Louisville football: The New York Jets don’t deserve Mekhi Becton

New York Jets tackle Mekhi Becton (center) on the field before facing the Denver Broncos in a NFL game at MetLife Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in East Rutherford.Nfl Jets Broncos
New York Jets tackle Mekhi Becton (center) on the field before facing the Denver Broncos in a NFL game at MetLife Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in East Rutherford.Nfl Jets Broncos /

The New York Jets Head Coach should be reprimanded for his mismanagement of Mekhi Becton’s well-being.

Former Louisville football standout offensive lineman Mekhi Becton went down in the first half of last Sunday’s matchup vs the Indianapolis Colts with a shoulder injury. The ailment sidelined him for the remainder of the game.

Precursor: This is not a “hot off the press” or a “first on the scene” report. You won’t find any stats. There are no analytics. It’s not a player performance review. I’m pissed off.

Reports from the Jets locker room were cryptic at best. It was categorized as an undisclosed injury and his status for Thursday night’s contest vs Denver was listed as doubtful.

DOUBTFUL. Think about what that really means. When my kids ask if we’re doing to the park on a rainy day, you know what I say? “Doubtful.” When my wife asks me if I want to go hang out at a baby shower for five hours on a Saturday, you know what I say? “Doubtful.” When a collection agency asks if I can pay the one time payment right this very second with my credit card over the phone, you know what I say every single time? “Doubtful.” Doubtful is a polite man’s “no”.

In the NFL, there are only four existing injury report statuses: out (self-explained), doubtful (see above), questionable (could go either way), and probable (likely to play). Hell, sometimes coaches even say “day-to-day”, which means exactly what it says – but Mekhi was listed as doubtful.

Very few of us expected to see him take the field for the AFC showdown against the Broncos, yet by some parabolic enigma, there Becton was at the top of the depth chart. In full pads. Lining up as a starter.

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Never mind the fact that he’s a left tackle and the injury was his left shoulder. Never mind the fact that he’d only played three total games as a professional. Never mind the fact that he often has to take on double teams in blitz packages.

After just a short period of time, we all laid witness to Becton’s injury rearing it’s painfully ugly head. The league’s premier rookie was clearly banged up. Each snap evoked a grimace. Mekhi’s supporters took to the streets of social media to express their displeasure, and rightfully so. What a ghastly affair.

It was like watching one of your children being forced to make a verbal class presentation with their jaw wired shut. But there he was, playing his ass off. Leaving it all out there. Performing well, despite the agony.

It was a third down in the first half, on what would be his final play of the game, when Becton went down shoulder-first and laid on the turf for a moment. He then (finally) exited the game.

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In the post-game presser, Jets Head Coach Adam Gase commented on the situation saying “he pulled himself out of the game”.

He pulled himself out of the game. Wow. You know what, Becton should’ve never had that weight stacked on his shoulders to begin with (pun all the way intended). He shouldn’t be subjected to a struggling coach’s straw grasping. Somebody, somewhere in the Jets front office should’ve stepped in to replace him and allow him to heal.

We’re not talking about a seasoned veteran that knows the drill when it comes to absences and setbacks in the NFL. We’re talking about a bright-eyed first round draft pick sent to East Rutherford, New Jersey from the football gods. This was one hell of a way to introduce Mekhi to the NFL’s “pro-player” injury protocols.

Becton lurked on the sidelines completely dejected from the evening’s transpiration. He made his way over to the bench, grimacing and clutching his left shoulder as he sat down. He shook his head in disbelief, emitting a glare of disapproval and mistrust.

The Jets had completely jeopardized one their most talented player’s health, which could directly impact the rest of his career’s upside; and they did it unconventionally.

When a medical staff lists a player as doubtful immediately following a game in which a player is injured, one would expect the player to miss some reps and more-than-likely miss practices and even miss the next game at the minimum, no matter if Becton was mentally prepared to gear up or not. In this case, it was evident that Gase and the Jets didn’t do a damn thing to protect Mekhi Becton.

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If he has long-lasting complications from the strain of Thursday night, he could very well have grounds to sue. That’s how atrocious this was.