INDIANAPOLIS — Dustin Keller is a brave man.
Many of the Jets have made themselves scarce at Super Bowl week, thanks to the ugly fallout following a disappointing 8-8 season. You can’t find any Jets fans either — it’s almost as if the franchise and all its constituents have retired to Rex Ryan‘s man cave to eat wings and work out stuff.
But Keller is on Radio Row, answering hundreds of questions about how the 2011 Jets became the 2011 Red Sox sans the KFC and beer. I asked him if he’s seen any of his teammates in Indy this week.
“I haven’t seen anybody yet,” said Keller, who led the Jets with 65 catches and 815 receiving yards this season. “I’ve been avoiding the questions for a couple weeks, so I figured I have to face them at some point.”
In fairness, Keller had other motivations as well. He’s walking around with a couple flaks from 1800Flowers.com. Every athlete and entertainer has something to pitch here, and the tight end is no exception.
I told Keller about Darrelle Revis‘ chat with NFL Network from the Pro Bowl last week, when the star cornerback said improving the culture in the Jets’ locker room needs to start with someone stepping up and speaking with the team on the first day of OTAs.
Revis didn’t say who should speak up, but Keller has his own opinion.
“Mark’s that guy,” Keller said, referring to beleaguered QB Mark Sanchez. “He’s the guy that runs the offense, he’s in the huddle, he’s that guy. He’s talking when nobody else is. Everybody has to have that type of respect and they have to understand he’s the leader, he’s the one that’s going to lead us where we need to get going.”
Sanchez has been silent since the season ended, but Keller has spoken with him. I asked Keller if he thinks it was the right decision for Sanchez to lay low even as criticism — both from within and outside the organization — mounted.
“Yeah, I think so. I know he went and took a little vacation, took a break and everything and just stepped back — you have to,” Keller said. “When there’s a lot of heat on us, and it’s Super Bowl week and it’s kind of crazy we’re still being talked about, but we understand why it is.
“We just got to get things right.”
— Dan Hanzus