That's awesome man thanks for sharing.....And we absolutely should have taken Stedman Bailey in the 3rd round.....Not only is he a great WR, but he was also Geno's teammate in high school and at WVU. I'm sure he was bummed when we passed on Bailey but oh well
Did you get to talk to Lattimore at all? Just curious what he was like/had to say....
No, just kinda saw him on the buffet line. It was like a, "hey, what's up?" but didn't really chat.
I'm not a deep draft guy or a draftnik so I honestly didn't really recognize Stedman at first when Geno was talking about him and then it clicked and I remembered that WVa had two receivers go pretty high up. He was a really cool kid....and I say kid because that's the other thing I took away from this event. I'm in my 30's and you kinda forget that these guys are like 21, 22, 23 years old. Think about what we were doing in our early 20's...goofing around, hanging out with friends, starting our first jobs. These guys are the same way and you kind of forget that sometimes.
(Sorry it's a long read but I hope it's cool and informative)
I was fortunate enough to get invited to the NFL Rookie Premiere party the other night in LA. As some of you may remember, I have a relative who works for the NFL Players Association. Rookie Premiere is essentially a kickoff for new NFL players and their involvement with the NFLPA, licensees, sponsors, etc. It lasts about 4 days, the players will receive and put on their official jerseys for the first time and have pictures taken at USC for sponsors such as Topps for trading cards. I'd say about 50 players from throughout the draft (rounds 1 through 7) attend....it's kind of a mixed bag. The last time I went to this event was back in 2006, right after Mangini started coaching and I got to speak with Leon Washington and Kellen Clemens (no comments on me cursing our 2nd round QBs please ).
In any case, this was a relatively small cocktail party and dinner event outside on the pool deck at a Hollywood hotel. There were about 100 people and half of them were rookies with the rest being NFLPA and NFLPI staff, some sponsors, and a few other guests. There were icebreaker games likes Q&A with players, trivia, etc. Guys I got to see or meet included Dion Jordan, Marcus Lattimore, Eddie Lacy, Tavon Austin, and Manti Te'o....but Geno Smith was who I came to see.
I saw Geno hanging out at a table chatting with someone from the PA so I went over and introduced myself, telling him that I'm not with the PA but just a very big Jets fan. The first thing he said was, "Cool...wait, do you have season tickets?" I said yeah and he's like, "Whoa, I heard those things go for $125K!" I laughed and told him..."well, not mine!" I explained a little about the PSLs and told him the stadium is still accessible for lots of us regular fans at decent price points. It was kinda funny that was the first thing he said to me after learning I was a Jets fan. We quickly moved on to football and chatted for about 20 minutes over some beverages. So here's the cool stuff...
- I asked Geno how mini-camp went. His eyes got big and he said (paraphrasing), "it was awesome....fast, lots going on. You can just see how professional it is and how organized things are on this level. It was great and man, do we have a great group of rookies. Like that's a big difference with college, everybody on that field is a player...really talented."
- I asked him what he thought of the QB competition and the view by some people that it's a crowded situation (the Garrard news was just hitting the wire that evening so we didn't know about it yet). He said he really doesn't care who and how many QBs are on the team, he's just ready to play. "I'm a player...I want to play...every time they tap my helmet and hand me the ball I'm ready!"
- He's just now transitioning to NJ and finding a place in the Morristown / Roseland area. Said it's about 20 minutes from the facility, nice and quiet. He's from Miami originally and I said we friggen hate the Fish. He laughed and said, "yeah, honestly, they don't even have a lot of Dolphin fans down there." We talked about New Yorkers who retire to Florida and he brought up the Tampa game right after Keyshawn was traded. I was kinda taken aback that he remembered this but he called it "the Wayne Chrebet game" and said it was awesome and he remembered it vividly. At this point I asked him how much he followed the history of Jets football and if he knew how hungry our fanbase is for success...
- Geno said he's really excited to play in NY and "it will be a great place to win." He said he is working with both Vinny Testaverde and Chad Pennington right now. (I didn't know this)
- We started talking about how the draft went. I said to Geno that lots of Jets fans thought we were going to take Tavon Austin at 9 and that, looking at how things worked out, we would have had a dynamite West Virginia connection with him and Austin. At this point Geno points over at Stedman Bailey (WR West Virginia, taken at 92 by the Rams) who is standing nearby talking with some other people and Geno says, "yeah, we should have tried to get Stedman too. He's a real good one and the Rams got both of them." (I didn't realize the Rams drafted both of his West Virginia teammates.)
We wrapped up the conversation and went to get some food. I wished him good luck and told him he has Jets fans in his corner, we're ready to win.
If there's one thing I took away from my conversation it's that from the very first minute we shook hands until we ended our conversation, Geno is a really, really nice guy. He's personable, engaging, didn't "check his text messages" and seemed genuinely interested to be talking to a Jets fan. Now, this might simply be because his whole weekend will be spent with sponsors and staffers from the union but he just came across as a really good dude. So, in my humble opinion, all that stuff about him being aloof prior to the draft seems like a bunch of BS...but again, this was just one 20 minute conversation. It will be VERY easy for me to root for this guy if/when the Jets call his number.