BY RICH CIMINI
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Sunday, June 24th 2007, 4:00 AM
Ten days ago, Jets guard Pete Kendall went public with his unhappiness over his contract situation, demanding to be released or traded. His feelings haven't subsided. If anything, he's madder than ever.
Beyond the money issues, Kendall is steamed by what he perceives as a "good cop, bad cop" smear campaign being waged by the Jets, and he vented those opinions yesterday in a phone interview with the Daily News.
He also addressed speculation that, as the Jets' union rep, he blew the whistle on coach Eric Mangini for running minicamp practices last weekend that may have violated league rules on offseason contact. The NFL Players' Association reportedly is looking into whether the Jets broke any rules.
Kendall said he hasn't been contacted by the NFLPA, but when asked if he notified the union of alleged violations, he replied, "I'm not going to confirm or deny any of that. I guess in the court of public opinion I've been tried, but I'm not going to offer a defense or accept guilt."
Asked if he believes that Mangini's practices included too much contact, Kendall simply said, "I'm not going to comment" - a response that spoke volumes.
Kendall, seeking a $1 million raise on his $1.7 million salary for 2007, is irked more by the way the organization has handled his contract request. He accused the club of trying to discredit him by leaking false information.
After a positive March meeting with Mangini in which the coach encouraged candid, two-way dialogue, Kendall was dismayed to read a report a few weeks later that said the Jets wanted to dump him because he's a locker-room lawyer.
"When Eric says one thing, and somebody else seemingly in the organization leaks negative stuff about me, it leaves me scratching my head," Kendall said. "It's like good cop, bad cop.
"I know I've taken my lumps - that happens when an athlete goes public with a contract dispute - but when the organization starts lying - or maybe 'misspeaking' is the term I should use - it leaves a bad taste."
Kendall said the last straw came the day after his minicamp diatribe, when he read several reports that said he was offered a one-year contract in 2006, the inference being it was his choice to take the security of a four-year deal. He called that a "complete falsehood," insisting it was leaked by the organization. Sources later confirmed that, technically, he never was offered a one-year contract.
"It's upsetting to me because it gets spun that I've been disloyal to them," said Kendall, who skipped the voluntary workouts but reported to the mandatory minicamp. "To put those things out there - the clubhouse lawyer and the one-year offer - and to lie and retract it the next day . . . it shows me how na´ve and foolish I was to help them out."
Kendall played with a bad back in 2005 and reworked his contract to create salary-cap room and now he wants a raise. But he's in the second year of a four-year deal, and the Jets don't appear willing to spend anymore.
Mangini and GM Mike Tannenbaum, refusing to be drawn into a war of words, have declined to criticize Kendall publicly for his sharp words and actions. The club also declined to comment on the alleged practice violations, which could result in a fine or, in an extreme case, the loss of a draft pick.
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