The showdown between Kelechi Osemele and the Jets heated up on Saturday when the guard refused to practice and the team, as promised, hit him with a fine.
The 30-year-old Osemele was unable to practice, according to his agent Andrew Kessler, because of the shoulder injury that is at the center of his dispute with the team. Osemele says doctors have told him he needs season-ending shoulder surgery, but the Jets disagree and ordered him to return to the field on Saturday.
When he didn't, he was fined an undisclosed amount, according to a source.
The Jets also listed the 6-4, 330-pound Osemele as "doubtful" for their game against the New England Patriots on Monday night, however he won't be in the lineup since he says he is physically unable to play. He hasn't played since Week 3 due to what he says is a torn labrum in his shoulder. Osemele said a team doctor and an independent doctor in California confirmed the tear and recommended season-ending surgery. The Jets, though, pushed back on that on Friday with team sources saying the two doctors did not recommend surgery and said Osemele can play through the pain.
The doctors also determined that it was a pre-existing injury, the team source said. Osemele, however, said he suffered the injury in Jets training camp on Aug. 5 and re-aggravated in Week 3 in New England.
"I think they just want me to play through the injury, but obviously I tried to go and I can't go," Osemele told reporters on Friday. "I've been doing everything I can and it's just not there. I can't control that. It's an injury. It's torn. So until it's fixed, I can't really do anything."
Andrew Kessler, Osemele's agent, called the Jets' stance "disappointing" in a statement e-mailed to SNY on Friday and questioned the organization's commitment to Osemele's safety.
"Kelechi has a torn labrum, there is no debate about this as every doctor who has evaluated him agrees about that,'' Kessler wrote. ''He has been advised by the second opinion doctor that the timing of the need for surgery is based on his symptoms. His symptoms currently dictate that he needs surgery. For the team to question the integrity of how he has told them he is physically feeling is disappointing, to say the least.
"It is hardly putting a priority on player safety.''
Much of the dispute appears centered around the remainder of Osemele's $9.85 million salary. If he underwent season-ending surgery and was placed on injured reserve, he would be due the remaining $5.79 million. However if he tried to play through it and then was cut by the Jets, he'd lose whatever remained.
It's not clear what will happen next with Osemele and the Jets. The team's next practice is scheduled for Wednesday, and presumably this will all repeat then if the dispute is not resolved. The Jets also could eventually suspend him for conduct detrimental to the team.
It is likely that any discipline by the Jets will be appealed.