SAN DIEGO, CA
Jets DE John Abraham hasn't had a sack since Nov. 14 against Baltimore. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
- The snap was perfect, the hold was down and Doug Brienís kick split the uprights.
Youíve seen that scene replay in your head a thousand or so times by now. Youíve seen Jets LB Eric Barton rejoice after making one of the biggest bonehead plays in recent memory, youíve seen the team flood the field after Brienís overtime game-winner. Youíve seen it all. All, but Jets Pro-Bowl defensive end John Abraham.
Wait, I take that back. You did see him in street clothes a few times as the television camera panned the Jets sideline while Chargers QB Drew Brees was relatively untouched by the Jets defensive line. A familar site. It's the same site you saw in St. Louis last week as the Jets nearly missed the playoffs while Rams QB Mark Bulger silced and diced the Jets secondary with little pressure in crunch time.
Abraham was spotted in San Diego last Saturday night with his hands raised in celebration as game-winning kick was good. But why? Does he really care that the teams second season is extended another week?
OK, Iím sure he wanted to win. But he left his buddy Shaun Ellis out there without a chance. Double-team after double-team couldnít allow Ellis to get close. A sack by blitzing linebacker Jonathan Vilma was the only trace of a football game on Breesí jersey. While his replacement Bryan Thomas has improved dramatically, he has shown that he is not the pass rushing force that the Jets scouted him to be.
The self proclaimed "predator" was cleared by doctors to play last week, but according to published reports Abraham himself felt he was not 100 percent and didnít want to risk further injury to his sprained knee by playing on it. Already this week, he gave Jets nation another proverbial slap into the face by not committing to this weeks divisional playoff game at Pittsburgh which is the organizationís most important game since January of 1999. Coach Herman Edwards has called him a ďgame time decision.Ē
You know what, Abe? Donít even bother playing. Yeah, the team needs you more than ever and yeah, the Jets havenít won a Superbowl in 35 years but why should that matter? You have big dollars coming to you in the off-season and why risk it? Forget the $1.6MM the Jets are paying you this season. Thatís chump change. Originally, it was a 2-4 week estimated recovery and you vowed to do your best to play in the New England game just two weeks after the injury. I know itís almost a month past that but what the heck, it's only a potential championship on the line and those come so often around here.
We know youíre not 100%. Find me one NFL player who feels fresh in January. You are arguably the teamsí best defensive player, a difference maker, and a Pro-Bowler. Guess what those people do? Thatís right they play through pain.
After all, this is football. And if you want the mega bucks when the season ends, playing might be a good idea. Want to redeem yourself? Play Saturday, swallow the quarterback and advance to the AFC Championship.
By the way, Abraham doesnít have a sack in eight games. Right now, a sack in November means nothing. Furthermore it makes it hard to invest the $15 or so million he will command this off-season. From his ďflu-like symptomsĒ stomach back in the 2000 playoffs against the Raiders that forced him to miss his first ever playoff game, all the way to the
Worldís slowest healing sprained knee.
Sound like a leader to you? Heck no. Sounds more like your typical self-serving football player in todayís game.
Perhaps Abe should give Hall Of Famer and former Jets S Ronnie Lott a call and ask him about his 1985 season with the 49ers when he injured a finger on his left hand. The doctors recommended surgery to repair the injury which would require missing several weeks and possibly the playoffs. Instead, Lott chose another method: Amputation of the finger above the knuckle rather than letting his teammates down. He went on to play the rest of the season and didnít miss a down.
He can also speak to former Rams DE Jack Youngblood. This Hall of Famer can share the story about how in 1979 he was chop blocked and snapped his fibula like a twig in the playoffs against Dallas. Despite an injury that would cripple the average man, Youngblood not only finsihed the game with the injury, he sacked Dallas QB Roger Staubach in the 4th quarter to help clinch the win. More amazingly, rather than letting down his teammates, Youngblood braced his leg and played with the injury two weeks later in the Superbowl.
If Abe is looking for some more current inspiration he can always give a jingle to Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and I'm sure he can share some stories about his most recent October and the meaning of team commitment and sacrifice.
Brienís boot gave you a chance to redeem yourself this week. Come earn your money, Abe. Remember, thereís no ďIĒ in "TEAM".