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Athletes Blog News QUAZ

Jay Fiedler

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If you’re a Jew, and you love sports, you can’t get enough of Jewish athletes.

I’m not entirely sure why this is, though it probably has much to do with that fact that, as a people, we sorta suck at things involving throwing and catching. Want your taxes done? We’re killer. Need an agent? We rock. Write a song, solve a puzzle, explain the meaning of life? We Jews have pretty much got it covered.

But sports? Eh … not quite.

That’s why today’s Quaz thrills me. Jay Fiedler—Dartmouth grad and my fellow Jew—spent nearly a decade in the NFL, bouncing around for a few years before landing the starting gig in Miami in 2000 (His task? Oh, nothing big … just replace Dan Marino). Jay wrapped his career with the Jets and Buccaneers, and his 69 career touchdown passes are 69 more career touchdown passes than you and I combined to throw.

Today, Jay is co-director of Sports Academy at Brookwood Camps, a New York-based summer camp program run by the Fiedler family. You can follow Jay on Twitter here.

Jay Fiedler, mazel tov. You’re the Quaz …

JEFF PEARLMAN: So Jay, while researching your career I was shocked—beyond shocked—to see that you’ve now been out of the NFL for more than a decade. This is actually something that happens to me quite often. I’ll look up a retired athlete, assume he’s been retired, oh, four or five years—then wind up surprised that it’s been so long. Or, put different, I feel like I was watching you a handful of seasons ago. What I wonder is, does it feel this way to you, too? Like, do you feel like a guy who hasn’t played in 10 years? Has it gone fast? Slow? Does it feel like another lifetime?

JAY FIEDLER: It’s funny you say that, because I feel the same way at times. Where did the years go? It still feels like it was yesterday when I was playing. The memories of the games and the locker room camaraderie are still so vivid so it doesn’t seem like that long ago, but when I get together with former teammates, I do realize that we are a lot older than we used to be.

J.P.: Kinda random, but since we’re both Jewish and I love Jewish jocks—how observant were/are you? Were you raised religiously? Bar Mitzvah? Did you parents drag you to synagogue? Do you feel like a cultural Jew? Religious Jew? Neither? Both? And how has been Jewish impacted your life?

J.F.: I was raised with a strong Jewish identity, but I won’t say we were very religious. Which is to say I did go to Hebrew school and I had my Bar Mitzvah in a reform temple, but did not go to synagogue after that. I do consider myself more of a cultural Jew with much pride in my identity. The sense of community and family that Judaism stresses has had a great impact on me.

J.P.: You had, by far, an above-average NFL career. You lasted more than a decade, you were a starting quarterback. But I wonder, what was the difference between you and superstar quarterbacks? I mean zero offense. But could you have been Marino/Elway/Steve Young/Brett Favre? Or are there physical or mental (or both) limitations? And what makes the greats great?

J.F.: As a competitor, I’d like to think that given the right opportunity and circumstances, I could be discussed in the company of the greats. The greats are great for a multitude of reasons. Each of the four you mentioned had different physical skill sets, but the commonality is incredible work ethic, instinct, dedication, grit, competitiveness and durability.

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J.P.: I’m guessing you saw “Concussion.” I’m also guessing you follow the CTE story. So I have to ask: A. How are you? B. Are you scared? C. How do you feel about football these days? D. Is the sport in any trouble? E. Are you OK with kids playing? I mean, I know you train players. So how can you/we make certain everything works out OK?

J.F.: I don’t need Hollywood drama to tell me what I already know. I have not seen the movie, but I am quite familiar with the story and the issues. (A): I have had a few concussions in my career, but I don’t currently have any after effects or post-concussion symptoms. (B): I wouldn’t say I’m scared, but I am aware of the potential issues I may face in the future. (C): I have always loved the sport of football and still do. Sports are all physical in a way, but football has become the face of the concussion issue because of its nature and its popularity. It’s the same popularity which makes the NFL, NCAA and High school associations great vehicles for educating the public about how to deal with concussions better than ever before. (D): There is a lot of talk about football being in trouble because of the lower participation numbers at the youth level. I don’t think the sport is losing many of the top level athletes though, so I don’t see the pipeline falling off too much. (E): Tackle football is not, and shouldn’t be a sport for everyone. Let flag football be the participation sport for youth, but tackle football should be only for those who are physically able to protect themselves on the field.

J.P.: What’s been your post-retirement path? I mean, you stop playing in 2006—and are you lost? Sad? Thrilled? I know you owned the East Kentucky Miners of the CBA—which is definitely quirky and interesting. And why did you ultimately join the family business and start running the Sports Academy at Brookwood Camps? And what does that entail?

J.F.: When I injured my shoulder in 2005 with the Jets, I thought that I would be able to return to the NFL after surgery. It ended up taking two surgeries and two years to finally realize that a return to play wasn’t going to happen. During that time rehabbing, I had the opportunity to get involved in a small way with a minor league basketball team in Florida. I grew up in a basketball family and always loved the sport, so when the opportunity to stay competitive in athletics after I officially retired from football presented itself by owning a CBA team, I jumped on it. It was certainly an interesting experience seeing professional sports from the other side of the paycheck.

I got involved with some other businesses as a consultant and business developer, but when my father’s health began to fade, it opened up the opportunity to join my brother in running our family’s summer camp business. We transitioned our traditional sleep-away camp into a combination of the best sports camps and traditional camps in one. With our connections in the sports world, we are able to attract world-class instructors at The Sports Academy at Brookwood Camps that no other traditional camp can match.  We give our campers amazing instruction in the activities they love, while also giving them a family atmosphere that allows them to have great summertime fun.

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J.P.: You’re famous for being the guy who replaced Dan Marino. At the time you played it very cool–but what sort of pressures did that come with? How did you handle it?

J.F.: I have always had a very even-keel personality with a practical outlook. I knew there was nothing I could do in Miami to match what Dan did with the Dolphins from a statistical standpoint, but I also knew that I could win games playing to my strengths. My focus was on earning the respect of my teammates by working hard and doing whatever it takes to win.

J.P.: Ryan Fitzpatrick is called “smart” 1,000 times per NFL broadcast because he attended Harvard, just as you were called “smart” 1,000 times per NFL broadcast because you attended Dartmouth. But does it matter? Like, is a quarterback from Harvard or Dartmouth at any sort of on-field intellectual advantage than a guy from Delaware or LSU or Washington State? And what did Dartmouth do for you, football-wise?

J.F.: I hated when they labeled me that way, not because I didn’t think I was smart, but because the way people said it implied that I wasn’t that athletic. To answer your question though, book smart and football smart are two very different things. It still takes a good deal of intelligence to be football smart, but you must be able to transfer intelligence from playbook and opponent study into instinct. The best thing Dartmouth did for me, football-wise, was put me in an environment where you knew that you needed to be exceptional at something to stand out and excel.

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J.P.: What’s the absolute worst pain you ever felt as a football player? And what’s the story behind it?

J.F.: The worst pain physically was when I tore my left shoulder in 2000, my first season in Miami. I got sacked against Tampa Bay and when the defender threw me down, I landed with my elbow in the ground. The force pushed my humerus bone right up through my rotator cuff. I had to play with a harness on my shoulder and couldn’t hand off with my left arm, but I played through it for the rest of the season and into the playoffs.

J.P.: Is it weird being remembered for something you can no longer do? Do you know what I mean? Like, I ran track in college—and nobody gives a shit. My wife was in a sorority at Bucknell—distant past. But if I say “Jay Fiedler” to people, they immediately think of you first and foremost as a quarterback. Is that OK? Does it get old? Do you mind telling stories from your career? Do you just wanna move on?

J.F.: That’s OK with me. It’s nice to be remembered for something, isn’t it? If it gives me the opportunity to meet new and interesting people, then I can always shift the conversation in the direction I want. I don’t mind telling stories from my career, just don’t bring up the Monday Night game against the Jets. That’s when I want to move on.

J.P.: Were I a professional athlete, I probably wouldn’t want to deal with me. What I mean is, I’d find the media annoying/irritating/intrusive. I’d probably wanna scream, “What the hell do you know?” So … what’d you think? How did you deal? What about after an awful loss, when you played like crap, and the questions come? How bad is that?

J.F.: I never minded answering the tough questions after a loss. I just didn’t like when journalists already wrote their stories before asking the questions. I also didn’t like the lack of originality at times. I must have answered the same questions a thousand times my first year in Miami after replacing Marino.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH JAY FIEDLER:

• The world needs to know—what was it like playing with Dedric Ward?: Dedric caught two of my biggest completions in Miami during two-minute drills. One was a long gain to set up the game winning field goal against Denver and the other was a fourth down completion against Oakland on the game winning drive.

• Rank in order (favorite to least): Gefilte fish, Olindo Mare, espresso, Dabney Coleman, Chris Childs, cranberry muffins, plastic silverware, Chick Fil A, public toilets, the Jaguars’ hemets: Olindo Mare, espresso, Chris Childs, cranberry muffins, Jaguars helmets, Gefilte fish (gotta have lots of horseradish with it, though), Dabney Coleman, Chick Fil A, plastic silverware, public toilets.

• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, what do you recall?: Never. I’m a good flyer.

• The five most physically talented teammates you ever played with: Randy Moss, Herschel Walker, Junior Seau, Ricky Williams, Jason Taylor.

• Five reasons one should attend Dartmouth over Yale, Harvard or Stanford: Amazing down-to-earth people, Sophomore Summer, the most Ivy League football titles, “Animal House”, the EBA’s chicken sandwich.

• Three memories from your Bar Mitzvah: Bad singing on the bimah, tons of food, first cigar.

• Do Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens belong in the Hall of Fame?: Yes

• What’s your secret quirky talent?: Wouldn’t be a secret if I tell you now, would it?

• I’d rather eat my Aunt Mary’s mucus than live for a prolonged time in Jacksonville. What am I missing?: The great golf in the area.

• Three interesting things you can tell me about your mother: She is a breast cancer survivor, she became a Browns fan as a kid when my grandfather took her to a football game against the Giants, she collects frog figures and artwork.

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Athletes Blog News QUAZ

Ken O’Brien

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Back when we were kids, growing up on Emerald Lane in Mahopac, N.Y. Matt Walker and I lived for the New York Jets. They were our team, and even though the green and white never sniffed a Super Bowl, we were as loyal as loyal gets. Name a player (even the worst friggin’ players) and we were diehards. Wesley Walker, Lance Mehl, Al Toon, Joe Klecko, Pat Leahy, Marty Lyons—those were our guys.

But no one was more important than Ken O’Brien.

In case you don’t remember, Ken spent 10 years as a Jet. He had absolutely breathtaking arm strength, looked off receivers well, took hits like the toughest of men. Did he always get rid of the ball, eh, quickly? No. But that was his only glaring weakness.

Oh, wait. He had one more weakness—something not of his doing. O’Brien was selected by the Jets with the 24th pick in the 1983 NFL Draft … three spots ahead of Dan Marino. So as the Dolphin legend went on to have a Hall of Fame career, Jet fans often wondered what could have been …

I never felt that way. Truly, I didn’t. O’Brien was a helluva player. He was my boyhood quarterback.

Anyhow, here Ken talks about the 1983 Draft, about the wacky life of a Philadelphia Eagle and how one adjusts when the cheering stops. He now lives in Manhattan Beach, and works in wealth management.

Ken O’Brien, screw the Hall of Fame. You’ve been Quazed …

JEFF PEARLMAN: I recently saw an ESPN 30 for 30 on the 1983 draft, and it’s always the same. Marino! Elway! Kelly! Studs! Eason, Blackledge—sorta busts. And Ken O’Brien—um, yeah. Strikes me as unfair to a really great NFL career. Bug you at all?

KEN O’BRIEN: You know, to be honest I know it’s there and three of the guys are in the Hall of Fame. So they’re great players, but they’re also all great guys. And we’ve had the chance to get together. It’s an honor to be friends of theirs and have competed against them. But you only control what you control. Every situation is different. What I had in New York was different than what other guys had. I’m not saying worse, but different. And inside that building things were done in ways that you didn’t always see on the outside. I played with great guys, and I wouldn’t change that at all. But as far as the perception—it is out there. I know it is. But I don’t lose any sleep over it. I know I did everything I could do. It’s a cliché, but I really tried to give 110 percent every day. I can’t look back much after that. I did my best. I’m comfortable with that.

J.P.: Blair Thomas once told me being a Jet back then was … different. And he sorta felt that, had Emmitt Smith been drafted by New York and Blair went to Dallas, everything about his career is different. Better.

K.O.: I think it sort of does. Blair was a great guy, and he was coming off being hurt a couple of times. So it took him, physically, a while to get to be 100 percent. But every organization is different. And you learn along the way. That was a time when I was young, and had I learned a little more and approached things differently, maybe I could have made the team better. I don’t know. You’re a sum of all your experiences.

J.P.: You were  a California kid—Jesuit High, Cal Davis. What was it like transitioning to New York? The frenzy? The cold? Worse than one would think? Easier?

K.O.: Well, my mom and dad are … my dad is from Kew Gardens, my mom is from Bay Ridge. My uncles are New York City cops. My entire family is back there, so it was fun going back. I got to spend more time with my aunts and uncles and cousins than I ever before did. When I was a kid we’d vacation in New York. I mean, in those days vacations with six kids were like Brady Bunch rides. So we didn’t do a ton of them. But when we went back, my uncles would take us around. One time we went to see the pitchers from the World Series team of 1969. They were doing an event at a park. Seaver, Ryan, Koosman. They’d take us to the Jet facility, and I actually met Joe Namath when I was a little kid. Small world.

So coming to New York as a player felt like coming home in many ways. That made it pretty easy.

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J.P.: When you played, the big knock was that you held onto the ball too long. 1. Fair? 2. Easier said than done?

K.O.: I mean, anyone’s opinion is fair, so I don’t blame that. But it’s what you’re asked to do on offense. Back then, maybe it was my deal, but I was supposed to stand in there, take a shot, get rid of the ball. The game has changed—now you see guys getting rid of the ball real quick. One-step slants, back-shoulder throws, all these things that are involved now that were not part of the game then. I think it’s the evolution of the game. For me, you do what the offense asks. I mean, I guess the easy answer is if I saw someone open sooner, I would have let the ball go sooner. But it’s sometimes being stubborn, too, because you always think there’s a chance to make a big play. So could I have been better at it? Yes. And we worked on it. But at the same time you’re trying to make the plays as guys get open, and you wanna hang in there as long as you can.

J.P.: I’m as fascinated by ends as beginning. In 1993 you went to camp with Green Bay, you were cut, then you spent the season in Philly with Randall Cunningham and Bubby Brister. Good? Bad? When did you know it was over?

K.O.: It started out strange at Green Bay. I was comfortable in New York. I knew my teammates, my coaches, the office managers, everyone. All the guys in the building. There’s a real comfort factor. Then you go to a new place, and you have no home and you’re starting over. It’s hard to explain, but it was hard for me.

When I finally got to Philly, well, I wish I’d stayed in New York for 20 years. Going to Philly was a great life experience, because Philly was so different than anything I’d seen in the world of football before. It was just crazy. It was run by the prisoners a bit. Buddy Ryan had just left and he bent over backward to give the players all sorta of controls. Especially defensive players. Then Richie Kotite came in and he was there and he had all the holdovers from Buddy’s era, and there was just some crazy funny stuff, things that would never happen in the 10 years in New York. There were just some outstanding stories …

J.P.: Wait! How about an example?

K.O.: It was every day. Guys were on their own schedules, they showed up when they wanted to. There was a race one day … this is a great one. It was late in the year and Philly had an offense vs. defense type deal. That’s what Buddy had instilled—defense would win games, offense just couldn’t screw it up. That’s the short version of the impression I got when I talked with other guys. Because I never played for Buddy. And Zeke Bratkowski was the quarterback coach, and he had that job with the Jets. I became friends with Mark Bavaro and Herschel Walker—go down the list and there were a bunch of really good guys there. It was an opportunity to be with some quality guys. And one day at practice I was walking with Herschel, and we had a defensive back named Mark McMillian. He’s a little guy, probably one of the really fast corners in the league. And a bunch of guys were giving Herschel a hard time, and Herschel never said anything. And they were laughing at him, calling him an old man. Herschel and I were close to the same age, and he was so accomplished. They didn’t even know he’d won the Heisman Trophy. They had no idea all he’d accomplished. And Herschel didn’t say a word. It was snowing, we were practicing outside, and Mark challenged Herschel to a race. And I was taking bets, and I was putting everything on Herschel. I promoted him. And he gets out and they get on the field, and Richie Kotite and Bud Carson are holding some DO NOT CROSS tape. And they’ve got down jackets on, gloves, hats. It’s freezing out. And here comes McMillian, and he’s got his tights on. Everyone else is freezing, but Mark has the tights on. And Herschel doesn’t show up. He’s not there. He’s not coming out. And they’re all making fun. “Your buddy’s not coming out. Hahahaha.” And finally here comes Herschel, and he’s coming out like he’s going to practice, gear on—shoulder pads, pants, helmet. And they’re like, ‘He’s not gonna run!” Making fun. And he walks up to the line and says, “OK, you ready to go?” And they get down to race, and guys are lined up—offense on one side, defense on the other.

On your mark …

Get set …

Go …

And when they said “Go,” the look on the kid’s face after five yards was disbelief. Herschel comes up and he’s gone. And Mark knows at five yards he’s done. This speeding bullet goes by. And Herschel beats him, and Coach Kotite has the money in his hand, Herschel jogs by, grabs it, jogs into the locker room and practice is over. That was it. Everyone was laughing. It was the funniest thing you’d ever seen. The poor kid had no idea he was with a world-class sprinter.

Every week something like that would happen. The Eagles were the Animal House of the NFL.

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J.P.: A lot has been made of concussions and the afterlife of football players. How are you? What do you think of the lawsuits? Concerned for yourself?

K.O.: Fortunately I’m OK. I just turned 54. When I turned 50 I was fine. You do have aches and pains, but maybe that’s just getting old. Your back, your knees, everything else. I’m not what I used to be, but I don’t think anyone would notice anything falling apart on me just yet.

As far as the concussions and lawsuits, I think there are a lot of guys out there who are much worse. You run into former players occasionally and you wish there was something in place where they could get some help. I know they’re fighting for it, I know it’s a big money deal—but at the end of the day it’s the right thing to do to help guys get through this. It’s just the right thing to do. A lot of them can’t get the right medical insurance, and they need help. I actually went into this business because I wanted to help people after seeing people go sideways.

J.P.: You played in front of 50,000 people, adrenaline, fame, perks. How did you adjust when it ended?

K.O.: The main thing that I learned—it’s hard to replace the passion. I mean, it’s not like when you’re playing football you’re working. Every day you’re doing something you enjoy doing. You’re working out, you’re developing a game plan, you’re throwing a football. Are you’re around guys who become your best friends. There’s a reason why football is so popular—people love it, and we loved playing it. I certainly did. So how do you replace that passion? It’s very hard. Do you want to go and work in a bank? Maybe, but it’s not the same. You’re punching in, you’re working 8-to-5. I bounced around a lot, trying to find something that gives me satisfaction. It took time. But you also need things outside of work—family, kids, travel, hobbies. Because you’ll never fully replace what you had. It’s probably impossible. You’re only passionate about so many things.

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At UC Davis back in the day.

J.P.: People always say when they’re playing, “This will haunt me.” Do you feel haunted by never making a Super Bowl? Do you care?

K.O.: I wouldn’t say haunted. But the goal every year was to make it. You feel unfulfilled in that regard, especially because we came close. It does matter, but it’s one of those things where I know my teammates gave everything they had, and I did. We fell short, but we fell short fighting. Whether it was a play or running out of time, it didn’t work out. if you didn’t give it everything you had, it’d hurt.

J.P.: I remember when you left New York and they brought in Boomer Esiason, gave him your number, and it struck me as disrespectful to a longtime quarterback. Did I read that wrongly?

K.O.: You know, I never really spent any time thinking about it. It really wasn’t a big thing for me. Number doesn’t mean anything to me. They actually called later down the line, and someone with the organization apologized and said they made a mistake. But I said, ‘No big deal.’ There are a lot of things to lose sleep over. That’s not one of them.

Now if you ask my wife, she might have a slightly different opinion.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH KEN O’BRIEN:

• The world needs to know—what was it like playing with Nuu Faaola?: Ha. It was exciting every day. It was like I was back in the tropics.

• Who’s the most underrated guy you ever played with?: Dan Alexander, our offensive guard. Dan played at LSU as a defensive lineman. He came to the Jets when they had the Sack Exchange, moved to offensive guard and stayed there for ages. He was terrific. Plus, he had a great mustache.

• How often are you recognized?: Um, as I get older and further removed from it not as much as I used to. But every once in a while someone says something nice about an old guy that makes me feel good.

• Five greatest quarterbacks of your lifetime: Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, John Elway, Dan Marino. And, ooh boy, Tom Brady and Brett Favre and Peyton Manning are all there. But I’m going Bert Jones. He had a rifle. Plus, I’ve gone hunting with him. You can’t ignore hunting buddies with strong arms.

• Three reasons one should make Manhattan Beach home?: I don’t think they should. Pass it by. It’s full. There’s no room for anybody else here. I’m not publicizing it; saying that you should come live down here. You should go to Laguna. It’s so much better.

• How’d you meet your wife?: We grew up together. I met her the first time when we were in seventh grade.

• What’s your Super Bowl prediction?: Tough one. Pete Carroll is a good friend, he lives down the street. But I really like Tom Brady. I’m not good at predictions, but whoever can put pressure on the quarterback will win. I think Seattle will find a way. Somehow. They have a lot of speed in every area. They find ways defensively to do it.

• What are the five ugliest NFL uniforms?: Um, not including throwbacks. I think the Bengals uniform is horrendous. I don’t like the color for Carolina. Tampa Bay doesn’t do anything for me. And put the Dolphins up there, too. I hate the Dolphins on general principle.

• Because he was drafted before Jerry Rice and got hurt early, people forget about Al Toon. How good was he?: He was a freak. He was a really good friend, first, and we’ve kept in touch. But as far as a player, he was a freak. He could do everything. He was like a quarterback in that he understood the whole offensive scheme. We could communicate with just a look. He made some unbelievable catches all the time in practices, games. He could do whatever he had to do to get open, deceptively strong. And when he had someone chasing him, no one caught him. The longer he played, the better he would have been in people’s memories. But he’s one of the best.

• Are the Jets cursed?: No. Todd Bowles is an interesting hire. They’re really happy with him as the new coach. Rex has a way about him—he’s a great player’s coach, but if it doesn’t click after a while people stop listening. It got to the point. But the Jets need to settle on a quarterback and have confidence in him. The last three games or so, Geno Smith played well and looked like he got it. I haven’t watched film to know he’s the guy to take us there. But I sure hope so.

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Blog

The Jets and Quarterbacks

Namath and Todd. Like caviar and canned tuna.
Namath and Todd. Like caviar and canned tuna.

Back when I was growing up on the mean streets of Mahopac, N.Y., there were two kids who were die-hard Jets fans.

One was, well, me.

The other was Matthew Walker, who owned (not lying) his very own Blair Thomas T-shirt.

Recently, Matty and I were talking via Facebook about the Jets’ quarterback history. Specifically, we ranked the all-time five best QBs in franchise history. We pretty much agreed on this …

1. Joe Namath—No brainer.

2. Ken O’Brien—Scorned because he was drafted before Dan Marino, but it’s sort of unfair. O’Brien was a helluva player. Always had a very high completion percentage, owned an absolute gun. Was he Marino? No. But he’s closer to Elway-Kelly-Marino (the big three from the ’83 Draft) than Tony Eason and Todd Blackledge (the lower two).

3. Chad Pennington—Pretty good player with no arm strength but, like O’Brien, unique accuracy. Injuries hurt a solid career.

4. Vinny Testaverde—Big arm, local boy, had some excellent seasons.

5. Richard Todd—To watch Todd regularly was to realize he wasn’t very good. OK game manager, blessed with Wesley Walker and Mickey Shuler; cursed with Lam Jones. Was traded to Saints and bombed.

There are some arguments to be made. Does Mark Sanchez eke out Todd? What about Boomer? Brett Favre was a Jet for a year. Pat Ryan wore No. 10. Kyle Mackey existed. Browning Nagle … um, yeah.

It’s a terrible list. There’s no getting around that truth. Terrible. Namath was a groundbreaking quarterback who deserves his legendary status, but—when talking play alone—he’s not No. 1 for most franchises. The 49ers have Joe Montana and Steve Young, the Cowboys have Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, the Patriots have Brady, the Colts Unitas and Manning and (I’d argue) Bert Jones. I hate to admit this, but I’d take Y.A. Tittle, Phil Simms or Eli Manning over Namath. Sorry, man. I would.

Truth be told, the Jets may well have the worst five in the NFL (not including the most recent expansion teams). The Bears are pretty thin at QB, but they’ve still got Sid Luckman, Jim McMahon and Jay Cutler. The Eagles aren’t breathtaking, but Norm Van Brocklin, Randall Cunningam and Donovan McNabb trumps the Jets.

Anyhow, I’m babbling. Let’s discuss …

Categories
Blog

The Debate: Fire Rex Ryan vs. Keep Rex Ryan

I remember being in college and desperately wanting a chance to write somewhere … anywhere. Generally, that led to frustration.

Hence, I decided to invite college journalists here to debate me on random subjects. I’ll run these from time to time, when I’m feeling particularly funky. Today, Vince Pitrone, an excellent University of Pittsburgh at Bradford student, and I debate whether Rex Ryan should remain as the Jets coach ….

Vince Pitrone on Firing Rex Ryan

Rex Ryan has failed the Jets team and the Jets fan base the past two seasons, and should be fired.

After reaching the AFC title game two years in a row, Rex and the Jets have underachieved the past two seasons and are becoming the laughing stock of the league—and it all comes down to Rex and his coaching staff not doing a good job coaching a team with enough talent to be better than it is.

The Jets’ offense has been stagnant, at best. In my opinion, no one really knows what is going on, and as head coach, Rex is to blame. He even looks lost sometimes. This was never more obvious than during the game against the Patriots, when Mark Sanchez ran into the butt of his own lineman and fumbled the ball. It was then picked up by the Patriots, and returned it for a touchdown (on a play that Tim Tebow should have been running). By the way, the constant switching of quarterbacks and use of the wildly unsuccessful “Wildcat” throughout the course of season definitely hasn’t helped the Jets either.

There is a total lack of unity on defense that has impacted the entire locker room, which Ryan hasn’t had control over for the past two seasons. Throughout Rex’s time in New York, there have been good times and bad times. As of late the bad has out weighed the good, and this team is moving in the wrong direction.

It’s time for a change in New York, and though it is not all his fault, Rex should be the first to go.

Vince Pitrone wants Rex to go.

Jeff Pearlman on Keeping Rex Ryan

I’ve been a fan of the New York Jets significantly longer than Vince Pitrone has been alive.

Craps, I’ve lived through the drafting of Lam Jones; Richard Todd’s five interceptions against Miami; Ken O’Brien over Dan Marino; Blair Thomas over Emmitt Smith; Al Toon’s concussions; Rich Kotite’s ineptitude … on and on and on and on. To be blunt, being a Jet loyalist sucks, because the team always, always, always, always finds a way to fuck things up. Always.

Hence, I vote for keeping Rex Ryan.

Is he a good head coach? Lord, no. The Jets lack offensive rhyme, defensive rhythm and any remote morsel of discipline. Save for Mike Ditka and, perhaps, Terrell Owens, I can’t think of a bigger NFL buffoon than Ryan. Really, I can’t. And yet … what difference does it make? The Jets will lose with John Gruden, they’ll lose with Bill Cowher, they’ll lose with Brian Billick and they’ll lose with the ghost of Bill Walsh. They’ll always lose, because that’s what the Jets do.

So, if the franchise is predisposed to failure, why not let Ryan stick around and entertain us with fruitless guarantees and inane proclamations and foot fetishes?

Do you have anything better to do?