FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets suspended assistant coach Sal Alosi indefinitely Wednesday after he acknowledged that he ordered five inactive players to form a wall along the sideline for a punt return, during which he tripped a Miami Dolphins player.
General manager Mike Tannenbaum said Wednesday that Alosi, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, did not initially volunteer during the investigation Monday that he told players to stand that way.
“As we continued our investigation, we discovered some new information,” 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.”
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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.
Coach Rex Ryan and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff both have denied they ordered anyone to do what Alosi told the players.
“It caught me off guard,” Ryan said.
During a news conference Monday, Alosi fought back tears as he called his actions “inexcusable and irresponsible.” He also said that no one was instructed to stay up on the sideline to prevent Dolphins players from running out of bounds on kicks.
“Obviously, there was new information that came to light and that’s a big concern to us,” Tannenbaum said. “That’s why we felt that taking this step today was necessary and appropriate because we didn’t have all of the information when we initially reviewed the situation.”
Tannenbaum said he met with Ray Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, on Wednesday morning and the league supported the Jets’ decision. Tannenbaum added that the NFL was also looking into the incident.
“Once we get all the information, we’ll make a final determination,” Tannenbaum said. “But, based on this information, Sal’s been suspended indefinitely.”
Tannenbaum did not rule out the possibility that Alosi will be fired. A decision will be made once he and Johnson return from Texas.
“All options are on the table,” he said.
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 in Fort Worth and will follow up with a memo to the clubs this week.”
The Jets suspended Alosi for the season without pay Monday 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.
Tannenbaum said the team looked at the game 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.
While it appears the Jets didn’t break any league rules by lining up the way they did, the latest decision by the team comes “for the totality of the situation,” Tannenbaum said.
“Over the course of the next couple of days, more information came out and that really doesn’t sit well with us,” Tannenbaum said. “That’s why we felt that this additional step was necessary.”
Alosi was first with the Jets from 2001-05, then worked for the Falcons for one season before he was hired by then-New York coach Eric Mangini in 2007 to be the head strength and conditioning coach.
Alosi will be replaced for the rest of the season by his assistant, Bryan Dermody.
“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.”