The People’s Champion is back.
Gang Green welcomed back tailback Danny Woodhead Tuesday afternoon, signing the preseason standout to their practice squad after releasing him just two days ago.
The roller coaster ride finally comes to an end for the Chadron State product, who originally signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent in May of 2008. The club’s leading rusher in the 2009 preseason, Woodhead tallied 226 yards, including his phenominal 18-carry, 158-yard performance against the Philadelphia Eagles. The signature performance of the Jets’ preseason was not without a pair of touchdown runs from the shifty back, all but sealing his place in the hearts of the club’s faithful.
This move is nothing but a blip on the NFL transaction blotter, and it will more than likely have nothing to do with the outcome of the Jets’ season. But Danny Woodhead is more than just a practice squad player; he personifies all the things we love about the sports we commit ourselves so passionately to.
He is, by definition, the Every Man. He didn’t go to a college known as a football powerhouse – could you tell me what state Chadron State is in without using Google? – and his size, (5’9″, 195) hardly sound like numbers that will strike fear into the hearts of opposing defenses. He missed his entire rookie season in 2008 with an injury. The deck has been stacked against him since he picked up a football, and as we’ve seen throughout this preseason, the guy just doesn’t seem to mind.
There’s a reason why people constantly ask me, “What’s going on with Woodhead? Think he’ll make the roster?” before they ask any other question. We pull for him, because he’s just like us. We haven’t been blessed with blinding speed, amazing size and obscene athletic talents; if we were, we’d be professional athletes. Our sports stars can sometimes seem larger than life, and there’s no way we could possibly relate to what it’s like to be that gifted. But players like Woodhead remind us of the great things sports can show you.
They can show you what is possible through perseverance and determination, no matter the odds against you. They can show you show you how belief in yourself is more important than what others perceive. In an age where we are bombarded with one sports scandal after another, stories like this remind us of everything that is good about the games we watch. Are these moments few and far between? Of course. But maybe it’s supposed to be that way. If they weren’t, we’d take players like Danny Woodhead for granted.
So he might be just a “practice squad player” in the eyes of the NFL, but those who have cheered for him know he’s more than that. He’s a tribute to all the great things that are possible in sports, no matter how small.
OTHER ROSTER MOVES
The punter carousel finally came to a stop this afternoon, with the welcoming of Steve Weatherford. He beat out punter A.J. Trapasso in a workout yesterday morning, finally putting to rest the game of musical chairs that’s marked the position since the beginning of camp.
“I’m just happy to be here,” the newest Jet said. “I’m not even sure how I got here, but I’m happy to be here. I think it’s going to be a really good fit for everybody. I get along really well with (special teams coach Mike Westhoff) we have similar punting strengths. My strengths are what he likes so I think it will work out real well. I’m happy to be here, I think this is a great franchise from top to bottom. I’m real excited to get into the season.”
“It is important,” head coach Rex Ryan said of solidifying the position. “We might not need a home run every time from a guy, but we need some singles. That’s what we’re looking for. We just need a consistent pro. Knock it out there and we’ll go cover it. I think we have outstanding coverage teams. We’ll play defense.”
“He’s wearing number nine right now, but we’ll probably change that jersey number since we had about eight punters try to wear that,” Ryan said to laughter from the press. “But that’s where we’re at. We just need a punter that is going to be consistent. I thought Reggie (Hodges) had a chance to be, I thought, an outstanding punter. We wanted a little more consistency. I’m not saying Reggie can’t be an NFL punter, he can. It’s just that we need a guy that’s going to be more consistent, and that’s why we made the move that we did.”
To make room for Woodhead, the club released fullback Jehuu Caulcrick from the practice squad. The Jets also made another minor move, releasing fullback Jason Davis and signing linebacker Ryan Fowler.
Fowler, a former Duke Blue Devil, was released by the Tennessee Titans on September 6. In 62 career games he has recorded 21 starts, with 119 total tackles and one fumble recovery.
JET BLUE, MEET JET GREEN
The Jets and Jet Blue Airlines announced a three-year partnernship today that will make them the official airline of the team, including all of the 2009 season’s activities. To kick off the pact, Jet Blue is offering $50.00 fares from New York to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in honor of the 50’th season of existence for Gang Green.
“As New York’s hometown airline, the Jets are core to what it means to be a sports fan in the city,” said Dave Barger, President and CEO of JetBlue Airways. “We’re the largest domestic airline at New York’s JFK International Airport and are thrilled to partner with a major sports franchise right in our own backyard. We look forward to welcoming Jets fans on future JetBlue flights where they’ll never have to miss a game with 36 channels of live television, the most legroom in coach, and unlimited snacks and drinks.”
Why is this relevant? Aside from the nice deals on airfare, this “important announcement” sent Jets fans into a frenzy over the long weekend.
Yesterday, safety Kerry Rhodes sent Twitter Nation into a craze with this tweet:
“everyone the news will b mad 2morrow and if you really are a JET fan you will appreciate the news!”
Could it be a contract extension for Leon Washington? A trade for Brandon Marshall? Sadly, it was merely the Jet Blue partnership. Well played, Mr. Rhodes. You got us.
The team takes the field tomorrow for practice beginning at 11:50 AM. Be sure to check back to JetsInsider for all your news and updates.