Friday Player Interviews

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Transcripts of interviews with Jets players on the field after today's morning minicamp practice:     

LB VERNON GHOLSTON

On having to wait to get here …

You know you're going to be here soon enough and the biggest thing is to be patient. I had to take care of all the off-the-field issues with becoming settled and situated. Once you get here, go full steam in to it.

On if he feels like he has a little bit of catching up to do …

I have a lot of catching up to do. The first time I walked in there I barely knew any guys and I had to name them all. I am just trying to get adjusted to the guys and know what is going on. It's a big learning curve, but that is what comes with the job.

On how he did with naming his teammates …

I did OK. Some say I could have done better. The biggest thing is you're here to play football. You try to learn that and you will be all right.

On if he thinks the NCAA has a ridiculous rule …

I can understand it from a certain standpoint in terms of if you're in school and trying to get your degree. I won't argue with the rules. They're in place obviously for a reason and you have to abide by them.

On how long a day he would typically spend studying the playbook vs. working out …

It would be different times on different days and it all depended what was going on. A lot of me was just handling off the field concerns or issues — closing my apartment up there and trying to find a place down here. I was taking care of different situations. Some days I was up in New Jersey looking for a place and other days I was in Columbus.

On if he felt overwhelmed ...

You could say that, but it's more of an expected thing. Obviously, it's the NFL and I knew from the beginning the playbook was going to be thick. I have to make adjustments and I expected it, but at the same time I felt overwhelmed with it.

On his assignment naming all the players …

The biggest part of being a team is knowing your teammates and with me it's really just my first time meeting a lot of these guys. I really haven't worked the names with faces. Coach put me to the test and I had to name the guys. I did OK on it. Some guys you haven't seen so you have to grunt through it.

On if it was naming the whole team or defense …

It was the whole team.

On if it was Thursday night in the auditorium …

This morning when I got here in the locker room.

On if there is any extra study sessions planned with LBs coach Jim Herrmann …

He and I will probably try to get together and study as much we can. I will probably be studying every minute to get caught up.

S KERRY RHODES

On the rookies …

The young guys, they're out here just running around. They're trying to learn on the fly so mistakes are being made. Just as long as they're flying around and continuing to be aggressive and not shying away from messing up, that's the biggest thing. You're going to mess up. I still mess up now. When you can rebound from that and keep making plays, that's the best sign of a player.

On Vernon Gholston …

He's a big dude. It's my first time seeing him in person and he's living up to that "Goliath" stuff they said. You have to get him to make the right decisions on the field in order to help us. We're going to need it.

On the secondary …

We're making strides. It's just developing the chemistry between us and the consistency between everybody. It's just having the cohesiveness as a unit to come out and dominate every day. As a DB unit you want to be the craziest guys out on the field, and the loudest guys, but at the same time able to be prepared and able to make the plays that you can.

On whether the young Jets have asked him for advice …

Yes. That's what they should do. I'm here. I'm a resource for them. I've been through it as a rookie. I was the guy asking questions all the time. But now I'm kind of like an elder for them. But not really — I'm still young [laughs]. They can come to me and I have the answers that they can get.

S ERIC SMITH

On his experience last year …

When you get to play, it does boost your confidence, especially if you play well. You say, "I can do this" and then you see where you can go from there.

On what he thought he needed to do to get better …

There is always room for improvement in everything, whether it's man-to-man coverage, zone reads, communicating back in the secondary and getting calls to everybody. There is improvement to be made everywhere.

TE CHRIS BAKER

On why he couldn't finish practice …

I can't really talk about injuries, but I tweaked something and had to go finish up on the bike.

On if his contract situation had anything to do with him not finishing practice …

No, I just had to finish on the bike.

On what he thinks about the level of attention focused on him during minicamp …

My contract situation is obviously very important. I really don't want to have this much fanfare about the whole situation. I wanted to actually just have it done quietly and just come out here and play and not worry about anything. I kind of have been forced into this position.

On whether his teammates are sympathetic to his situation …

The guys understand what is going on, having seen this happen before. They know the history of what's going on right now and what happened last year. Guys understand. Like I said, I want to be here but management is forcing this issue.

On if he is feeling frustrated and mistreated …

Absolutely. I've done a lot of things since I've been here, while [former head coach] Herm [Edwards] was here and also always while [head coach Eric] Mangini has been here. I've been a good soldier and never raised an eyebrow about anything. I always have done what they have asked me to do. Why I'm in this position right now, I do not know.

On why he is in this position …

That's a good question for [general manager] Mike Tannenbaum. He's the one that has forced me into this position.

On whether anyone has approached him today in order to fix the situation …

No, nothing. Not at all.

On why he can criticize the management but not talk about his injuries …

[Laughs] That's definitely a team policy.

On if anything has changed from Thursday …

No, I haven't talked to either the head coach or the general manager.

On if he is disappointed no dialogue has taken place …

I really didn't expect to have any dialogue. Like I said, I actually tried to avoid this at all costs. Every step of the way I've been trying. All my agents have been communicating with Mike to try and stop this from happening. He almost acts like he wants it to happen because he knew it was going to happen if nothing was done.

On whether it's awkward to be practicing during this situation …

Yes, it is a little awkward. It is what it is. I can't do anything about it now. Obviously, there's nothing I can really do about it now. It has just gotten to this point.

On Tannenbaum's statements that no promises were made to Cliff Brady …

He's saying that, but how many times has this happened just in the past year? It's not a coincidence. I have no reason to come out here and make that story up. Like I said, you've seen it happen a couple times in the past year and it's happening again. If you want to believe that, you can. There would be no reason for me to come out here and lie to make that a point.

On whether he heard Tannenbaum make the contract promise to Brady …

No, it was discussed with my agent. Like I said yesterday, all those things are discussed with my agent. I don't really ever have much of a conversation with Mike Tannenbaum.

On what Brady said about the conversation the day it happened …

At that point in time I said, "Look, I'm not happy with my contract." This was last year and this summer. He said, "OK, I'm going to talk to Mike for you." Later that day, he said that Mike had said, "We're dealing with other contract issues right now. You just signed a deal so just go out and have a good year and we'll talk after that."

On whether any conversations with Tannenbaum have been misconstrued …

If he says to go out and have a good year, then we'll talk, how much can you misconstrue that? But there has been no talking going on. Like I said yesterday, it hasn't been "OK, well, what are you guys looking to do?" or anything like that. It has just been "No, we don't want to do anything."

On whether he has received any feedback from other players …

Yes, I really don't want to discuss what other players and I talk about. Last year I talked with Pete [Kendall] because I knew at some point, after I had that conversation with Mike, it could get to this point. I believe I told you about it last year when we talked. I told you hopefully it doesn't get to this point, but here we are a year later.

On whether giving him half of his 2008 salary in an advance could be perceived as a goodwill gesture by management …

Like I said, they came to me and offered. I did not go and say, "Hey, I need half my salary for next year." I was pretty confident I was going to be the starting tight end. I was pretty sure I was going to be here. They came to me and asked me to help them out, to help them for the salary cap for the upcoming year.

After that was done, they thanked me for helping them out. I guess you can perceive it that way. But there was no doubt I was going to be on the roster that March. If I wasn't, I would have been able to go out and search for the deal that I wanted from the get-go for this year. I guess you can perceive it that way, but it was more beneficial for the team. Like I said, they came and asked me to do it. I agreed to do it. I guess you can look at it a couple of different ways.

On the difficulty of focusing on football while this situation is in the forefront …

It is going to be extremely difficult. It has been difficult these past two days. Like I said, hopefully something gets resolved but I'm not optimistic. Obviously, this is the way things have gone. It has gotten to this point and I have tried to avoid it thus far. I don't know what is going to happen so I'm just going to wait and see.

On some people not believing he was injured today …

I have played every game whenever I had the chance last year. Talking about injuries, I took three injections in my back three different times last year. This is at the point when we were 1-7 and things like that. If anybody ever questions if I want to be on the field, then that is up to them. I could have easily packed it in last year.

On if he would take the back injections this season if he is still a Jet without higher pay …

I have to cross that bridge when I get to it. Like I said, I could have easily packed it in last year and it would have been OK to do that. I didn't do that. It wasn't like we were playing for a playoff spot halfway through the year. If anyone ever wants to question my commitment or my injuries or anything like that, then that is up to them.

On his options …

Right now, I'm hoping to be here. If I'm not or if nothing gets done, then I guess I'll have to cross that when I get there.

On whether this is disappointing since he played through injuries last year …

That is a big part of it. The only time I ever missed any time in my six-year career here was when I had a broken ankle. Any other time, if I could walk, I was going to be out there on the field. And that's what I have done. Especially last year, I really put myself on the line. I would hope the team would look to say, "OK, this is a guy we can count on, and he's been here. He's not a guy that gets injured." Obviously, that's not the case.

On if he thinks his back issues are contributing to his situation …

No, because I have been medically cleared for everything. My agent talked to them about that and asked them that specific question. They said it's not an issue at all. I have been checked out by plenty of doctors. As far as that goes, that is not an issue at all.

On if asking for money is equivalent to asking for respect as a starter …

Right, that's all it is. It's hard with the labor agreement for fans to say "OK, you have billionaire owners vs. millionaire players" and things like that. It's hard to understand. You just have to look at it, this is our livelihood and this is our job. So, if I'm your A-number-one guy, then pay me like I'm your A-number-one guy. That's all it comes down to.

On if he would consider retirement if he plays for the same salary this year …

No, I'm not retiring. I feel like I'm in the prime of my career right now. My numbers have gone up over each of the past two years and I feel really good right now. I'm 28, so I'm not retiring.

On if he would retire just because he did not want to play for that salary …

No.

On what he would do this season if he had to play for the Jets under the same salary …

I'm not sure. I'm not sure what I would end up doing. I'm not thinking about retirement for another five, six or seven years. I'm 28 years old so I'm not going anywhere anytime soon, hopefully.

On what happened today and why he didn't practice …

I just tweaked something in warmups. That is just football. I haven't actually been out here working out with the team. I've been working out on my own. Getting back onto the field and running around and with things like that, that's always something to worry about.

On if he has allowed any possibility that Brady didn't translate exactly what was said with Tannenbaum …

I'm absolutely, 100 percent confident in that. He was correct last year when I said something about that. I had just re-signed my deal at that point so I only had one year, salaries had changed, and I agree with that. He had no reason to say that. He was going to tell me the truth about the situation. He had been my agent for six years.

On if there is a possibility Brady was just telling him what he wanted to hear …

I can't see, under any circumstances, why he would do that. He knew at that point in time that once I went out and performed the way I wanted to perform that we were going to have to revisit anyway. It wouldn't benefit him to lie and say, "Go do this and then I'm going to go back to them."

On why he fired Brady …

A big part of it is because of the deal that I'm in. That was the big thing, being in the situation that I'm in. I don't feel like he really prepared me for the free agency. This is my first time being a free agent. I just wasn't happy with my deal.

On if other players are watching his situation …

Yeah, guys are definitely watching. I am not going to say anybody's names. I can guarantee you after this is all said and done, there will be someone out here next year and the following year because of the way things are handled here.

My advice to guys is if you're going to do anything with this organization, get it in writing because things may be said with a wink and the next thing you know they claim something was misconstrued. This is three times and like I said it is going to continue.

On his lunch with Coach Mangini …

It was a local establishment. I won't go into exactly what the establishment was. He probably wouldn't like the fact if I divulged where we were at. It was a little weird. Me and him have a decent relationship. He is really trying to separate himself from what is going on.

He sent me a couple of texts saying "Let's sit down and talk." I am thinking maybe we can go this route as far as trying to come to an agreement on what to do or what steps to take. It was more like here is the playbook so you don't get behind. I was like, that is really not what I came for, but I was respectful.

The lunch didn't really get anything accomplished as far as what I was looking to get accomplished. I don't know if he accomplished anything with the lunch.

On when Mangini sent him the texts …

They were sent over about three weeks ago, right around when OTAs started.

On if Mangini as the head coach could have gotten something done …

I believe so. The thing is, the organization has gone out and got a lot of great players. I think the table is set for the team to really have a good season. I'm pretty sure he does not want this to hang over like last year.

Like I said, me and him have a good relationship. But at the same time, if he wanted to get something done, he has some influence — he is the head coach. But nothing has been done yet. I don't know exactly how much control he has or how much input he has. Organizations are different. I don't know.

On Tannenbaum and Mangini running the football operations …

That is my thing: He is trying to separate himself but I'm not really sure he can be separated from it because he is the head coach.

On being glad Mangini reached out to him …

Yeah, but I would like him to keep the lines of communications open with Mike, just so we can get it resolved. Just to come and say, "Here is a book and how is your family doing?" That is nice, but that is not really getting the main goal accomplished.

On who paid for lunch …

Actually, the restaurant paid.

On mimicking Terrell Owens wearing biking attire while sitting out of practice …

Whatever happens, I won't wear a Discovery uniform like TO had on. I do not know what is going to happen. Hopefully, I won't have to go through things like that, but who knows?

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