Thu. Oct 22nd, 2020

Jets don’t need this Kelechi Osemele injury feud

4 min read
Jets don't need this Kelechi Osemele injury feud

The Jets just want to move on. They need to move on.

From Monday night’s massacre. From the Patriots. From 1-5. From ghosts.

And now, from Kelechi Osemele.

Two days after the Jets were annihilated by the Patriots, 33-0, at home in front of a national-television audience while looking like a second-division team playing a first-division team, Osemele dropped a bomb on Wednesday afternoon after the team’s first practice in advance of Sunday’s game in Jacksonville.

The veteran guard has essentially declared war with the Jets in what has devolved into a he-said, he-said hissing match over his right shoulder, with the Jets saying it’s healthy enough for him to play and Osemele saying he needs surgery right away to repair a torn labrum, even if it’s not authorized by the team.

So Osemele, whom the Jets acquired along with a sixth-round pick in a trade with the Raiders for a fifth-round draft pick, declared Wednesday that he is having surgery on the shoulder Friday — with or without the Jets’ blessing.

Given the turbulence this Jets season already has endured — the loss of quarterback Sam Darnold for three games with mononucleosis, the loss of star linebacker C.J. Mosley for four games with a groin injury, the offensive line playing poorly, a couple of NFL suspensions — this is the last thing the team needs right now.

The Jets are reeling, desperate to right a season gone terribly wrong to date. There have been enough divisive elements at play just six games into the season. And now this.

The Jets insist their doctors believe Osemele can play through the shoulder injury and wait to have surgery after the season. Osemele said he has multiple medical opinions outside the team that say he needs the surgery now.

The subplot to the mess is the fact Osemele, who hasn’t played the past three games, had lost his starting job (coincidentally three games ago) and figures he might as well get the surgery now so he’ll be recovered sufficiently enough to get himself a fresh new contract in the offseason.

Playing through the injury and waiting until the offseason to have surgery could compromise his chance to be signed to a good contract for 2020.

Osemele, whose presence inside the locker room when it’s open to reporters has been scarce this season, was (not coincidentally) lying in wait Wednesday. Almost as soon as the room was opened, alas, there was Osemele next to his locker, waiting to be interviewed.

“I have to take care of my body, I have to take care of my health,’’ he said.

He said he received a third opinion Tuesday from a Boston-based doctor, who recommended immediate surgery. He described the injury as “pretty bad,” saying his labrum is “torn off the bone” and that the team “wants me to keep taking Toradol and brace it up.”

“I went as long as I could on painkillers,” he went on. “They were masking the pain. Where’s the line? How much should a player play through pain? What is the limit? Is there a limit? Does my health really matter?”

Osemele, who’s being fined by the team for each practice and game he misses ($579,000 per week, the amount of his game checks) for conduct detrimental to the club, said Jets general manager Joe Douglas was “upset” when Osemele informed him that he wanted surgery. He also revealed that he hasn’t spoken to Jets head coach Adam Gase in “weeks.’’

The Jets on Wednesday continued their stance of not commenting publicly on the matter. Gase, when asked about it, said he wanted to keep it in-house.

Osemele said he filed a grievance via the NFLPA on Monday and added that what the team is doing is “ethically and morally wrong,” adding that he feels “disrespected.”

The biggest shame here is that Osemele, a Pro Bowler in 2016 and ’17, was hoped to be a centerpiece to the Jets’ revamping of their offensive line.

Not only has Osemele not performed to those expectations, this disagreement over his shoulder injury has become a mess the Jets can ill afford. And, all the while, their offensive line remains the weakest link on the team.

The last thing the Jets needed as their season has crumbled on the field: Acrimony off of it.

For more on the Jets, listen to this episode of the “Gang’s All Here” podcast:

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