Many New York Jets fans were outraged this week after a “non-story” to some became a talking point on social media. Offensive tackle Mekhi Becton was not in attendance when voluntary April workouts began on April 18 and is not expected to join his teammates until OTAs — but he had a pretty good reason why.
“The third reason not to freak out about Becton’s absence is that he has a valid excuse,” wrote beat reporter DJ Bien-Aime of the New York Daily News. “His fiancee is pregnant and is due to give birth at any moment, according to sources close to the situation. He’s also training in Dallas with his personal trainer Duke Manyweather.”
Bien-Aime’s first two reasons were that the workouts are voluntary, and it’s only April. Despite this, another member of the Jets beat called the former first-round pick out publicly for missing this early portion of the offseason program, and it was met with a very negative response from NYJ faithful.
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Hughes’ Criticism Sparks Player Response
The Athletic’s Connor Hughes was the reporter who criticized Becton on Twitter.
He stated: “There is zero reason Mekhi Becton shouldn’t be at the Jets offseason program. He & [Connor] McGovern are the only linemen not in attendance, and McGovern (out because his wife had a baby) will be there Monday. Everyone else sees value in being there, but Becton doesn’t need it?”
A follow-up tweet got the attention of 2021 team captain Justin Hardee.
“Jets stressed importance of this year for Mekhi Becton during exit meetings — needed a huge jump, which involved staying in shape, renewed determination, better on-field performance. Skipping the offseason program every one of [your] fellow linemen showed up for? Not great,” Hughes voiced.
Hardee’s response was as follows: “Y’all gotta chill with the narrative to break players down. His child comes first.”
The veteran team leader is referencing Becton’s girlfriend, Kay, who is currently pregnant as Bien-Aime reported and supposedly due any day now. What made Hughes’ initial tweet appear less understanding was that he highlighted McGovern’s parental leave but did not grant Becton the same courtesy.
It’s unclear if this was an oversight or not, as Hughes has yet to address the initial tweets.
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Response From Jets Twitter
As we mentioned in the open, Jets Twitter was not happy with Hughes’ take on Becton. Many voiced their opinion but few verified accounts were as outspoken as The Jet Press.
“Sure I’d like to see Becton with the team, but it’s April,” the publication began. “As long as he’s putting in the work that’s what matters. The results will speak for themselves come training camp and Week 1. Anything now is just outrage for the sake of outrage.”
The Jet Press followed: “Another note on why Mekhi Becton is probably working out closer to home: He and his girlfriend are having a baby that’s due next month.”
Continuing: “The level of scrutiny and criticism OF THEIR OWN PERSONAL LIVES that professional athletes endure is so wild. A man is weeks away from having a baby and he’s being criticized for not attending a voluntary workout. Y’all need to find real things to be upset about… Be upset if he shows up out of shape for OTAs and camp. Spare me the fake outrage in April when a man is trying to be there for his pregnant girlfriend while continuing to grind with his own personal trainers.”
Many Jets supporters echoed this opinion. Some of the well-liked responses from fans are listed below.
“Bro he literally has a child about to be due,” one fan commented. Another wrote: “Your vendetta against him is bizarre. Excusing [McGovern’s] absence while vilifying Becton’s seems personal and weird.”
“0 relevance. None of that can be proven now anyway. Plus his GF due soon. Stop it with the Mekhi slander enough is enough,” another said.
Finally, one referenced an old tweet from Hughes that appeared unconcerned with Le’Veon Bell missing April workouts. “You had ZERO issue when Bell did it… [Becton] has a child on the way, why don’t you let the man work instead of tearing him down.”