Esiason: 'Selfish' Jets, media 'lynching' cost Coslet

January 19, 1994|By Paul Needell | Paul Needell,New York Daily News

NEW YORK -- The Boomer has finally lowered on the New York Jets.

After declining to comment since former coach Bruce Coslet was fired by general manager Dick Steinberg 12 days ago, quarterback Boomer Esiason admitted yesterday that he kept his lips zipped because he was so unnerved by the firing of his "very dear friend" he feared saying something he might regret.

But Esiason went on the offensive yesterday.

He contended the "selfishness" of some Jets -- specifically wide receiver Rob Moore, tight end Johnny Mitchell and strong safety Brian Washington -- hurt Coslet in the eyes of management.

While professing "great admiration and respect" for new coach Pete Carroll, Esiason insinuated that a media "lynching" may have influenced Steinberg's decision.

Regarding several teammates, Esiason said pointedly: "These guys have to grow up a little. It's time for them to mature. ... They already cost one guy his job, and hopefully it will be a wakeup call for these guys to come into camp with more of a team attitude."

During interviews, Esiason explained his silence.

"This whole thing happened so quickly and unexpectedly," Esiason said. "The day he was fired was obviously a very emotional day in my family. I don't want to say I was 'livid' or 'angry.' I'd more like to say I was 'upset.'

"I was caught between a rock and a hard place. ... Instead of me going on the defensive for Bruce at that time and maybe saying something that would upset Pete Carroll or that would upset Dick Steinberg or [owner] Leon Hess, I felt it better not to say anything for at least a couple of weeks."

Esiason, who spoke to Steinberg minutes after learning Coslet had been fired, clearly believes the coach got a raw deal. "He [Steinberg] made a very difficult decision," Esiason said. "He obviously wrestled with it. I can respect the fact that it was a difficult decision for him, but I don't have to agree with it. This ... business is cut-throat."

But although Esiason is wounded, he is not looking for an escape hatch. "I'm going to be 33, I don't want to start somewhere else with another team," he said. "I think we're really close as an offensive team."

Coslet and Esiason have had numerous conversations since Jan. 6, during which Bruce has urged Boomer to get his head together and finish what they began this season.

In turn, Esiason has promised Carroll that "whatever plan of attack he puts in front of me, I will run what he wants. I'm not here to make waves. I'm here to win games."

But to do that, Esiason thinks a number of Jets ought to look at themselves in the mirror. He took exception to Moore's postseason complaints he wasn't used as a deep threat, as well as Mitchell's griping about not getting the ball more. Washington's whining after being snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting, and subsequent trade demand, irked Boomer, too.

As for the media's treatment of Coslet, Esiason said: "It was almost like a lynching that was happening the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, at times, the press can sway decisions and can also sway people's thinking about somebody else."

"Johnny Mitchell has to come in and figure out what he's doing 100 percent of the time, and not just 50 percent of the time," Esiason said, referring to Mitchell's penchant for blowing assignments.

"We can't worry about who's making the Pro Bowl, who's not making the Pro Bowl. There's a little bit of selfishness that is associated with some of the people on our team. That really aggravates me.

"I thought it was a cheapshot when some players -- after Bruce was fired -- made comments questioning their use in our offense. . . I look at the true superstars in this league and I see them playing hurt and not being afraid to run a particular route and making the extra effort to make it to the next level. They don't talk about it, they do it."

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