Yesterday against the Dolphins, Jets coach Todd Bowles benched two of his best players, Mo Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, for the first quarter. Bowles declined to reveal to the press why he sat two of the team’s only indispensable players during a quarter in which the Dolphins put up two touchdowns, but one report attributed Wilkerson’s benching to a particularly sad event: the skipping of a birthday celebration planned for him by his teammates.
That is per NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo, who reported today that Wilkerson missed a walk-through prior to the Jets’ loss to the Ravens on October 23, in which his teammates had ordered a cake to celebrate his birthday. Via NFL.com:
Muhammad Wilkerson apparently never got that memo. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, citing two sources close to the team, reported on Monday’s edition of Up To The Minute Live that the Jets’ star defensive lineman missed a walk-thru before the team’s Week 7 game against the Ravens as well as planned gathering in a defensive meeting room to celebrate Wilkerson’s 27th birthday.
“I’m told they even had a cake ready to go for him and he didn’t show up,” said Garafolo, in a quote that should be on the tombstone of this lost Jets season.
Though Wilkerson missed that game against the Ravens with a bum ankle, he did end up playing the next week against the Browns, so Bowles may have just waited to bench him until this past Sunday because he was fully healthy. Richardson was also reportedly held out of yesterday’s game for missing meetings, and various reports have stated that the two defensive linemen play hooky together often. (This was at least the second time that Wilkerson was benched for the first quarter of a game due to tardiness.)
Wilkerson signed a five-year extension this summer that reportedly guarantees $54 million in the first three seasons, so he and the Jets will have to figure all of this out somehow. Maybe he prefers piñatas?