Damien Woody On His Release: “In these uncertain times, they had to do what was in the best interest of the New York Jets.”March 2, 2011 – 8:30 am by Michael Bean
You hear players say it all the time: the NFL is a business. It sounds awfully cliched at times coming from the mouths of millionaire athletes who have very little concept of what business decisions entail. But ultimately, they are right. The NFL is a billion dollar business where personal relationships, loyalty, and past performance can be thrown out the window on short notice. That’s exactly what happened to New York Jets guard Damien Woody, who was released on Monday. Woody hasn’t played his entire career in New York. In fact, he’s only spent three of his twelve seasons with the Jets, but he had played a big role in helping transform the Jets’ offensive line into one of the league’s better units since his arrival from Detroit in 2008. As you’ll hear, Woody isn’t bitter about being released at this stage in his career. He knows the routine and how nobody’s immune to the reality of ‘business’ decisions in this league. He just hopes to get himself healthy in time to continue his long and productive career during the 2011 season, whenever that may be.
Woody joined The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio New York to talk about when he found out that he’d been released by the Jets, what it’s like emotionally to be cut from a team that he’s invested so much into, how he has every intention of playing in 2011, how he had a chance to speak to GM Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan following about his release, and how his gut tells him that a lockout is on the horizon.
On when he found that he’d been released by the Jets:
“Well my agent told me yesterday morning so I knew pretty early in the day. Nothing surprises me in this business, because at the end of the day it is business. A lot of factors went into it, especially with these uncertain times in the NFL right now. But I’m the type of person to dwell on the positives, and I’ve had a great run with the team, a really good three years, some really good teammates and coaches and stuff like that, and the organization treated me well. So it was definitely a great ride while I was here.”
On what it’s like emotionally to learn that you’ve been cut:
“Well actually this is the first time being released in my twelve year career, so this is something that’s totally new to me. But as an older player in this league, I know things like this happen. It inevitably happens to every player at some point, guys usually get released. So it’s not something that caught me off guard or I was completely surprised, it’s something that happens all the time. So you’ve just got to take it with a grain of salt and just move on. You never know what could happen. It could be a situation where I could be back later on — that possibility was left open. But as of right now, I’m just focusing on my rehab.”
So he still plans on playing in 2011?
“No question, no question. I still feel like I’m playing at a high level. I missed a couple games last year due to injury, but the time I did play in the season and throughout my tenure here, I played at a high level. So by no means do I feel like I should give it up. I still feel like I can contribute a lot whether it’s with the Jets or another organization.”
Whether GM Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan had an opportunity to talk to him in the wake of the news:
“Yeah, yeah. They both called me yesterday just to explain the situation. We have a great relationship. I have a really good relationship with Mike and he just explained the situation. And Rex was around the phone and we just talked. The players, we all view Rex as one of the guys. And we just had a nice conversation. I completely understand. I completely understand where they’re coming from, and like I said, at the end of the day it’s business. And in these uncertain times, they had to do what was in the best interest of the New York Jets. So at the end of the day they’re going to do what’s best for them, and I’m going to do what’s best for me and my family.”
Whether in his gut he feels there will be a lockout:
“I do think there’s going to be a lockout and I’m the eternal optimist — I always look at everything as the glass is half full as opposed to half empty. But it just seems right now that there are so many issues that need to be resolved in a short period of time, I just don’t think everything will get resolved before the deal here ends. So I do think there’s going to be a lockout. The one feeling that I have — it’s just a general gut feeling — is both sides feel pretty strong about their positions in everything. So I don’t think this is something that’s just going to get resolved in a couple of days. I think this thing could take weeks, or maybe a couple of months before this thing ends.”