Whispers - The Mawae-Cimini feud

Jets center Kevin Mawae and New York Daily News writer Rich Cimini have never had a great relationship, and it certainly hasn't improved the last couple of weeks.

Cimini discovered an entry in Mawae's journal on the NFLPA website that was critical of the NFL spring practices known as OTAs (Organized Team Activities). OTAs are extra practice sessions teams are allowed to hold after mini-camp, but there isn't supposed to be contact.

Here is what Mawae wrote:

"Now that May is nearly complete, this is what's been happening...We are in the middle of OTAs (Organized Team Activities). These are condensed versions of a regular season practice, with no pads, and guys flying around at 100 mph. Another way for coaches to get more practice time out of players 3 months before the season even starts. The NFLPA is trying to modify these or get rid of them as they have gotten out of control as far as tempo and the speed of the drills...somewhere along the line, "teaching tempo" and "game speed" have become synonymous. Anyways, enough about the gripe."

After reading the item, Cimini attempted to interview Mawae, prior to writing a story about the complaint, but his request was turned down. Mawae, aware of the nature of Cimini's upcoming article, proceeded to warn readers in his diary of what was about to appear in the Daily News.

"Leave it up to one of our sleuth reporters who was given a 'tip' on a player's perspective on OTAs to turn it into something negative," wrote Mawae. "Though it isn't out yet, there may be an article in the paper this weekend 'quoting' my journal about our abbreviated practices. In this reporter's usual ways, he has attempted to take something that is intended to be fun and informative to the fans and turn it into a negative story to create a story to sell papers. What a shame!"

Here is excerpt from Cimini's article:

"In the tight-lipped world of the NFL, it's unusual for a player to publicly criticize his team or the league. It's doubly unusual if those comments wind up on his team's official Web site.

"But it happened with Kevin Mawae and the Jets.

"The outspoken center, in his latest Web journal on NFLPlayers.com, touches on what has become a hot-button issue around the league - the increasing intensity of off-season workouts. Mawae, updating fans on the Jets' practices from last week, complains that OTAs (organized team activities) have "gotten out of control as far as tempo and the speed of the drills."

"The Jets' Web site, which routinely posts Mawae's period musings on its cyber menu, included a link to his latest journal on its home page. Click twice, fans, and read the gripes of a six-time Pro Bowl player. Well, at least you can't accuse the Jets of censorship, although you have to wonder if they would've responded the same way if Mawae had ripped Woody Johnson's beloved West Side Stadium project.

"Let's be fair: Mawae, a big shot in the union, never accuses Herm Edwards of breaking the collectively-bargained rules for off-season workouts. At the same time, Mawae lets it be known that the Herminator isn't exactly easing up on the pedal.

"Mawae couldn't be reached to expand on his candid remarks."

And a few days after Cimini's article appeared, Mawae responded with the following entry in his diary:

"The reporter from one of NY's "tabloid" papers did what I said he would, and wrote a blip in his column today...how about this guy? His paper should be paying me instead of him, seeing as how his story came from my website...unbelievable! I have a great deal of respect for most of the writers in the New York media, but this guy? Please. To all the Jets' fans that happen to read his stuff, take it with a little grain of salt. For the record, Herm has never broken any off-season workout rules, and never has there been a complaint filed with the union about his workouts...this comes from an NFLPA ‘big shot', as Cimini has called me."

This might be a case of Mawae, "shooting the messenger." Mawae and a lot of NFL players are very upset with the tempo of these spring camps. And they might have a point considering the number of injuries that have occurred in "non-contact" camps. Mawae's journal entry didn't seem like something that was "intended to be fun."

This issue of an NFL team overworking players in no laughing matter. Buffalo tight end Kevin Everett, Houston tight end Bennie Joppru, New Orleans wide receiver Chase Lyman and San Francisco wide receiver Derrick Hamilton have all suffered serious knee injuries in spring camps. These four players are likely out for the year.

The Washington Redskins are currently being investigated by the NFLPA for breaking the rules in their OTAs. The NFLPA feels there is too much contact in Washington's practices. How do they know? There was video of the Redskins OTAs on the team's website.

Cimini is probably taking too much heat on this one. Considering these OTAs have become a hot-button issue, and Mawae expressed concern with them on the NFLPA website, writing about it seems fair. Mawae's problem, and he will be the first to admit it, is that he's a straight shooter, and this sometimes gets him in hot water.


Donnie Henderson said this week that John Abraham is splitting his time between South Carolina and Long Island during his contract holdout. Henderson also said that Abraham is attempting to buy a house on Long Island. That doesn't sound like a player who wants to leave the Jets. Henderson said he expects Abraham to play for the Jets this year. He can only hope. Abraham is the Jets' best defensive player. Without him, this is just an average defense. Plus, if Henderson wants to become a head coach in the NFL, having Abraham around will certainly help that ambition. Maybe Henderson can help the Jets resolve this mess. After all, he and the defensive end have the same agent - Tony Agnone . . .

The Jets' release of cornerback Andrew Davison this week was bizarre. The team is very thin at cornerback, and you would think after spending all last year, and much of this off-season developing Davison, they would at least bring him to training camp. Davison didn't look good in mini-camp, and this might have contributed to his departure. One thing that hurts the Kansas product is his lack of ideal speed . . .

One player who continues to impress this spring is wide receiver Chas Gessner. The Brown graduate has been "lights out" in practice according to one Jet player. The 6-5 Gessner is the tallest receiver on the Jets' roster, and is very good in traffic. He has excellent hands, something he displayed in college when he tied Jerry Rice's record for catches in one game with 24. He is a similar player in style to Drew Bennett, a 6-5 wideout who has excelled in Tennessee under the Jets' new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger. Don't be shocked if Gessner beats out Jonathan Carter for the #5 receiver job . . .

The Jets' already thin pro personnel department got thinner when Brian Gaine left to take a job with the Dallas Cowboys. Gaine was the team's assistant pro personnel director. The team has yet to name a replacement. If they decide not to fill the spot, this could hurt the team's ability to evaluate the players on other team's rosters. Mike Tannenbaum is heavily involved in this, but his expertise is cap management. He's a work-in-progress in player evaluation.

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