As much as Jermaine Jones might have wished to move on from his Saturday night scuffle with Felipe Martins, talk of the encounter has not really died down. Most recently, Felipe Martins told Metro sports writer Kristian Dyer that Jones misunderstood him, and that the two had texted each other after the match to clear the air.
"Jermaine Jones came up with this thing that said I spoke about his family. I was very, very mad. I'm a guy who loves to win, has a passion for this sport," Martins told Metro. "I'm sometimes hard on the field, I fight to win but I'll never disrespect anyone with hard words about family. I'm a guy who has a family, a kid and a wife. I think he misunderstood me."
"He texted me back and said [that] I misunderstood you, I didn't understand what you were saying or maybe I heard something else or somebody else - [that] I'm sorry for that. [Those were] his words," Martins said. "I just want that to be clear because I don't want to, first of all, be involved in this kind of stuff. Second, we play against each other but at the end [of the day] we are all players. We have to respect each other."
Jones either has not been asked or has not bothered to reveal whether or not that text conversation happened or the contents of the conversation. That said, Jones' last word on the issue was that he was letting it go and wishing Felipe luck, so he probably just doesn't want to talk about it.
Then New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch doubled down on it. Accusing Jones of possibly fabricating the entire thing, he claimed to "know for a fact that Felipe never said anything about his family," and said that Jones should issue a public retraction of his comments. He even cited some manner of "player code," and claimed that it was a defamation of Felipe's character.
First of all, it's a stretch to say that Jones' comments constituted a defamation of character. Smack talk is part of any competitive venture, and anything Felipe may or may not have said about Jones' family is probably child's play compared to what both players have experienced throughout their careers. There probably aren't too many people out there - at least not anyone whose opinion really matters - who would suddenly look at Felipe differently because he mouthed off to Jermaine Jones about Jones' family in the heat of the moment after a tough loss when Jones was engaging in some light gloating.
Second of all, is this really coming from Jesse Marsch? Let's walk it back to 2007, when Jesse Marsch was a hard-tackling midfielder playing for Chivas USA. Who wouldn't remember Marsch's perfectly-executed roundhouse kick to David Beckham's right upper hip, from behind? There's tactical fouling, and then there's that. Really not something that follows player code, am I right?
Marsch's response to the whole thing? Eerily similar to his defense of Felipe. He told the Associated Press that it was a "tactical foul" and "it was harder than I would have liked." But then, of course: "[Beckham] was kind of dumb with me, though."
Certainly, Beckham clearly overreacted to being karate-kicked in the stomach. We should all be as understanding.
Look, it is certainly not inconceivable to think that Jones misunderstood something Felipe said. When the incident really flared up, it looked like both players were turned away from each other anyway. Felipe might have muttered something far less incendiary under his breath, or perhaps there were dialectic differences in what Felipe meant and what Jones heard.
The point here is that the players should handle it, sort it out, and move on. They seem ready to do that. Felipe said they talked about it, Jones isn't offering new information (and no one seems to be clamoring for it), so everybody is probably ready to let it go. Jesse Marsch should just stay out of it and let that happen.