CORTLAND, N.Y. — Come Hell or high water, the Jets 2012 season is off and running. Not thunder, not rain and not even an incumbent tornado could stop the Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and — yes, even Darrelle Revis, albeit fashionably late — from getting to the team’s training camp grounds of the SUNY Cortland campus.
The Cortland campus, a community littered with red but surrounded by green, has been a happy home for the Gang Green, who went to two straight AFC Championship games since moving their training camp from Hofstra University in 2009. And last season’s 8-8 debacle where the Jets missed the playoffs? The team practiced at their season facility in Florham Park, N.J.
Players and coaches alike both acknowledge the “magic” the Cortland campus held in seasons past and are excited for the bond that’s created because of it.
“The drive in was exciting,” guard Brandon Moore said Thursday as the team arrived for player check-in, “just the anticipation of overcoming the past.”
Of course much has been made for the in-house feuding and late-season dramatics that seemed more reminiscent of the cast of the “Jersey Shore” than the team that calls Jersey home. Fellow linemate D’Brickashaw Ferguson agreed that their time in Cortland will be a great aid in putting the 2011 season further behind them.
“Time cures all, the more we practice the better off we’ll be. This will be a time for better focus on team goals and just center everything around football,” Ferguson said.
Shortly after the team’s 2:30 p.m. EST check-in time, Sanchez arrived with receivers Scotty McKnight and Patrick Turner — yoga mat in hand and big screen TV getting hauled in behind him. Despite lacking the “roughing it” mentality, the fourth-year starter is mentally and physically prepared for what lies ahead.
“I think setting the right example is the most important thing. We’ve got our work cut out for ourselves, but it’s my job to lead these guys,” Sanchez said, who gained 12 pounds of muscle this past off-season, upping his playing weight from 218 to 230 pounds.
His quarterback counterpart, Tim Tebow, showed up not long after Sanchez’s arrival with Australian rugby star turned tight end Hayden Smith — who is also his roommate. In his first training camp with the Jets, Tebow is not willing to believe the hype that surrounds him or his new team.
“I think they’re a lot of great players on this team, but I think for a team to be great we have to come together, play for one cause and play for each other. I don’t think there’s any team that’s done that yet. It all starts tomorrow in practice. Hopefully we’ll get there,” Tebow said in reference to Ferguson’s statement of seeing ‘greatness’ on this team.
As the rest of the players came in off the bus or arrived on their own, all eyes were fixated on the team’s most shining star, All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. Revis has not spent much time in Cortland having held out in 2010 due to a highly publicized contract dispute and the team skipping out on the trip due to the lockout last year. In fact, Revis has only spent two of his five seasons in training camp. (He held out for his rookie contract as well).
Much was made whether Revis would hold out again, as he hinted toward the possibility during mini-camp back in June. He kept the mystery going as we all were forced to wait until the 5 pm EST deadline for players to report until hopping out of his Mini Cooper. When made available to the media, his contract — and not the upcoming season — dominated the conversation.
He told reporters he didn’t tell anyone he was arriving and that he made his decision “a couple days ago”, but reiterated his statement from mini-camp that he wants to be a Jet for life, “but if management doesn’t see it we’ll part ways”. He also stated that general manager Mike Tannenbaum told him they would “deal with it later” but also said that he doesn’t think any player “would turn down meeting with their GM at anytime”.
Certainly last season rocked the boat in a sea of drama, but as the storm rolled into Cortland — lightning and tornadoes and all — it can only be an omen, good or bad, for what lies ahead for the Jets 2012 season.
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