Jets’ Gase: Had no in­put on GM fir­ing

The News-Times - - SPORTS -

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Adam Gase spent most of his nearly 15-minute news con­fer­ence bat­ting down re­ports and ru­mors, while try­ing to set the record straight.

The New York Jets coach has been the fo­cus of lots of con­ver­sa­tion — most of it not good — on sports talk ra­dio, tele­vi­sion and so­cial me­dia since the team fired gen­eral man­ager Mike Maccagnan last Wed­nes­day. The wide­spread be­lief is that Gase had some­thing to do with how ev­ery­thing went down, that he “back­stabbed” Maccagnan and forced team chair­man and CEO Christo­pher John­son to make a change.

“That would be false,” Gase in­sisted Thursday dur­ing his first news con­fer­ence since Maccagnan was fired. “That’s just not true. Christo­pher made the de­ci­sion.”

On Mon­day, Gase took one ques­tion about the sit­u­a­tion from re­porters at the team’s fa­cil­ity and said there was no power strug­gle be­tween him and Maccagnan. Gase ac­knowl­edged Thursday that the two didn’t al­ways see eye to eye, but noth­ing un­like other NFL teams’ coaches and GMs.

“The ma­jor­ity of the time, me and Mike were al­ways on the same page,” Gase said. “You have dis­agree­ments. There are al­ways go­ing to be dis­agree­ments in this pro­fes­sion, as far as phi­los­o­phy, what you want to do player per­son­nel-wise, but at the end of the day he had the fi­nal de­ci­sion. That was his right.”

Gase was then asked if he ex­pressed to John­son at any point that he couldn’t work with Maccagnan.

“No,” Gase said flatly. One of the ru­mored sources of ten­sion be­tween the two was the Jets giv­ing run­ning back Le’Veon Bell a four-year, $52.5 mil­lion deal in free agency. Ac­cord­ing to some pub­lished re­ports, Gase didn’t want Bell; oth­ers said Gase was not happy about pay­ing that much money for the for­mer Steel­ers star.

“The con­tract was what it was,” Gase said. “I mean, ev­ery­body can crit­i­cize con­tracts all you want, but he’s here, I’m ex­cited he’s here, I think our play­ers are ex­cited he’s here and our coaches are. When you get a chance to coach a great player, a guy who has done things that no one has ever done in the league, like him we’re ex­cited about that op­por­tu­nity. I’m ex­cited to get him in the of­fense, so I can start fig­ur­ing out what else can we do with him. What hasn’t he done? What can he be great at in this sys­tem?”

Gase also in­sisted he did not think the Jets over­paid for Bell, who has not at­tended the team’s vol­un­tary work­outs this off­sea­son. He is ex­pected to re-join his new team­mates for manda­tory mini­camp next week.

“Dis­cus­sions are had and whether or not we dis­agreed on any­thing if it was fi­nan­cially, that’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent story than the per­son or the player,” Gase said. “And that’s where a lot of this gets mis­con­strued. Le’Veon Bell is a great player, he’s a good per­son, he’s been in con­stant contact with me. I en­joyed my in­ter­ac­tion with him when he was here, when he came up to visit for his phys­i­cal and we signed him, when he was here for the be­gin­ning of Phase I. He texts me all the time. All that stuff on In­sta­gram, I get it first. That’s how I know what he’s do­ing. He’s been great with me as far as contact goes, mak­ing sure that I know what he’s do­ing, where he’s work­ing out at, where he is — what­ever part of the United States he’s work­ing out in.”

There was a re­cent re­port that the Jets could even con­sider try­ing to trade Bell to get out of the big con­tract.

“That’s ridicu­lous,” Gase said, shak­ing his head. “That’s the first time I’ve heard of that.”

Gase is serv­ing as the act­ing gen­eral man­ager while the Jets be­gin the process of hir­ing a new one, with the coach char­ac­ter­iz­ing it as be­ing in the “be­gin­ning stages.”

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