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New York’s Power Struggle Shifts From The Jets Back To Giants

The New York Jets controlled the big apple during the post season over the last two years. In fact, Jets fans like myself anticipated that the team would finally be the Kings of New York instead of the Giants. After all, since 2008 the Giants hadn’t come close to returning to the Super Bowl, while their former weak sisters nearly went there twice.  The Jets had control for once in New York.

But a whole new season can make a really big difference, considering where New York’s two teams are right now. Not only have the Jets free fallen into the murky abyss, they may have lost their chance to seize control of New York permanently at this rate while the Giants approach another Super Bowl.  Both teams were in control of their destiny this season.  The Giants took control while the Jets let control slide from their hands.

The beginning of the end can be traced back to the Jets-Giants showdown on Christmas Eve, when both teams were battling for the playoff fate.  A win for the Jets would have put them back on track for a postseason berth and another road run towards the AFC championship – while the Giants would have been doomed with a loss and probably cost Tom Tom Coughlin his job.

But the second that the Giants wrapped up a 29-14 victory, the two haven’t stopped going in the opposite direction. The NFC’s New York team won the NFC Championship & a win away from another Super Bowl victory that would give the Giants control of New York.  Meanwhile, the AFC’s New York squad has been revealed as the most dysfunctional in the NFL and is staying home during its utter collapse.

While the Giants prepared to face the San Francisco 49ers for  the NFC championship on Jan. 22, the Jets were dealing with yet another headline on their horrific chemistry in less than two weeks time. This time LaDainian Tomlinson, who already is halfway out the door, told Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” that the Jets had as bad a locker room as he’d ever seen and put the fault on both Rex Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum.  It seems Rex is not the only one who wants to let their voice be heard.

Now, Giants fans proudly wear their NFC Championship merchandise.  One more win and they have their Super Bowl merchandise as well.  Giants fans proudly support their NFC Champs while Jets fans have been waiting too long to be able to wear any form of championship merchandise.  Promises have been made but no delivery date has been set for Jets fans.  Somewhere in Kenya people are wearing Jets AFC Championship merchandise from 2010 and 2011.

Fortunately for them, New York is getting numb to all these ramblings about how bad the Jets were behind the scenes and it has the Giants to focus on. Right now, the Jets are the weak sibling and virtually irrelevant as anything but gossip fodder and a punch line – just like they have been for most of the last few decades. Ryan looked ready to finally turn it all around in the last two years, but now he is imploding right as Tom Coughlin and the Giants have rescued themselves from the brink.  Something the Jets have tried to do but never accomplished.

The Giants had no rally before their first post season game, which was a home game.  Something the Jets have done the past two seasons.  The media hype for the Giants was not as prolific as it has been for the Jets the past few seasons.  The Giants know their mission and what they need to accomplish on the field.  Big Blue didn’t need as much media hype or public events like the Jets have had in order to rally fan support.

The Jets made a nice run at New York supremacy, but it is a Giants town because it actually delivers championships and doesn’t fall to pieces quite like their cross-town rivals do. Right now, the only thing that can turn it around for the other New York team is if they actually land Peyton Manning (Vegas odds have it astronomical), or if the Giants get blown out by the Patriots. Other than that, it seems like the natural order is right back into place in the Big Apple.

New York Jets, Met Life Revel in Last Week’s Accomplishments

With MetLife purchasing the naming rights to New Meadowlands Stadium, the Jets got the first win in “The House That Snoopy Built” on Monday night, a 17-3 preseason win over the Giants.
Deemed the “MetLife Bowl,” the insurance company presented the Jets a trophy with Snoopy in leatherhead gear, holding a football in a Heisman pose.

Ryan grinned awkwardly, trying to look poised as he held a trophy for a preseason win.  It was a rare moment in the life of Rex Ryan. The Jets head coach didn’t know what to say.  Not too often Rex is at a loss for words.  Perhaps he is rehearsing in case he gets to hold the Lombardi trophy.  Then again, holding that trophy may not keep him quiet.

Now the Jets and Giants can take part in a Bowl, exclusive only to them, to battle for New York bragging rights.  The MetLife bowl sounds more suited for college than the NFL.  To some players, this could be the only bowl they get to play in.
This past Friday, players from the New York Giants and New York Jets rushed Manhattan’s Bryant Park in an unprecedented event that brought both teams together to celebrate MetLife Stadium with fans of all ages. The event was hosted by 1050 ESPN’s Mike Golic and numerous New York Jets and New York Giants were in attendance.

The New York Giants were represented by Head Coach Tom Coughlin with Eli Manning, Antrel Rolle, Brandon Jacobs, Chris Smee, Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, David Diehl, Kenny Phillips, Jason-Pierre-Paul, and Will Beatty.
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New York Jets had as their contingent Head Coach Rex Ryan, with Mark Sanchez, Darrelle Revis, LaDainian Tomlinson, Nick Mangold, Shonn Greene, Santonio Holmes, Dustin Keller, Bart Scott, D’Brickshaw Ferguson, Eric Smith, Sione Pouha, and David Harris

The event was held to commemorate the signing of a 25-year deal with the Jets and  Giants to name the East Rutherford, N.J. sports and entertainment complex. Game tickets and MetLife Stadium-branded hats, t-shirts and mini-footballs were distributed to the loyal and passionate fans who attended the event.  They did have green and blue shirts so fans from both sides felt equal.

The MetLife bowl was not just about a trophy, the Giants and Jets also battled for charity in their annual preseason game. The winning team received the MetLife Trophy as well as $40,000 for the charity of their choice, while the other team will be awarded $10,000. The Jets donated their share to The Trust for Public Land and the Giants donated their proceeds to KaBOOM!

“We had a great time bringing the fans and teams together in Bryant Park,” said Beth Hirschhorn, chief marketing officer of MetLife. “This is just one example of the exciting opportunities coming for fans in the months ahead, and we look forward to welcoming them at the new MetLife Stadium.”

At the event, New York and New Jersey fans interacted with active and retired Giants and Jets players and had multiple autograph opportunities. Vinny Testaverde, Wayne Chrebet, & oe Klecko were the veteran contingent for Gang Green.   Otis Anderson, Carl Banks, and Armani Toomer were there for the Giants.

Kids had a chance to participate in a “football handoff” from  Jets RB Shonn Greene or Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw, and had their very own Kids’ Zone where they could get close to players, have autographs signed and interact with the Peanuts gang.  It was a kids dream come true where there were no lines to wait on and all their favorite players around them. 

To those fans in attendance who could only stand by and watch the festivities, the players walked the perimeter and signed autographs for anyone who wanted.  The merchandise MetLife handed out proved to be great for capturing autographs.

Nick Mangold, who is a die hard fan of the fast casual chain Chipotle, was asked to comment on how great the food is.  His response was they already have enough positive attention and he did not need to add to it.

Through the naming rights sponsorship, MetLife plans to significantly expand the unique experiences available to fans, including tickets to big games, the opportunity to play on MetLife Stadium turf, face-to-face meetings with star players, field passes, trips to away games, signed memorabilia and much more.

Even though Monday nights win over the Giants was sloppy, it was a win.  Both teams will meet on December 24th during the regular season.  It will be a different story then.  No preseason bowl.  Just two teams looking to make a run at the playoffs and a true battle for New York supremacy.

If this past Monday night;s game is a precursor of how the teams will look this season, there is still a lot of work to be done.  With the regular season just 11 days away, both teams need to make big strides on both sides of the ball.  Even with MetLife on the new stadium, the Jets and Giants are in no ways insured they will be going to the Super Bowl.

It’s A Typical Football Off Season, Or Is It?

No matter who you talk to, no one really wants to discuss football.  Let’s face it, there is not much to talk about.  With owners and players at a stalemate and leaving it up to the courts, even they have nothing to talk about.  For the first time since 1987, we are all at a standstill.

For once, all football fans are on the same page, waiting.  Waiting to see when this lockout will not just end, but how soon.  The media does not have much to report on.  Many should be reporting on free agent signings, contract negotiations, off season workouts, and so much more.  But there is not even that to discuss.  Sports writers and reporters have to scrounge for ideas and stories like they are going dumpster diving, trying to find any scrap to talk about.

Greg Bishop of the New York Times wrote a great piece concerning the Jets and what they are doing, or not doing.
“Players are not allowed inside the building. The Jets cannot make trades or sign their numerous free agents. Employees on the team’s business side, everyone from secretaries to executive vice presidents, are staring at the possibility of forced work furloughs. And those involved in the organization’s football operations — coaches among them — are working under a 25 percent pay cut.

Like all N.F.L. teams, the Jets are on a novel campaign to carry on as an organization. Some looming decisions, like how to refund tickets if games are canceled this fall, have nothing to do with football on the field. Others relate to more basic and familiar football questions — whom to draft, for instance, late next month. The Jets will not be able to sign their selections, but they still have to make them.

The greatest sense of paralysis probably is being felt by Tannenbaum and his staff. The Jets have 15 expiring contracts, including those of key players like Cromartie and wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards.”

This is a key time for the Jets.  For the second consecutive year, they made it to the AFC Championship and lost.  They have the tools to go to the Super Bowl.  By not being able to negotiate with free agents, talk to players and agents, there will be little time to make up once the lockout ends.  Depending how close it is to opening day.  The Jets will have to run their own hurry up offense just to make sure the pieces are there to make a run in 2011.

Mike Tannenbaum might also have to make changes on handling the draft.  In previous seasons, he has selected high quality players, regardless of their position.  Vernon Gholston was a choice of Eric Mangini, not Tannenbaum.  In this season of the lockout, with needs on the defensive line, at safety, and with three key receivers potentially free agents, he could draft to key positions.  They need a big time pass rusher.  But when it comes to the Jets, they usually surprise many on their choices.

The players, for their part, face their own challenges and quandaries . During the lockout, players are on their own for their workouts.  Cornerback Darrelle Revis put the offer out to host all defensive backs at his home in Arizona to help with training and development. Some may take him up on it while others may not want to spend to make the trip. Many are working out at local colleges and high schools.  Five members of the Jets’ secondary are free agents, and if any are injured, their careers could be hindered without the backing of a team to help with their rehabilitation.

Let me show you where players are not currently training

For first year players, Kyle Wilson, Vladimir Ducasse, John Conner and Joe McKnight of last years draft class, they will suffer more. They will not receive any instruction from their coaches.  They will be missing out on key guidance.   First year rookies all over will not have the tutelage other players have had in the past.  They need to rely on veteran players right now.

Of course, many of these issues could become a memory, as the players have sought, a federal judge in Minnesota grants an injunction barring the owners from continuing to implement the lockout.

Still, fans remain positive on there being a 2011 season.  In a call with Fireman Ed, he knows they have months to go to settle things.  But if the judge makes the decision favoring the owners, then there is a chance this could go on for a while.  Ed knows the Jets have the right tools to build on this past season.  But when coaches and players can not talk, there is not much to build on.  Ed feels some of the smaller market team owners have a bigger say in this and are trying to get more out of it.  For a fan as passionate as Fireman Ed, even he has nothing to talk about regarding football.

Every player across the league is experiencing the same woes as the Jets players.  Many would love the chance to workout at their teams facilities, but have to make makeshift plans to schedule the same type of workouts.

Every team owner, coach, and General manager has to make plans about the upcoming season and put them away in a file.  Only to come back to them later on the chance there is a season to come back to.  Then they have to use their 2 minute drill to get those carefully laid plans into place.  Time is on their side, for now.

So we all wait collectively.  Like a $300 million dollar lottery hoping our numbers are the ones to be called.  Sitting on the edge of our seats for that big announcement of a 2011 season.  But no one will be happier than the team employees who were forced into pay cuts and furloughs.  The players will come next, followed by the team management.  But in the end, the fans will breathe a sigh of relief once they know there is an opening day kickoff.

The Jets Have Their Own LT

The Jets have signed running back LaDainian Tomlinson to a two-year contract, adding an aging star to an offense that ranked No. 1 in rushing last season.

Tomlinson’s agent, Tom Condon, confirmed the deal Sunday night.

LaDainian Tomlinson acknowledged the crowd at Qualcomm Stadium in  November.

The Jets have signed running back LaDainian Tomlinson to a two-year contract, adding an aging star to an offense that ranked No. 1 in rushing last season.

Tomlinson’s agent, Tom Condon, confirmed the deal Sunday night.

“He wanted to go a team that he thought had a chance to compete for the championship,” Condon told the AP. “He wanted to go somewhere where he had a chance to have a significant role, and so with the Jets he also was going to be very familiar with the offensive system.”

The Jets reached the AFC championship game last season, eliminating Tomlinson and the Chargers along the way.

Tomlinson spent Friday with the Jets, capping it with dinner with coach Rex Ryan, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and other team officials.

The 2006 NFL MVP was cut last month by San Diego. He chose New York over Minnesota after visiting the Vikings on Thursday.  Even after leaving Minnesota with a jerey under his arm, he chose the bright lights of Broadway.  More like the swamps of the Meadowlands.

The Jets went after Tomlinson hard even though he turns 31 in June and is coming off his least productive season.

Tomlinson ran for 730 yards and 3.3 per carry. He scored 12 touchdowns.  He’s expected to back up Shonn Greene, who became the starter after leading-rusher Thomas Jones was released last week.  Tomlinson ranks eighth on the NFL’s career rushing list with 12,490 yards.

LT and Jets Close To Signing, But Not Close Enough

LaDainian Tomlinson, the sixth-leading rusher in NFL history, is talking to the New York Jets about the future after nothing came of his talks with the Vikings.

What happens to running backs when they turn 30?  That’s a rhetorical question if there ever was one but do their skills erode to such a degree that they are no longer serviceable?  Was there a game, a quarter, or even a play that stole their magic and turned them from a god of the gridiron into a mere mortal?

LaDainian TomlinsonPhysically, they look the same.  The number on their jersey hasn’t changed nor does a red cross mysteriously materialize on their helmet.  Intellectually, we must assume they are sound and their faculties are still intact.  So what actually happens?  The simple answer is, their body can no longer execute the split second commands that their brain demands.

Nostalgia aside, does LaDainian Tomlinson have anything left in the tank?  As a starting running back the answer is no.  However, can he be the difference between you winning and losing your paycheck on the ticket you bought on the Jets to win the AFC East?  You can bet on it!

The Jets are a team that is on the rise but they’ve got those pesky Patriots always standing in their way.  They continue to retool a team that was about as good as it has been in years but if they get Tomlinson, they add a whole new dimension to a team that led the NFL in rushing last year.  Tomlinson can not only spell rookie sensation Shonn Greene but more importantly allows Mark Sanchez a safety valve coming out of the backfield as Tomlinson is a superb route runner and still has the soft hands to catch anything thrown his way.

Defenses around the NFL will have to take note and the AFC East crown may just change hands if Tomlinson decides green and white are now his favorite colors.

Ladanian Tomlinson  is the latest example of pure natural talent and God given ability succumbing to the merciless hand of Father Time.  When superstars are in their prime they have no equal.  Superlatives abound and the hero worship of both the fans and the media spirals so out of control it becomes commonplace to rank the newest big thing as the best of his generation if not among the greatest who ever played the game.

The coronation isn’t complete until the media begins reporting how smart, savvy, funny, generous, kind or any other adjective that further adds to the mystique.  Naturally this creates the illusion that this man is not only gifted athletically but spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and there’s a better than even money chance he calls his mother every day.

Only a few stand the test of time after the cheers have faded and their face no longer routinely graces the covers of magazines and newspapers.  Running backs like Jim Brown, Walter “Sweetness” Payton, Barry Sanders, Emmit Smith and the reviled but nonetheless supremely talented O.J. Simpson are universally acknowledged to be in anyone’s top ten list.

Today, many would say no but once his shadow fades and he hangs up his cleats for good, only then will we really know where Tomlinson sits among the pantheon of the greatest ever to juke, jive and steamroll their way into the endzones of the NFL and the hearts of football fans everywhere.  Until then, did you hear that Adrian Peterson reads a book everyday and donates his entire paycheck to the United Way?

Vikings fans who want LT on board will be happy to see NFLshop.com is leaning their way. The site already is selling LT jerseys with a yet-to-be-determined number. For a mere $80 bucks, you can get one. What’s unclear is whether the NFL site is jumping the gun or breaking news.

LT: Minnesota Down, Heading To NY & The Jets

L_Tomlinson_1.jpg

As it turns out, L.T. could be returning to the Meadowlands.

Not the original L.T., who played for the Giants.  The new L.T., the nine-year veteran tailback and 2006 NFL MVP who is perched at eighth place on the all-time rushing list.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Tomlinson is scheduled to visit the Jets on Friday, if no deal is consummated in Minnesota.   L.T. was last seen leaving Minnesota with a Vikings jersey.

But if the Jets weren’t willing to pay Thomas Jones $5.8 million for 2010, they likely won’t cough up big money for L.T.  (It’s also possible that the Jets had a chance to pay Jones the same two-year, $5 million package he received from the Chiefs; if they opted not to do so, it’s unlikely that they would make a similar offer to Tomlinson.)  Have to love the Jets.

Apart from the money, Tomlinson wouldn’t be overshadowed by any of the team’s other running backs in New York, and he possibly could set himself up to make a bunch of extra cash in the many off-field opportunities that the Big Apple presents.  Think about L.T.’s face all over Times Square?  Will it still be Revis Island or LaDainian Square?  Also, the Jets climbed as far as the Vikings did in 2009 — and there’s every reason to believe they’ll be right in the thick of things in 2010.

And if playing the Chargers is a factor, it’s a wash in either city; both the Jets and the Vikings are next scheduled to play San Diego in 2011.  (Of course, either or both teams could play the Chargers in the 2010 postseason.)

Either way, the Vikings have gotten the first crack at signing L.T. — and the key factors remain price tag and buy-in by L.T. regarding his second-fiddle role to Adrian Peterson.