Teammates say Holmes quit on Jets
Wide receiver Santonio Holmes, a team captain, was benched late in the fourth quarter of the Jets' 19-17 loss Sunday to the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium after moping for most of the game and getting into a fight in the huddle with teammates.
The Jets' third consecutive loss kept them from a third-straight playoff appearance under coach Rex Ryan and dropped them to 8-8, a terrible finish to a season that began with so much hope.
Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions and the defense allowed a 21-play drive, but this game will be best remembered for Holmes' disappearance.
The Holmes situation has been a major problem lying just beneath the surface of this team for weeks. Several Jets said they felt Holmes "quit" Sunday because he was not getting the ball.
"He quit a long time ago," one Jet, who requested anonymity, said. "He's a cancer."
It all boiled over in the fourth quarter when Holmes, who did not have a catch for the first time in 95 career games, was giving his "hangdog" look, according to another player, and said something that irked a few of the Jets players.
According to a source, right tackle Wayne Hunter said something to Holmes, who responded and then it escalated into a full-blown argument in the huddle.
"I turned around and everyone was just yelling at each other," guard Matt Slauson said.
According to a source, the Jets offensive coaches, led by coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, huddled on the sideline and made a decision as a group to pull Holmes from the game. As the team drove down the field on its final drive, Holmes sat on the bench by himself without a helmet on.
"There were some guys in the huddle that were unhappy with Tone's demeanor," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "When you have a group of guys that's fighting their butts off, and one guy, for whatever reason, their demeanor's not with them, you're going to get some guys to say something to him and tell them how they feel."
In his postgame news conference, Ryan inexplicably said he did not know Holmes had been benched. He said his understanding was that Holmes took himself out of the game, but he did not want to comment until he learned more about the situation.
"I looked out there and was wondering why he wasn't out there myself," Ryan said. "I did not bench Santonio. Maybe you'll have to ask him."
Holmes said wide receiver Patrick Turner tapped him on the shoulder, and that is how he knew he was out.
"I have no answers for it," Holmes said. "It was the coaches' call and it happened."
The Jets signed Holmes to a five-year, $45-million deal this summer, choosing him over fellow free-agent receiver Braylon Edwards. There have been a few flare-ups this season, with Holmes criticizing the offensive line and quarterback Mark Sanchez. He and guard Brandon Moore battled through the media in October.
According to a source, many players felt Holmes "checked out" a few weeks ago. He was not showing the same practice habits and did not seem interested in the remainder of the season, even as they fought for their playoff lives.
When asked about the fighting on the field, Holmes said, "It was emotions running high on the field between two guys on the same team."