Instead of tossing aside Robby Anderson and Dylan Donahue, each of whom has been arrested twice since May, New York Jets CEO Christopher Johnson said the organization wants to keep them and will help the players work through their issues.
But leniency has its limits.
“My patience isn’t infinite,” Johnson told reporters Sunday at the league meetings in Orlando, Florida. “I expect those guys to straighten up, and I’m going to talk to them about that.”
Donahue was charged with drunk driving in two separate incidents (in both cases, he was involved in a car accident), and Anderson is facing felony charges from two arrests in South Florida — resisting arrest in one case, and threatening to sexually assault a police officer’s wife in the other.
Some teams would have fired them already. The Jets are trying to rehabilitate them.
“I’m really disappointed, but I think these guys deserve the support of the team,” said Johnson, pausing to gather his emotions. “They deserve a second chance. We have a really good support system with the team, and I think we can help these guys.”
Anderson is one of their top offensive players; Donahue was a fifth-round draft pick in 2017.
In the aftermath of his second DWI, in February, Donahue checked into a treatment facility, as ESPN first reported. Johnson has yet to speak with Donahue since the second arrest, but he has talked to Anderson.
Johnson said he became “pretty good friends” with Anderson last season.
“I have a lot of respect for that young man, and I want to see him succeed,” Johnson said. “I’m hopeful he will.”
This is a slippery slope for the Jets’ CEO, because Anderson’s alleged remarks to the police officer in his second arrest, in January, were disturbing. Johnson was asked what he would tell the parent of a young kid who wears Anderson’s No. 11 jersey. He paused.
“That’s a good question,” he said. “I’m really hopeful Robby will put this kind of thing behind him and he will be the kind of person — forget about his playing, he’s an incredible football player — who will make people all around proud to wear a No. 11 jersey.”
So, no, the Jets aren’t cutting Anderson and Donahue. Evidently, they aren’t cutting Rashard Robinson, either. In December, Robinson was arrested for possession of marijuana-laced candy.
Johnson claimed the Jets don’t have a discipline problem.
“I don’t think so, I really don’t,” he said. “I think we can get these guys back on track. Young men sometimes are young men. They make silly mistakes. I’m hoping we can be part of helping them become better people.”
Johnson might wish he could have a mulligan on his use of the word “silly.” Driving the wrong way in the Lincoln Tunnel and colliding with a passenger bus isn’t a silly mistake; it’s a serious error in judgment that could have been tragic. Nevertheless, the Jets are standing by their players.
At some point, the league will determine if disciplinary action is needed. It wouldn’t be a shock if Anderson and Donahue are suspended.