Posts Tagged ‘Training Camp’

Lunch With Woody

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a private lunch with Jets owner Woody Johnson at Wayne Chrebet’s restaurant on Saturday before the Green and White Practice at Hofstra Stadium. The lunch was attended by 10 or so select media members who cover the team. It was the first time I’ve been involved in an open on-the-record forum with the owner and from what I’ve been told, this is something that the he rarely does.


The purpose of the lunch was specific. The team is on the verge of leaving Hofstra permanently for their new facility in Florham Park, NJ and Woody wants to get the word out to the fans that the Jets will not fully abandon their NY/LI fanbase by having the annual Green and White Scrimmage every summer at Hofstra. For those who have supported the team during their many years here, this small bone is of little solace. Granted, it’s great news that the team is getting a new state-of-the-art facility but it would have been nice if it was built in NY to keep some ties to the state.


One reporter asked RWJ III if he thinks the team should change their name to the NJ Jets, since they technically will have no ties to NY anymore. Woody replied that the team has a huge fanbase in both NY and NJ and would always be the NY Jets despite their new residence.


Let me say first off, that RWJ III is a nice guy. The few interactions and brief conversations I’ve had with him over the years have been very cordial and despite his wealth he doesn’t come off as aloof or pretentious. I believe he’s a true Jets fan and bought the team with genuine intentions of getting it back to NY and establishing it’s own identity.


That being said, the problem I have is that he gave up too quickly after the West Side Stadium failed and was bullied by the Giants and the state of NJ to accept an inferior deal that’s sole purpose is to fleece the fan.


Although he didn’t specify the dollar amounts, for the first time, Johnson acknowledged (to no one’s surprise) that PSL’s are coming and at this point, it’s believed that they they will be set up in the same stucture as the Giants, who announced their pricing a few weeks back.


The owner mentioned that the fans may not “really understand PSL’s” and perhaps the team hasn’t done a good enough job “explaining their value”. Unless the Jets have come up with  a different, new kind of personal seat license that has never been seen before, I have issue with the owner trying to pawn a PSL as a commodity when everyone knows it’s not.


The only thing he did offer that could be considered somewhat of a value is that the PSL would give the owner the right to buy their seats for other events at the stadium (concerts, tractor pulls, etc.). However, how is this possible if your seat is PSL’ed by a Giants fan as well? Unless every event is done in pairs, someone is getting screwed. How do they choose which PSL owner gets which event? He couldn’t explain. Also, if the stadium hosts maybe 3 or 4 concerts per year, that’s a lot. Certainly, not a huge enough perk that would make anyone feel better about paying a fat PSL.


Be honest Woody, the only value of the PSL is to you since the proceeds will enable you to pay down a large percentage of the debt you’ve incurred to build the stadium almost instantly.


Another problem is that past owners who have charged  PSL’s say it’s a way to keep ticket prices down. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case here as the Giants plan gets them paid on both sides. Not only do you have to pay the PSL, but ticket prices are going up too (some quite significantly). Again, the Jets won’t announce their structure until the end of the month, but it’s believed that it will be in line with their co-tenant, Big Blue .


During the Q&A I brought up a real scenario to Mr. Johnson:


I have a good friend of average means who has four seats in Section 112 that his family has owned since the early days of Shea. He’s a DIE HARD JETS FAN and bought these seats every year for 40+ years…through good times and bad. Based on the PSL numbers the Giants have announced, he’s looking at $80,000 in PSL’s just to keep the right to buy his seats. Then,  on top of the PSL, his individual ticket price goes from $120 per game to $700.!! That means, his yearly ticket invoice goes from $4800. to a whopping $28,000!!!


Needless to say, my friend will be forced to give up his seats just based on the PSL alone. The worst part is that the main reason my friend has kept the seats for so long is to experience gameday with his kids who are just becoming old enough to appreciate it.


When I asked Woody what he would say a fan like my friend, he looked a little flustered and just said “That’s unfortunate…we’re not going to be able to make everyone happy and that’s something I’m disappointed about”.  Not nearly disappointed as my friend though, Woody.


The owner mentioned that “Finally the Jets will have their own home, something they have never had”. First off, I’m not sure if I agree with the statement since the team basically is doing the same thing they have for the last 30 years. Sure, the stadium will no longer be called Giants Stadium and it will have neutral colored seats and green accent  lighting…however, technically they could sell the naming rights of the current stadium, change the seat colors and it would be the same thing for around $1.5 billion less.   


Although Woody didn’t give any details regarding the surveys they sent to the Fans recently, he states “We understand the feelings of the fans and will try to incorporate many of those ideas into the way we package PSL’s” I would bet my bottom dollar the majority of the fans would choose to keep the current stadium rather than cough up a PSL and a spike in their ticket prices.


Johnson announced that the official move date from Hempstead to Florham Park will be  on September 2nd, five days before the Jets’ opening game in Miami. Most of the Jets staff is making the move with the team and some already have moved residences to NJ.      


It’s obvious that RWJ III believes his legacy will be as the owner who finally got the Jets their own home but for me (and thousands of other Jets fans), he’ll always be the man who facilitated the complete abandonment of my Jets from New York. Although I’ll always be a Jets fan, I’ll never be nearly as passionate due to this.




Week One Observations

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Now that we have a week of Jets training camp in the books here are a few observations:

Week One Battle at QB Winner? Chad Pennington.

Although he hasn’t been flashy, Chad has played mistake-free football and his arm has shown some life. He attributes the improvement to changes in his footwork and delivery and it seems to have helped. Kellen Clemens’ 6 INT’s in 10 practices has actually put him behind third stringer Brett Ratliff. These developments have Clementines (my name for Clemens loyalists) reeling but remember folks, training camp is a marathon, not a sprint. Lots of time for Clemens to emerge.

QBs Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens

QB's Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens

Which brings me to my next topic. Why all the hate for Pennington? It amazes me the venom on the JI messageboards towards Chad. Some fans seem to put him in the same category as the Anti-Christ. Granted, Pennington had an off year in 2007 (with a horrible surrounding cast) and has had several setbacks due to injury over his career but the guy is a warrior, works harder than any other player and like it or not, right now he’s the best QB on the roster. Lighten up, folks (especailly you Clementines)….if Pennington ends up the starter, support andembrace. I have faiththat with the improvements the team made, Pennington will surprise a lot of people.

Mangini is not concerned about his job. After reports surfaced today that Jets head coach just purchaed a $4MM house in NJ worthy of an episode of MTV cribs, it’s obvious that Eric Mangini feels he’ll be around for a while. On the other hand, rumors are that Bob Sutton is renting.

Mike Tannenbaum should not do interviews. Look, I understand that the team is trying to be  “media friendly” by having Tannenbaum available to reporters, but conducting a 15 minute Q&A with the answer to every question ”It’s an internal matter that we can’t comment on” is a waste of everyone’s time. It would be more respectful to everyone to just issue a “no comment” and stay in your office, Mike.  

One thing I did enjoy though, is WFAN loudmouth Mike Francesa not getting even a tidbit out of Tanny on his show last week after he touted all day that Tannenbaum would come on the air and set the Brett Favre rumors straight for his audience.

TE Chris Baker: He’s been on PUP for a week for this alleged back strain and according to Mangini today, no definative return time is in sight.

The way I see it is either Baker’s back injury is a lot worse than he’s led everyone to believe or the team may be putting him on ice while they see how the team’s new TE’s emerge. With rookie Dustin Keller and veteran Bubba Franks having a great first week, Baker could be more expendable than first thought.

Bubba Franks

Bubba Franks

WR to watch: David Clowney. The 2nd year former 5th round pick of the Packers is making noise his first week, showing deep speed and good hands. A person who should be alarmed is Brad Smith, who could be the odd man out with the emergence of Clowney.

I had to laugh at the blog bitch slapping that former Patriots team writer Tom Casale gave Bill Bellichick and Co on his way to a new job.

You can’t make this stuff up! Obviously you can’t question Bellichick’s success as a coach, but maybe this will open his eyes and he’ll finally realize there’s repercussions for acting like an arrogant, miserable human being to everyone on a daily basis.  The part about an alleged Bellichick sex tape is a bit creepy (can you imagine that hitting the internet? Let me puke now.) but the tidbit on Tedy Bruschi was priceless. Karma’s a bitch, Bill.   

And finally…Brett Favre is not coming to NY. Not that there was ever really a shot, but every day that passes makes it less likely. Being the 3 time All-Pro hasn’t even given the Jets the courtesy of any dialouge shows he’s not interested in being here. The conclusion to this quandary should be interesting but the road won’t end in Hempstead.

And They’re Off! First practice impressions

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

The Jets kicked the 2008 season with their first training camp practice this morning. A early shower turned into a breezy cool session which was refreshing, considering the stifling heat lately. I won’t go into specific practice reports (I’ll leave that up to the writers…..full AM report coming) but here’s a few observations.

First off, as I’m sitting here in Magini’s press conference, his first news of the day is that Vernon Gholston is “Close” and he expects him signed in the “near future”. Although he didn’t say it would happen today, I imagine it will happen within the next 24 hours and there is a chance he could be on the field later today. Sources tell us they have agreed to a deal and are just cleaning up the details.

Here are some practice notes:

Mangini was serious when he said he was going to be kinder and gentler this camp as the first session was under 2 hours. The last two seasons before, practices regularly went 2 1/2 hours or more.

Give Chad Pennington practice one over Kellen Clemens. Both QB’s took reps with the starters and Pennington looked overall much sharper than Clemens. Clemens first pass was intercepted by Eric Barton and although he did have some nice throws there were several wobbly and overthrown balls.

Rookie QB Eric Ainge, who is still recovering from surgery on his throwing hand looked like it was still  bothering him as he threw a few wounded ducks trying to go deep.

FA NT Kris Jenkins looks like he’s be curtailing his visits to White Castle. He visibly looked fit and slimmer than he did at minicamp. When speaking to C Nick Mangold, who is on the other side of the line against him in practice, he described him as a “massive physical specimen who is almost impossible to get around”.

On the other side of the line, T D’Brickashaw Ferguson doesn’t look like he’s bulked up much this off-season and during reporters questioning after practice, you could see that it’s a sore subject for him that he’s tired of talking about.

I had a chance to speak with new Jet Alan Faneca and besides being very cordial and looking in incredible shape, he seemed very comfortable with his new environment. Obviously, $40MM in the bank could make anyone comfortable but he mentioned the synergy between him and his new teammates has been great. He, Mangold and Brick all said that they have been leaning heavily on each other. Faneca for guidance in the new offense and the youngsters on Faneca for veteran technique help that they lost when Pete Kendall left last season.  

Chris Baker spoke to the media after practice. He’s still on PUP and rode the bike on the sidelines during the session. During his Q&A he seemed to be in a much better place, not bashing the team and saying he’s confident a resolution of his dispute will be soon.  No word on when he’ll be acitve (he’s still nursing a back injury) but it should be sooner than later.

The CFL was in the house! Something I’ve never noticed in covering camp for the last several years is that there were two reps from the CFL scouting Jets players. One was a scout from the Edmonton Eskimos and the other was the General Manager from the Montreal Alouettes. I was informed that a large number of CFL players are taken from the pool of undrafted free agents who don’t make NFL rosters so a lot of these scouts make their rounds to NFL camps this time of year looking for talent. Can you say Danny Woodhead?

Hot off the presses, here’s your first look at the 2008 Jets at the inaugural camp practice:


Late practice at 5:30. Weather is supposed to improve. Come on down!

More later. Be sure to take advantage of all the JI resources including breaking news, detailed camp reports daily and the largest NY Jets camp photo galleries anywhere on the internet.