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Long Day in the Books
Jul 30, 2003
It has been a long couple of days for the New York Jets. The defending AFC East Champions left a New York airport at 1:00 PM eastern Tuesday and did not reach their Tokyo hotel until about 6:30 local time Wednesday. Then the coaches and players got a bite to eat before turning in.
Most players were already tucked away in their room, as the minutes grew closer to midnight here in Japan (11:00 AM Eastern). In just a few hours, the Jets will hold a 10:15 morning practice at the Tokyo Dome, an enormous structure placed in the heart of downtown Tokyo.
Here is a quick rundown of what transpired Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Jets attempted to get into the air by 12:30, but actually left the ground at 1:00 PM. This ride was scheduled for 12 hours and 55 minutes, and was actually extended due to heavy traffic at Narita Airport. Upon arrival (2:08 PM here and 3:08 AM Eastern), the Jets had to check in through customs, pick up their baggage, and board buses.
“The plane ride was fine,” Coach Herman Edwards said. “I had some fun with the rookies back there. I woke them up when they were trying to sleep. We had a lot of fun. Woody actually came back to see if I was on the plane. It took him an about an hour to find me.”
Throughout the never-ending day, the Jets did not see darkness. It is dark now, but the sun rises in the east and is expected to be rising Thursday at 4:30 AM.
At 4:30 PM Wednesday in Japan, the Jets ran on to the Chiba practice field after a 30-minute drive from the airport and a 20-minute wait for their equipment delivery. In a very brief workout, the Jets sported American Bowl tee-shirts and shorts while reviewing special teams, and getting their legs during a number of running drills led by New York strength and conditioning coach John Lott. A number of coaches, including Herman Edwards, ran with the players at the loosening session on the greenest natural surface in the free world. Edwards had fun with the players and even challenged Santana Moss to a few races.
“I told them that days, with inconveniences, like this happen,” Edwards said after practice. “Lights may get cut out at the Stadium Saturday night.”
Unfortunately one integral member of the Jets’ staff will miss the American Bowl. Mike Westhoff, the Jets’ special teams leader, was informed of his father’s passing early this week. Westhoff did not make the trip to Tokyo and has returned to Pittsburgh to be with his family.
“We just wanted to make sure we had the teams’ together,” Edwards said. “The last thing Mike told me before he left was, ‘In two years, we have never had more than 11 men on the field.’ So, he put the pressure on me right away. I promised him we won’t have any more than 11.”
Edwards, linebackers coach Bob Sutton, and defensive assistant David Merritt will fill in this weekend for Westhoff.
The former Bucs’ defensive back coach says the Jets plan on reviewing the rest of the week.
“The whole mindset before we got there was to get everything done, so we could just repeat the things we’ve already done when we got here,” Edwards said. “We will determine playing times on Friday.”
Will Hunter (leg), Chester McGlockton (conditioning), Matt O’Neal (ankle), and Dennis O’Sullivan (bicep) did not make the trip. But the Jets are happy to be in Japan and will practice at 10:15 here Thursday morning.
“It is quite an honor for us to come represent the National Football League,” Edwards said before he left the practice field.