Bryan Cox, fined more than $100,000 for violent outbursts during his career, contends he was "blackballed" by NFL teams until being signed by the New York Jets.
The linebacker, who was signed by the Jets two months after being cut by the Chicago Bears, said Monday he had been close to signing with other teams the past few weeks, only to see the agreements fall through.
"I all but had deals on the table with two or three teams and the day I was supposed to leave to sign, my agent called me back and said the deal was off," said Cox, a three-time Pro Bowl selection. "I was getting blackballed."
Jets coach Bill Parcells, however, was quick to recruit Cox after the club's star middle linebacker, Marvin Jones, tore ligaments in his left knee last Friday. Jones, a former first-round draft selection, will have season-ending surgery this week.
"The slate is clean as far as I'm concerned," Parcells said of Cox. "I don't ask that anybody's personality correspond to mine. I told him, `Just be Bryan Cox.' I just want him to come in here and help the team. He'll know what we're trying to do here. I think he wants to win. He's going to try hard and that's all I am about."
Besides, Parcells added, "He's the one paying the fines, not me."
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Cox has been temporarily installed as the backup to Mo Lewis at strongside linebacker. It's likely that his long-term spot will be in the middle of the Jets' 4-3 defensive scheme, where journeyman Dwayne Gordon and veteran Pepper Johnson currently are fighting for the starting role.
"He wants a chance to be a starter," Parcells said of Cox. "I told him I'm playing him behind Mo right now, though he could play in substitute situations. I told him, `Let me see what you can do and maybe we'll expand your role."
The 30-year-old Cox, who landed a one-year, $500,000 deal witno signing bonus, participated in two-a-day workouts on Monday. He'll see limited action in Thursday's preseason opener at Philadelphia.
"I told him I'm going to work him in slow, and not try to prove anything to me right now," Parcells said. "I told him to just come back and get acclimated to football. We've got a month to do it. Our goal is Sept. 6 (for the season opener against the host 49ers), not right now."
Cox, who has compiled 39- ½ sacks during his career, said he agrees with Parcells' game plan.
"I know a little bit about Bill Parcells' style," Cox said. "When he called me, I was on the golf course. He said, `You trust me, I trust you. When you come in, give me what you've got, go at your pace, use training camp to get ready for the season. Logistically, you're not going to be a starter. Instead of playing 1,300 plays, you'll pay 600 or 800."
"I still feel like I'm starting material," Cox added. "But I don't want to be the Man, the guy with the big salary and all the expectations. I want to be part of a group of guys that win."
Cox couldn't guarantee that he wouldn't boil over with anger again, but said that Parcells' commitment to winning would make a difference.
"Losing is no fun to me," Cox said. "I don't want to be associated with people who accept losing. I don't accept losing. Sometimes that causes me to go berserk.
"I don't want to be in a situation where the focus is not on winning. This is a violent game, and when you're asking a player to be violent and then to say, `Cool it,' it's difficult to do."
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