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Want to be happy, Peyton? Then Jets worst possible place for you

by | CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

So now we have Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim weighing in on Peyton Manning's future, with Boeheim saying Thursday he thinks Manning "should really go to the Jets."

OK, that's his opinion. It’s a free country. But I have an opinion, too, and it's this: Stick to basketball, Jim.

Instead of listening to Jim Boeheim, I suggest Manning listen to running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who spent the past two seasons with the Jets. Tomlinson was there when the Jets went to the 2010 AFC Championship Game, and he was there when the bottom fell out one year later, with the Jets eviscerated in Miami in the season finale.

So he has a perspective that Boeheim does not, and what he told Showtime's Inside the NFL earlier this year was that there was so much "turmoil" within the club it was "as bad as I've been around, honestly. And I've been around some locker-room and quarterback-receiver situations and what-not. And it was as bad as I've been around."

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At last month's NFL scouting combine, coach Rex Ryan took the blame for his club's meltdown, saying he made "a huge mistake" by guaranteeing the Jets would reach the Super Bowl. Now if that sounds odd, it should. Ryan guaranteed the Jets in the Super Bowl in the 2009 playoffs, and his team thrived. He guaranteed the Jets in the Super Bowl a year later, and they took off again.

So now, suddenly, it's those same words that are a huge mistake?

No, the mistake the Jets made was that they didn't have a running game, didn't have pass rush, didn't have a locker-room leader and did have Santonio Holmes. Last time I checked, nothing has changed there, except for Ryan's admission that he was the problem -- which, in fact, is the problem itself.

The Jets don't have the players or leadership to go to the Super Bowl, and they don't need an alibi. They need a direction. Somehow, I don't think one guy is going to change that.

Plus, there's this: Manning would live in the same area code and play in the same stadium as brother, Eli, and while that's good for family visits, it's not good for either. Eli and the Giants are New York's team, not the Jets, and I can't imagine Big Brother wanting to change that.

I know he's competitive and likes beating his brother ... but on the field, not in the back pages of the Post and Daily News.

Then there's Ryan, a head coach who couldn't be more unlike Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell, Manning's last two mentors in Indianapolis. Ryan is a brash, in-your face, loudmouth who is funny, outspoken and occasionally careless with his remarks. One writer described him as taking a "scorched-earth approach" to the game, and I'd say that has it just about right. I'd also say that doesn't exactly fit Manning's mannered style.

Last, he would have to play in the same division as Tom Brady, and while that might seem attractive, anyone who steps in the AFC East while Brady is standing plays for second place. You can look it up. Of Brady's 10 complete seasons as a starter, the Patriots won the division nine times. The lone exception: 2002, when they tied for first place and lost to the Jets in a tiebreaker.

I know, this is Peyton Manning. But tell me what happened when future Hall of Famer Brett Favre took over the Jets. Uh-huh, nothing. He was the reason the team drafted Mark Sanchez.

But in the end, it comes down to a player's happiness and comfort zone, and what Tomlinson told us was that he had neither last season. It wasn't just that the Jets stunk down the stretch; it's that they were a dysfunctional organization that had a team captain who quit on his quarterback and his teammates.

And that guy is back.

I guess what I'm saying is: What does Peyton Manning have to gain from joining the Jets, other than more millions of dollars? Fame? He has it. Endorsements? He has them. Another division title? Not so fast. A better supporting cast? Not on your life. Happiness? See Brett Favre.

Bottom line: Jim Boeheim is wrong. Peyton Manning should not really go to the Jets. He should stay away ... at all costs.


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