A few weeks ago when the Kelechi Osemele-Jets feud was reaching its boiling point, I was talking to a veteran Jets player in the locker room about it. He pointed to guard Brian Winters, who was sitting at his locker.
“Do you have any idea what he is playing through?” the player asked. “He is one of the toughest guys I’ve ever seen.”
The player made the point that most of the players on the team could have surgery if they elected to. That is the nature of football. But Winters was an example of a guy you would have to drag off the field.
Winters’ body finally gave out on Sunday when his left shoulder popped out of its socket as he tried to throw a block. The shoulder had been bothering Winters since the summer when it was dislocated the first time. He also was playing with an injured knee.
“He’s putting duct tape all over his body right now, he’s banged up,” Jets coach Adam Gase said last month. “But he’s fighting through it, he’s giving us everything that he’s got.”
In 2017, Winters played with a torn abdominal muscle. An injury that would prevent most of us from getting out of bed could not keep Winters off the field.
Winters may not be the best player to ever wear a Jets uniform. But he may be the toughest. Winters has played 89 games for the Jets, the fifth-most among guards in team history. His Jets career may have ended Sunday. He has no more guaranteed money left on his contract and the Jets need to overhaul the line.
His grit won’t be forgotten by those who played with him.