win games.
Since Mr. Lee has a tendency to search his name on social media, here is what I will say directly to him with the hope that he actually reads it and takes it to heart:
You are 22 years old. There is a chance you grow up and stop acting like a child who just happens to play professional football. There is also the chance that you never figure it out because being famous for playing football is more important to you than actually just figuring out how to be a good person.
The annals of NFL history are filled with guys like you, athletic freaks who never learned the intricacies of their position or who just never decided to grow up. You continue to make decisions that do not make much sense, and that show a huge lack of character. Stop shaming potential rape victims just because your friends swear to you they did not do anything. Stop pretending to be a tough guy on the internet, and stop pretending you are better than what you have shown to be on the field. Just as importantly, do not repeat the same mistake you just made by continuing to pursue a woman even as she seemingly expresses not wanting anything to do with you. You are making it extremely difficult for Jet fans, including myself, to root for you. Some people will keep telling you “you’re young, you’re just doing what young kids do.” If you think that that is true, I urge you to go talk to your college coach Mr. Urban Meyer and ask him to tell some other players who passed through his programs and where they need up, and how no amount of fame will ever make you want to grow up. You have to do it on your on, both on the field and on the sideline.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com