Before Sal Alosi resigned under pressure from the New York Jets in the aftermath of his infamous tripping incident in 2010, he was known by the players as an intense, hard-driving strength and conditioning coach.
One former Jet, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he was "not shocked at all" by reports that Alosi -- now the strength coach at UCLA -- verbally accosted defensive back Justin Combs. That may have precipitated an alleged assault Monday by Combs' father, hip-hop mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs. Alosi "was riding Justin, screaming intensely at him," according to TMZ.com.
"He did that with the Jets," the former Jet said of Alosi's in-your-face approach.
Berating a player, of course, doesn't justify what allegedly happened next. After the ugly clash at UCLA, Combs, 45, was arrested and charged with suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon -- a weight-room kettlebell. He was released from jail after posting bond several hours after the incident. He also was charged with one count of making terrorist threats and one count of battery.
Former Jets coach Rex Ryan once referred to Alosi as the best strength coach in the NFL. In the locker room, there were mixed opinions of Alosi. Former Jets defensive lineman Mike DeVito, now with the Kansas City Chiefs, once said he wouldn't have made it in the league if it weren't for Alosi and his training techniques. Others chafed at his methods.
"He wasn't too flexible," the anonymous former Jet said. "It was his way or the highway. He was definitely a hard-ass."
When he heard the coach involved in the Combs incident was Alosi, the former Jet said he thought to himself, "Yep, that sounds like it."
Alosi's life changed forever on Dec. 12, 2010, when he tripped Miami Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll as the player ran past the Jets' sideline while covering a punt. At first, Alosi was suspended indefinitely by the team, but more information trickled out and he eventually was forced to resign from his $200,000-a-year job about a month after the incident.
The disgraced former coach became a national punchline. In fact, when Ryan made an appearance the following spring on "The Late Show" with David Letterman, he was peppered with questions about Alosi.
Alosi became a personal trainer in New Jersey, working out of his garage, before accepting a job at tiny Bryant College in Smithfield, Rhode Island. Working in relative anonymity, he got a chance to rebuild his career, eventually landing a job at UCLA. I last spoke to Alosi in the fall of 2011, just shy of the one-year anniversary of the tripping debacle.
I wrote an article about it, but he didn't want to be quoted, perhaps because of a confidentiality agreement with the Jets. He was remorseful, wishing he could take back that one, split-second impulse that nearly ruined his career. He was grateful to Bryant for giving him a second chance, but I could tell he longed for the opportunity to get back to a high-profile position. That, he did.