Santonio Holmes let down his seemingly impenetrable guard a couple weeks ago for just a few moments. For the first time in a long time, he sounded human, not angry or bitter or fed up dealing with people who were surely going to bend his words to fit their own pre-determined narratives. “To have years like this and last year that are limiting (my) opportunity to help this team, (is) really challenging,” Holmes said.

He has been painted as the team villain for more than two years. A well-respected teammate once told me that Holmes was a “cancer” and that being around him was “like dealing with a 10-year-old.”
Holmes despises reporters. From the moment he proclaimed to me after an offseason workout in Florida two years ago that “the media don’t make me and the media don’t break me,” I knew that he genuinely didn’t care about his image. He just wanted to catch footballs, win games and be left alone.

“He is really misunderstood,” wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal told the Daily News. “I can honestly say that.”
Holmes still hates people like me (especially me), but the injuries that have robbed him of much of the past year and a half have given him perspective and made him a better teammate. He’s expected to return this week from a nagging hamstring injury that sidelined him for five games, a welcome sight for a team in the thick of the wildcard race.

“He has been a model citizen so far,” a Jets insider said. “Besides, we need him.”