What began as a normal April Monday quickly took a turn for New York Jets fans as veteran guard Greg Van Roten engaged critics on Twitter — and he didn’t hold back.
A Tom Pelissero tweet from March 29 was the root of the discussion. “On locker room access for media, @NFLprguy chimes in: ‘They will be open.’ Another step back towards normality,” stated the NFL insider.
Van Roten — a union player rep for the Jets — voiced his opinion: “Call me old fashioned, but, it seems inappropriate to have cameras where we are changing.”
During a follow-up, ‘GVR’ called locker room access an “outdated ‘norm’” before referencing a photo of a nude Cincinnati Bengals player in the background of an interview. At this point, all was well and good in Jets land until an April 4 reply from a fan got Van Roten’s attention.
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GVR Decides to ‘Clear Something Up’
The comment came from an account named “Danny b,” who tweeted: “It’s all good don’t even stress it GVR is lucky if he’s even on this team to have to worry about locker room access. Old school btw is not calling out your rookie QB after his 3rd start when your one of the worst rated RGs in the league. @Connor_J_Hughes @Djbienaime @RichCimini.”
The response echoed the opinion of many throughout the 2021 season. Gang Green supporters have been vocal in their criticism of Van Roten’s productivity and his candid remarks after the Week 3 shutout in Denver had some fans calling for his job.
Van Roten’s answer was as follows: “He’s got to learn, this is the NFL, you’ve got to get the ball out. You can’t hold on to it trying to make a play and throw it deep down the field. And we’ve got to protect him better, it starts with us upfront. So we got to get on the same page, I thought we were better today with our communication for the most part… I know we weren’t very good on third down today and it starts with being in third-and-manageable.”
Even if GVR’s honesty had some accuracy to it, fans didn’t appreciate the beginning of the response, which many interpreted as pointing the blame at Zach Wilson after his third NFL start. Van Roten saw it differently and on April 4, he elected to clear the air in a four-tweet reply.
It read: “Since I’m tagged in this thread, let’s clear something up. I did not throw anyone under the bus. @Connor_J_Hughes asked a question during a press conference about Zach taking some ‘vicious hits’ and I gave a detailed answer… The media members that were there, the ones you tagged in your tweet, reported my entire answer in context. The twitter bloggers and podcasters that were not there, turned it into an out of context sound byte for clicks… I’m all for media having access to the players. But, it doesn’t need to be in the locker room… there are plenty of other venues to have your comments be taken out of context… Also, not sure what rating you’re referencing but I’d argue I’m an at or above average guard in the NFL, for what it’s worth.”
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Media & Fans Respond, GVR Still Loves Jets Fans
To his credit, beat reporter Connor Hughes was quick to reply after his Week 3 question was rehashed in April.
Hughes backed GVR, voicing: “Don’t rip Greg for that answer to that question. He didn’t throw Wilson under the bus. He provided legitimate analysis to the question, which included releasing the ball faster. That was among ways to help, and better than the cliches [others] give.”
Several fans countered as well, including one that joked “GVR will have issue with the ‘best fanbase tweet’ from [Kenny] Yeboah” last week.
Van Roten replied: “No issue, I love Jets fan. I grew up a Jets fan. I get it. We are a passionate bunch that want our team to have sustained success.”
Most focused on the “at or above average guard” part of his statement.
There were over 30 quote tweets on that final quote from GVR and most were negative, but the O-lineman didn’t back down. His replies included TV show GIFs, “self-awareness,” and a free film breakdown.
Here are the facts. Van Roten was benched in favor of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in 2021. The Jets were 3-7 during the 10 games he started, but the run game and pressure rate did appear to improve without GVR on the field. Neither is expected to start in 2022, however, being that general manager Joe Douglas elected to sign free agent Laken Tomlinson to a big-money deal in March.
Van Roten’s future with the franchise is uncertain at this time. He currently has one year left on his contract but has been rumored as a cut candidate. If he makes the roster in 2022, he’ll act as veteran depth on the offensive line.