The New York Jets on Wednesday announced they were suspending strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi "indefinitely” because they learned Alosi had instructed the non-uniformed players to form a human wall on the sideline in the Miami game.
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After further internal investigation, the Jets said they uncovered new information that Alosi had told the inactive players standing near him to form the wall.
”As we continued our investigation, we discovered some new information,” Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said in a conference call from the NFL owners meetings in Dallas, ”and the players at the Miami game were instructed by Sal to stand where they were to force the gunner in the game to run around them.”
According to Tannenbaum, that was information Alosi did not initially volunteer Monday, and the Jets alerted the league of this and extended Alosi’s suspension indefinitely. Tannenbaum added that the NFL was also looking into the incident.
"Over the course of the next couple of days, more information came out that really doesn’t sit well with us," Tannenbaum said.
Asked if Alosi might be fired, Tannenbaum said, "All options are on the table.”
League spokesman Greg Aiello said that ”Ray Anderson and his staff are reviewing and clarifying sideline protocols with the teams at today’s league meeting and will follow up with a memo to the clubs this week.”
"Once we get all the information, we’ll make a final determination," Tannenbaum said. "But, based on this information, Sal’s been suspended indefinitely."
The Jets on Monday suspended Alosi for the season without pay and fined him an additional $25,000 after he stuck out a knee and tripped Miami’s Nolan Carroll, who was covering the punt in the third quarter of the Dolphins’ 10-6 win Sunday. Carroll stayed down on the field for several minutes after the play but was not injured.
During a news conference Monday, Alosi fought back tears as he called his actions – tripping Carroll – "inexcusable and irresponsible." He also said no one was instructed to stay up on the sideline to prevent Dolphins players from running out of bounds on kicks. Miami’s Reshad Jones was penalized for doing that earlier in the game.
However, tight end Jeff Cumberland, who was inactive Sunday, said it was nothing new for the players to line up next to each other as they did against the Dolphins.
"Since the beginning of the year, we’ve been instructed to line up behind the (white) line," he said, adding that it was only Alosi who has told them to do so.
He added that coach Rex Ryan and special-teams coordinator Mike Westhoff were not involved.
"It caught me off guard," Ryan said.
Westhoff said he doesn’t teach the technique and reviewed every return by the Jets this season with assistant special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica.
"For the most part," Westhoff said, "we didn’t see it."
Westhoff said he didn’t believe it when he first heard that players might have been ordered to stand together along the sideline.
"I was like, ‘Please, give me a break. The whole thing is ridiculous,"’ Westhoff said. "Then, when I saw it, I was like, ‘Whoa.’ You didn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to see they were lined up."
Westhoff added that other teams may use the wall, and singled out the New England Patriots as one that has.
"I’m not accusing the Patriots of doing something wrong," Westhoff said. "Maybe they’re doing something smart. Watch the tape, you tell me."
Tannenbaum said the team looked at film of the play and ”it looked to me like it was unusual for them to be standing that way.” The Jets interviewed the players who were standing near Alosi but will not take any action against them.
”This is just about Sal,” Tannenbaum said.
A former linebacker at Hofstra, Alosi earned an award for sportsmanship and fair play both on and off the field during his college career.
"I’m really disappointed," Tannenbaum said. "Sal’s done a lot of good things as the strength and conditioning coach and done a lot of good things for the organization, but, yeah, I’m very disappointed with what’s happened."
Carroll left the game Sunday with a muscle spasm, but returned in the fourth quarter. Alosi later apologized to him and Dolphins coach Tony Sparano.
"I’m glad he called me," Carroll said Wednesday. "He admitted it to me, like a man. He was sorry."