Rex Ryan stepped to the podium, looked out at the cameras and opened his news conference with a warning.
“You’re not going to believe this one,” the New York Jets coach declared without any hint of a smile.
In what has been a bizarre season, the Jets’ wacky quarterback situation took yet another twist. Greg McElroy has a concussion – which he didn’t reveal until Thursday – and will be replaced by Mark Sanchez as the starter in the season finale at Buffalo on Sunday.
“We’ve come to find out that Greg wasn’t exactly truthful with our training staff after the game,” said Ryan, who acknowledged he was “stunned” to hear the news. “He never disclosed that he had symptoms after the game to our trainers. Right now, he’s being evaluated for a concussion.”
McElroy, preparing to make his second NFL start in place of the benched Sanchez, was lifting weights Thursday and started experiencing headaches, Ryan said. McElroy went to the team’s training staff and then revealed he was suffering concussion-like symptoms after being sacked 11 times in the Jets’ 27-17 loss to San Diego last Sunday.
McElroy and head trainer John Mellody then went to Ryan to tell the coach the news. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano said he was “pretty silent” when he found out a few minutes after Ryan.
“It’s another bump in the road here,” Sparano said, “and it’s something we’ve become a little accustomed to dealing with.”
Ryan chose to start Sanchez over Tim Tebow because the team has just two practices and a walkthrough to prepare before the game. He also cited Sanchez’s success against the Bills in the season opener, when he threw three touchdown passes in the Jets’ 48-28 win.
“I’m excited to play, obviously,” Sanchez said. “You just never want to see something like that happen to a teammate, somebody I really respect. You feel for Greg and I’ll be ready to play.”
Around the league
Dallas Cowboys NT Josh Brent was driving with a suspended license and had a blood-alcohol content more than twice the legal limit at the time of the car crash that killed teammate and friend Jerry Brown, according to documents released by police. Brent was tested after the crash in the early hours of Dec. 8 at 0.189 percent, well above the Texas limit of 0.08. … A person familiar with the penalty said the NFL has fined Panthers QB Cam Newton $21,000 for abusive conduct toward a game official. Newton shouted at and bumped referee Jerome Boger in the fourth quarter of Carolina’s 17-6 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. … Beloved Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, 75, said he has every intention of returning in 2013 for what would be a 55th consecutive season in the NFL. … Romeo Crennel joined a long list of Chiefs dealing with illness and injury. Kansas City’s coach was hobbling around on crutches after having fluid drained from his left knee. Crennel said he plans to coach from the sideline as usual on Sunday at Denver.