LaDainian Tomlinson Says Jets Locker Room Is Cancerous, Rex Ryan Needs to Answer

Ryan PhillipsContributor IIIJanuary 19, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 01:  LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the New York Jets rushes during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

LaDainian Tomlinson gave a candid interview to Showtime's Inside the NFL in which he claimed the New York Jets' locker-room turmoil was the worst he'd ever encountered. The future Hall-of-Fame running back detailed how the relationship between receiver Santonio Holmes and quarterback Mark Sanchez was particularly rocky and how head coach Rex Ryan's weekly bravado actually hurt the team.

I found Tomlinson's comments to be a very fair assessment of the situation. He didn't seem out to embarrass the team or make a scapegoat out of anyone, as he even praised Sanchez as a hard worker and claimed that Holmes was a talented guy who needed to figure out how to be a leader. In addition to that, he claimed he loved playing for Ryan, but that his near-weekly declarations of superiority actually fired up opponents.

The Jets need to respond to this, and quickly. It is well known that things fell apart in the team's locker room this season, and even Ryan has claimed that he lost the pulse of the team. What the coach needs to come out and do is publicly vow to fix not only his team, but the way he does things.

Ryan must tell the team and the fans that he can evolve as a coach and improve, and toning down his bravado in public would be step one in doing so. Then, he needs to sit down in a room with both Holmes and Sanchez and hash things out. The franchise needs to figure out if those two guys can co-exist, and if they can't, one of them (likely Holmes) needs to be jettisoned. 

The Holmes-Sanchez feud can, and will, bring down the team. Holmes even resorted to arguing with teammates on the field, which led to his benching during the team's final game of the season. 

That kind of immaturity from a team captain and one of the highest paid players on the roster is simply unacceptable.

Some will think that Tomlinson's public declarations were out of line and that these things should stay in the locker room. But if anything, I think his interview could be the first step in the healing process for a terribly fractured team.