Robby Anderson remembers the call to Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan on the morning of Jan. 19.
The wide receiver had just spent the night in the Broward County (Fla.) jail after getting arrested following a traffic stop, his second arrest in eight months. Now, Anderson had to call the GM, who believed in him enough to sign him in 2016 as an undrafted free agent out of Temple.
“He understood the situation,” Anderson said Wednesday, recalling the conversation. “I was honest with him about what happened. I explained to him the truth. He was just giving me a heart-to-heart, man-to-man talk.”
The cries from some fans and media members came immediately for the Jets to cut Anderson.
“People want to see you fall,” Anderson said.
But the organization believed him when he denied the salacious details of the police report and said he was not guilty of what he was being accused of. The Jets stuck by him.
“It means the world to me that they believed in me,” Anderson said.
The Jets have been proven correct in their trust of Anderson … so far. He was eventually cleared of all charges except a traffic violation. The NFL announced last week he would not face suspension. Anderson has stayed out of trouble, and on Sunday he made a huge impact in a 34-16 win over the Broncos — with two touchdowns, including a 76-yarder that showcased his blazing speed.
It would be premature to write Anderson’s redemption story. He still has a long way to go to show he is no longer going to appear in the police blotter, but listening to and watching Anderson in the first month of the season makes you want to believe he has turned the corner.
The 25-year-old will be a restricted free agent this offseason then an unrestricted free agent in 2020. The Jets will have to decide whether to hand Anderson a big payday, something that could be viewed as a risky proposition with his recent arrest history.
“I don’t worry about that because in all actuality if they didn’t believe in me and they didn’t trust me and they didn’t know who I really was, they would have gotten rid of me already,” Anderson said. “Not to sound any type of way, but it’s just facts. They know me. They know the situation. We have an honest relationship with each other.”
Anderson knows there are plenty of people waiting for him to fail.
“You can’t live to please others,” he said. “It’s sad to say, but in our society more people get a kick out of bad things happening to people. It’s entertaining. It’s something for them to talk about. That’s what they want to see. A lot of people don’t want to praise you. They don’t want to congratulate you. But they’ll damn sure be happy to spread news about bad things happening to you and drama. That’s just the way our world is. People get a kick out of it. They like negativity. They like drama.”
Many people (hand raised) were watching Anderson through the first four weeks of this season. After having a breakout year in 2017, Anderson and rookie quarterback Sam Darnold did not look like they were on the same page early this season. After a 41-yard touchdown in Week 1, Anderson’ s only catch in that game, Anderson had total receiving yards of 27, 22 and 18 in the next three games.
Would Anderson complain? Would he show up Darnold in a game with body language?
The answers were no. Instead, Anderson said he stayed positive and spent time working with Darnold after practice to build chemistry. On Sunday, it paid off with two big touchdown catches and 123 yards receiving.
“Robby is a worker,” coach Todd Bowles said. “He just kept his head down. He knew his time was coming. He just worked and kept his head down and tried to do all of the little things to help the team win. I was proud of him about that.”
So what could the offense look like if Darnold and Anderson start connecting like that on a regular basis?
“I think it speaks for itself,” Anderson said.
Just like the Jets’ belief in Anderson did this offseason.
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