There is no shortage of current and former NFL players weighing in on the Urban Meyer scandal these days. Former New York Jets and New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma became the latest to add his two cents to the national conversation. The former Miami Hurricane has been in several interesting locker room situations himself. He shared how he thinks the different levels of Jacksonville Jaguars players are reacting to their head coach’s transgressions.
Jonathan Vilma knows locker room dysfunction
Jonathan Vilma was a three-time Pro Bowl linebacker who played 10 seasons in the NFL. He was an excellent player and just a level below the true greats of his era like Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, and Patrick Willis.
The South Florida native played college ball for the Miami Hurricanes. The U is famous for its big personalities. And the teams Vilma played on were no exception. The linebacker shared a locker room in college with guys like Ed Reed, Sean Taylor, Vince Wilfork, Clinton Portis, Kellen Winslow, and Jeremy Shockey.
As the No. 12 overall pick in 2004, Vilma went to one of the most historically dysfunctional teams in all of sports, the New York Jets. The linebacker’s tenure in green was up and down. However, he did go through two different 4-12 seasons with the Jets in 2005 and 2007. That last year was under short-lived head coach Eric Mangini.
The Jets traded Vilma to the Saints in 2008 and his six seasons in the Big Easy were mostly successful on the field. The only problem was that he found himself at the center of the Gregg Williams BountyGate scandal.
Suffice it to say, Vilma spent time in some wild locker rooms, which makes him the perfect person to weigh in on the Urban Meyer scandal.
Vilma explained how different types of Jacksonville Jaguars players would react to the Urban Meyer scandal
Jonathan Vilma joined Ryen Russillo on the Ryen Russillo Podcast to discuss players’ reactions to the Urban Meyer scandal.
“Give me the real way you guys in the locker room would be talking about your coach,” Russillo prompted. “Who’s married, we saw a video of a girl grinding on him, and he has to apologize to all of you. And you’re also 0-4 on top of everything else.
Vilma then took a layered approach to the question. He said that the reaction would be different for the different types of players in the locker room.
The former linebacker started with the lowest players on the team totem pole:
If I am a bubble player, I’m not saying s***. I am going to get up early. I’m going to get my a** to work, and I’m going to practice my butt off and make sure I’m still on this team come the following Monday.Jonathan Vilma on bubble players’ reaction to the Urban Meyer scandal
He then described the reaction from mid-level players who aren’t in danger of getting cut but might not be on the Jaguars next season:
If I am paid and already checked out, 0-4, already checked out, I mean, I’m cracking jokes all day long, right? That’s what we do in the locker room, crack jokes.Jonathan Vilma on mid-leve players’ reaction to the Urban Meyer scandal
Finally, he described what it’s like for the team leaders who have a vested interest in the franchise succeeding:
Now, if I am a leader and a captain, and I’m really trying to right this ship, I’m going to maybe have one big joke in front of everybody, and Urban’s just going to have to laugh it off, and then we got to move on.Jonathan Vilma on Jaguars leaders’ reaction to the Urban Meyer scandal
Vilma’s explanation is a fascinating look at an NFL locker room and how different types of players react to situations.
The Jaguars players are laughing at Meyer
NFL reporter Michael Silver was the first to report that the Jacksonville Jaguars players are laughing at their head coach.
In a tweet from October 5, right after the Urban Meyer scandal broke, Silver quoted anonymous Jaguars players. One said that, following Meyer’s less-than-forthcoming explanation of the events of the night in question, “We looked at him like, WTF? Right when he left everyone started dying laughing. And he knew it.”
Two days later, video emerged from Jaguars’ practice of the team breaking a huddle by all shouting, “Grind!” which certainly seems like a thinly-veiled reference to the woman at the bar grinding on Coach Meyer.
Whether these jokes are the start of the healing process or a sign that the former college coach has completely lost the respect of his team remains to be seen.
The next opportunity to play armchair psychologist with the psyche of the Jacksonville Jaguars comes on Sunday. That’s when the team hosts the division-rival Tennessee Titans.