Kelechi Osemele says he's having shoulder surgery; still not authorized by Jets

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The injury dispute between the New York Jets and former Pro Bowl guard Kelechi Osemele has reached a new level, with Osemele saying Wednesday that he will have surgery Friday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, even if it's not authorized by the team.

Kelechi said he received a third opinion Tuesday from a Boston-based doctor, who recommended immediate surgery. Kelechi said the injury is "pretty bad" and his labrum is "torn off the bone."

He shared what he said was the doctor's note in an Instagram post Wednesday.

The Jets haven't commented on the matter, but sources say they believe Osemele can play through the pain and have surgery after the season. The organization is fining him for conduct detrimental to the team because he isn't practicing.

Osemele confirmed that he is being fined the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement: $579,000 per week, the amount of his game checks.

The Jets haven't responded to his decision to have surgery Friday, he said.

"We sent them the full doctor's report [Wednesday morning]," Osemele told reporters in the locker room. "We don't know yet. They have been cooperative. They sent the worker's comp forms that I needed to get the surgery, so it's moving forward.

"I think they're doing their best to do the right thing. Now that they've done that, it's really their decision whether they choose to authorize it or not. But I have to take care of my body. I have to take care of my health."

In a statement to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Osemele's agents, Andrew Kessler and David Mulugheta, said the Jets' insurance provider has approved the surgery. They said if the Jets don't authorize the surgery beforehand, Osemele will have his rights under the CBA enforced through the legal process.

The NFL Players Association sent a tweet Thursday morning back Osemele and saying the union was exploring its options.

Osemele said the Jets initially sent a blank MRI to his second-opinion doctor. On the second try, they sent the wrong MRI before finally getting it right. Osemele said general manager Joe Douglas told him that it was an honest mistake. He said Douglas was "upset" when he informed him recently that he wanted surgery.

The Jets claim that Osemele had a preexisting injury when he arrived in March via trade with the Oakland Raiders, a source said. Osemele said he wasn't aware of that and he didn't start to feel pain until Aug. 5. He said he took Toradol injections for the first three regular-season games. In that period, he never appeared on the injury report for his shoulder, which could land the team in hot water.

"I went as long as I could on painkillers," he said. "They were masking the pain. Now it's at the point where I can't do anything about it."

Osemele said the team "wants me to keep taking Toradol and brace it up." Sources said the team is suspicious of the timing because it claims that Osemele didn't start complaining until he was on the verge of losing his starting job after Week 3.

Financially, it behooves him to have the surgery now so he can rehab and be healthy for the offseason, when he presumably will be released by the Jets.

"Once [the painkiller] stops working and it doesn't do anything for you anymore, then you're at the point where it's 'Now what do I do? Do I take Vicodin? Where's the line? How much should a player play through pain? What is the limit? Is there a limit? Does my health really matter?'"

Coach Adam Gase declined comment, saying the team wants to keep the matter in-house.

Osemele on Monday filed a grievance and held a conference call with the NFLPA to discuss its strategy. He said that what the team is doing is "ethically and morally wrong" and he feels "slightly disrespected."

Osemele said he has received support from his teammates, adding, "[They're] saying, like, 'It's bulls---. Sorry for what you're going through. I can't believe this is happening.' S--- like that."

The Jets inherited the final two years of Osemele's contract -- a total of $21.9 million -- when they acquired him from the Raiders. The remainder of his salary this season ($5.79 million) is guaranteed because he's a vested veteran and is entitled to one-time termination pay.