NY Jets = NY Mess
By Mark Cannizzaro
Jets Head Writer
October 7th, 2005
P.U.! DE Shaun Ellis knows that something stinks in Jetland. (Jets Photo)
P.U.! DE Shaun Ellis knows that something stinks in Jetland. (Jets Photo)
The Jets are a mess on the field at the moment.

This, of course, is hardly breaking news when you consider that they're taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Giants Stadium in their fifth game of 2005 while playing their fourth quarterback of the season.

A week removed from the failed Brooks Bollinger experiment in Baltimore, 41-year-old Vinny Testaverde is back for a return engagement, starting against the No. 1-ranked Tampa Bay defense, which also happens to rank No. 1 against the run, something the Jets can't do either.

So, yes it's a mess.

But does it have to be that way for them off the field, too?

Apparently so.

Given numerous incidents, lowlighted by upper management's heartless and unthinkable initial decision to turn down an NFL request to help sell Giants-Saints tickets for what was essentially a Hurricane Katrina victims benefit game, have painted this organization in a rather embarrassing light.

There are countless Jets' fans already enraged at what they believe has been a complete and deceptive sell-out on the part of team owner Woody Johnson by agreeing to the deal to move the team to New Jersey and partner with the Giants on a new stadium.

This after Johnson had championed his entire cause when he purchased the team about moving out of Giants Stadium and building the franchise a stadium of its own.

The Jets, as we all know, have been nomads since they left Shea Stadium. Every home game at Giants Stadium has been nothing more than a mini-road game for the Jets for more than three decades.

Johnson knew this and was guns blazing about moving the team back to New York.

He hired Jay Cross, a supposed new stadium specialist, to make it happen on the West Side of Manhattan. Cross, with the help of his marketing minions, spent some $65 million of the Johnson's money, according to numerous reports, and got nothing on the West Side but rejection.

Then, when there was a chance to save some face and perhaps be a part of a Queens revival, the Jets raced back into the arms of the Giants, because that's obviously where the most money to be made was. And, after all, the Jets already have some $65 million to make up. The feeling in Queens is that it was being used only as a bargaining chip for the Jets to forge a better deal for themselves in New Jersey.

Speaking of Cross, how is it possible that he still has a job? In what other business in our universe can you be hired specifically to do one thing, fail to get it done and lose $65 million along the way, and still collect a paycheck every week?

Cross was reportedly due an astronomical bonus if he made the Manhattan project happen. When it didn't happen, why wasn't he docked that bonus money from his paycheck and/or expense account? That's like betting a buddy $100 that you'll make a 10-foot putt. If you make it he pays you the $100. If you don't make it, you don't owe him anything.

Where do I sign up for that gig?

Cross, of course, was at least somewhere near the gutless decision by the team not to help sell those Giants-Saints tickets, which simply furthered proof of the Jets complete inferiority complex and jealousy when it comes to the Giants.

More good business.

It took the New York Post catching the organization with its pants down around its ankles to force Cross and the organization to hurriedly, in the 11th hour the day before their Sunday game that week, allow an advertisement on the end zone scoreboard to advertise tickets to "tomorrow night's Saints game'' without a single mention of the Giants in the ad.

A number of people in the Jets organization were embarrassed by the pettiness and lack of compassion the club showed in its mishandling of that situation, prompting one member of the organization to say to the reporter who wrote the story with a disappointed shake of the head, "You really got us good'' on that story.

Some dealings like this by the seemingly-slick Cross have earned him the nickname among some highly-placed league officials as Jay "Double'' Cross.

And speaking of being double-crossed ... shame on the Jets for their complete and utter mismanagement of the Chad Pennington injury situation.

When is this organization going to stop embarrassing itself with the nonsensical way in which they go about things?

The Jets' cloak-and-dagger approach to Pennington's shoulder injury _ dating back to last year's initial shoulder injury he suffered _ has been deplorable.

By lying and withholding information, which has been the approach since this thing started, the Jets only create the perception that they're hiding things. And, by operating that way, they've gone further in making themselves a laughingstock among the other teams around the league.

Friday's developments provided a continuation of the complete and unprofessional madness that has surrounded this calamity.

One day after at least two reporters who cover the team regularly were told by the team's public relations department that there was nothing new going on with Pennington and his injured right shoulder, the Jets issued a release on Friday saying that Pennington had arthroscopic surgery on the shoulder the previous day, Thursday.

This merely added to the litany of lies that have ensued from the team since Pennington first hurt the shoulder last year.

It, too, made the reporters who wrote in Friday editions of their respective newspapers that Pennington was scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Alabama next week to evaluate his progress and decide whether he should have surgery look like they had no idea what they were talking about.

This despite the fact that those reporters were told by the Vice President of public relations that there was nothing new and that Pennington was scheduled to go to Alabama early next week.

We know that the public relations official is paid by the Jets and that's where his loyalty should lie. That's understood. But when a reporter comes into his office and asks a specific question, that official should have the wherewithal to send the reporter in a proper direction so that he wouldn't embarrass himself by putting erroneous information in the newspaper. That could have been done without the team official undermining his superiors.

That's the way it's done in other places around the league and there's no reason why it can't be done with this organization.

It's to the point now with the Jets that there've been so many lies and so much deceit dealt out that no one has any idea what to believe whenever they say anything.

This is particularly upsetting because Herman Edwards' mantra is about truth. He's always so adamant about the fact that he never lies and that when you tell the truth you have nothing to hide.

Now, we give the Jets a pass on not revealing that Pennington had a tear in his right rotator cuff last season, because their doctors deemed it all right for him to rest it and try playing again without doing more damage to it. Withholding that information was for competitive reasons.

Why let an opposing team know exactly how injured a player is and leave open the possibility that the opposing team could exploit that?

Everything that has happened with this year's version of the injury, however, is different. There has been no practical reason from the outset to withhold any information about Pennington's situation because he's out for the year. There is no competitive advantage or disadvantage here.

So why, we ask, could the Jets not have announced on Thursday that he was having a 'scope done on the shoulder _ particularly when reporters were asking about his situation?

There is no good reason.

Why have we not heard from Pennington, the $64 million face of the franchise, once since he was hurt some two weeks ago?

There is no good reason.

Why can't the Jets figure out, once and for all, how to handle themselves in a professional public relations manner that is based on truth and not lies and deceit?

Again there is no good reason.

Further proof of the organization's apparent disdain for the media comes from an incident with Jets' GM Terry Bradway and a reporter who covers the team regularly.

After repeated calls to Bradway went unanswered one day, the next day Bradway appeared on a local radio show. When the reporter confronted Bradway about the inequity, Bradway ranted on about the fact that he doesn't give a (bleep) about what reporters write.

And, making matters even more preposterous, he went as far as to irresponsibly suggest that he felt there were reporters in the press room that were happy to see what's happened to the franchise, including seeing Pennington hurt.

To say a thing like that about a group of reporters who have a genuine liking for Pennington is nothing but paranoid and wildly misinformed, two things that are very unbecoming of a general manager of a professional sports franchise.

Bradway would serve himself and his organization a lot better to realize that the media is not the enemy. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and the like are the enemies he should worry about.