Posted by Rick Laughland Posted on 1:35:00 PM with No comments
In his sixth season in the league, New York Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery personifies leadership.
Whether it’s playing through injuries, as he did with a herniated disk that plagued him throughout the 2010 season, or setting an unrivaled work ethic for young players to emulate, Cotchery is the ultimate team player. As the second longest tenured Jet and a consummate professional, Cotchery’s integrity and character are intangibles that won’t show up in the box score. Unfortunately, Gang Green has carried the persona of an “Animal House” organization, a label that Cotchery amongst other teammates believes is unfair.
“With the Jets, you’re always going to get talk about things outside of football; character issues and all of that,” Cotchery said. “A lot of times teams have faith in their locker room that they’ll be able to help the young guys along the way. That allows team
Cotchery has no issue with the players the Jets brought in via this past April’s NFL Draft. A month ago, the Jets selected a tandem of talented, yet troubled defensive lineman with Muhammad Wilkerson out of Temple taken with the 30th overall pick and Kendrick Ellis out of Hampton at No. 94. The Jets feel with strong veteran leaders like Cotchery to set the right example, Wilkerson and Ellis will follow suit and become valuable additions in 2011.
"Just look at the guy from Temple, he’s very talented," noted Cotchery. "He’s big and athletic and wears No. 9 along the defensive line. You have to some kind of skill to wear that kind of number."
And speaking of talent, Cotchery came to the defense of head coach Rex Ryan, who recently wrote Play Like You Mean It, an autobiographical sketch which details the Jets coach’s first two years in the NFL.
Ryan has been catching flack for writing a book before delivering on his Super Bowl promise and also for some pointed commentary on players in and around the league.
“I think he has the right to write a book,” Cotchery said. “It’s his life. He can speak about the things he’s gone through and his experiences. Obviously people are going to have opinions about his opinions or the things he is saying, but it’s his life and it’s his right to speak his mind.”
Ryan’s book includes some choice words for ex-Jets Eric Barton and Chris Baker as he refers to them as negative locker room guys. Cotchery did not share in Ryan’s sentiments and offered his personal assessment of both players.
“As far as Chris Baker being negative or Eric Barton being negative, you’d have to ask their ex-teammates,” said Cotchery. “I don’t think people that were not on the field with those guys in or in the locker room. I can remember in 2005, when I was still a young pup, just working in practice to be able to get some playing time. In practice I was just exhausted, I was working myself to death. As a came back to the huddle, and the defense was going up, Chris Baker pulled me off to the side and told me to keep working and I would get my shot. I know he helped me out a lot, and I know a lot of ex teammates that enjoyed playing with Chris Baker and Eric Barton as well.”