Friday, May 29, 2009

Grant Michael Clemens

Baby Boy Clemens has arrived. Grant Michael Clemens joins dad Kellen, mom Nicole and sister Kate.

Nicole went into labor yesterday during OTAs causing Kellen to go sprinting for the locker room before practice had ended.

Congratulations to the Clemens family.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

OTAs - Weekly Update

Busy day today out at Jets OTAs. Practice was going along nicely when David Harris got clocked in the mouth by safety Jim Leonhard who was going full speed on a punt return. Harris was standing on the sideline, without his helmet on, when Leonhard's helmet slammed into him. First reports were that he had lost a couple of teeth, but according to Rex Ryan that didn't happen and he should be OK.

Then with a couple of minutes left to go in practice, Kellen Clemens took off for the locker room at a dead run. His wife Nicole had called to tell Clemens that she had gone into labor. This is the Clemens' second child. We know it's a boy, we don't know the name yet (I will pass it along when I find out), and he joins older sister Kate.

As for the football portion of things, the defense was, by their own admission, a little under par from their past few outings - although those of us watching thought they still looked pretty darn good. Leonhard described it as, "One of those days. We gave up too much in the red zone."

The offense is still finding its way a little bit but has improved. Sanchez is getting more comfortable although he threw a bunch of incompletions and had a ball picked off. However, he seems to be making progress.

"Everyday it's getting better," he said. "There are little things I'm starting to do now that kind of keep our defense off guard a little bit. I'm getting more and more comfortable as the days go on and that's the way I want it to be."

We may be almost done talking about the GQ piece, just one question about that today.

As for Kerry Rhodes, he did speak to the media and all of the questions were regarding, or alluding to, the recent allegations that a woman was raped in his home. So he answered seven of eight questions by saying "It's a pending legal matter and I can't really talk about it."

Rhodes at least showed up. Running back Thomas Jones who was at practice for the second straight day did not make an appearance during the more-than-one hour that the media was in the locker room. Jones has never gone out of his way to be available so this wasn't a huge surprise, but certainly disappointing.

Leon Washington was again a no-show although as I've said before, I will be surprised if we don't see him at the mandatory mini-camp in two weeks.

By the way, hats off to running back Jehuu Caulcrick who managed to get changed with little fuss in spite of the horde of media impeding his progress at his locker. Caulcrick and linebacker Brandon Renkart have the questionable luck of having their lockers sandwiched between Jones and Sanchez.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

David Clowney Hosts Football Camp

Props to David Clowney who is putting on what promises to be an amazing football camp on Saturday, June 6th back home in Palm Beach County, Florida.

Clowney put the whole thing together himself, contacting individual high schools in the area that he grew up in to see if they would be interested in getting their players to participate. At this point he has players from 10 different schools taking part.

An area with an enormously high crime rate - with one of the highest murder rates in the state of Florida - Clowney knows first hand the challenges of getting out of that environment and wanted to offer his support and guidance to show these young people that opportunities do exist.

As young as he is (23), it speaks to the reputation he has already built among his fellow players when you see the list of those who will be helping him out: From the New York Jets - D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Vernon Gholston, Stanley Daniels, Kareem Brown, Mike DeVito and Wallace Wright, along with Chad Pennington and Eric Green of the Dolphins, Abram Elam, now with the Browns, LaMarr Woodley of the Steelers, Al Harris of the Packers, former NFL receiver Antonio Freeman, Eric Green, Vince Hall of the Bills, and Sinorice Moss of the Giants.

The players will run the camp that will teach a variety of elements including not only football work, but information about proper nutrition along with a session especially for parents regarding the college scouting process.

When you have a minute, check out Clowney's website.

Good News / Bad News

OTAs continue and there is media access tomorrow. Thomas Jones is back. Leon Washington is not. Then there's the Kerry Rhodes thing. My thoughts boil down to this:

Good News - Thomas Jones' return will deflect from the ongoing clusterf*** at Mark Sanchez's locker.

Bad News - Jones' and Sanchez's lockers are just feet apart.

Good News - Kerry Rhodes' locker is on other side of room

Bad News - Rhodes may avoid locker room and if he doesn't, will (understandably) have nothing to say

Any questions?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Now On the Football Field Iraq War Veteran Kotwica Never Forgets the Battlefield

When talking recently about assistant special teams coache Ben Kotwica, Rex Ryan said, "I think he's going to be a star in this league. I could see him [as a head coach]."

Kotwica's current role is a far cry from where he was in 2004, part of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2, flying Apache Attack Helicopters in the Iraqi war.

Kotwica graduated from West Point in 1996 and after graduation, he served in several other parts of the world including Korea and Afghanistan before arriving in Iraq. He described his job in succinct terms, "I was an Apache driver. I shot and blew things up."

He and the other pilots were there to provide support to their fellow soldiers on the ground. When those troops were in trouble, that's when Kotwica would step in, doing whatever was necessary to help keep the American soldiers safe.

In the process, he lost members of his unit, people he continues to think about to this day, especially on days like Memorial Day.

Kotwica, who was awarded the prestigious Bronze Star, among other citations, outlined some of the unique challenges that this particular war presents to those fighting it. "It's not a clean, linear battle. It's like flying over Manhattan and you can't tell the good from the bad. I didn't take any satisfaction [in killing people], I don't take the loss of life easily."

Although his primary job was in the air, he witnessed everything from the most mundane to the most horrific, on the ground and over his cockpit radio, which piped in the the most intimate sounds of the battle right into the pilots ears.

"[Nothing] can prepare you for what the reality was on the ground. You see heroism, you see bravery, you see cowardice, you see fear."

Fortunately for Kotwica he has been able to manage the great trauma he experienced and witnessed, and even joked recently that while he does not experience flashbacks from the war, he does occasionally wake up screaming when he dreams about the Jets loss to Seattle last year.

While he chose the Army as his first career, Kotwica, who was a standout linebacker for Army, always knew he wanted to coach. "Growing up, I always looked at the coaches who coached me and said, 'this is something I'd like to do someday.'"

In 2006, having left the Army, that "someday" arrived. Kotwica was coaching at the U.S. Military Academy prep school when his former head coach at Army, Bob Sutton, (then the Jets defenseive coordinator, now linebackers coach) came calling. Sutton and then-head coach Eric Mangini decided to give the young war veteran a chance at his dream job.

"I left the Army because I really, really wanted to do this," he said of coaching. "And an opportunity presented itself. I consider being able to do this a tremendous privilege. I love what I'm doing right now."

However, he wants to make sure people never lose sight of what America's Armed Forces are doing. "You need to thank them for what they do. They put a lot into it and they sacrifice a ton."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Computer issues, hence the late entry today...

Today was the third and final day of Mark Sanchez's first OTAs. (Yes, the rest of the team was there too.) To quote Sanchez, "It was a good day...for the defense." The new QB, working with the twos was all over the place, throwing picks and missing a couple of open guys, for which he was reamed out by Brian Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer's generally a fun and laid-back guy, but watch out when something ticks him off. To Sanchez's credit he seems to roll with it and take everything for how it's intended - to get him better. He also worked closely with Clemens, who was also a little slow out of the gate today.

Rex Ryan described Sanchez's first week as the Good, Bad and the Ugly; Wednesday was Good, Tuesday was Bad and today was Ugly.

It will certainly get better, Sanchez appears to have really solid footwork and we know what kind of arm he has. Now it's just a matter of getting used to the NFL and learning the Jets playbook.

As for the GQ shoot, let's just say it's a lively and ongoing topic of conversation.

I talked to Alan Faneca about Sanchez (the quarterback, not the supermodel) and he pointed out that the adjustment is difficult becaues most of the time, and in Sanchez's case, a quarterback is in his college system for four years so he gets better and better and looks great at the end. Then he gets into the NFL and has to start all over again, learning to not think and working on instinctive reaction.

Not one person I spoke to in the locker room expressed anything other than complete confidence that Sanchez was well on his way to being fully up to speed.

Leon Washington and Thomas Jones were still no-shows. It's understood that Jones will show up at the mandatory camp in June, and if I had to put money on it, my hunch is that Washington will be there too.

The running backs corps took another hit as Shonn Greene pulled a hamstring, so while he rests Danny Woodhead and Jehuu Caulcrick are again getting the lion's share of the work, and looking pretty good.

On the tight end front, Ryan called Bubba Franks a "big-time blocker," comparing him to Ben Coates who went from being a major pass catcher to a serious blocker toward the end of his career. His status is still uncertain. They definitely expect him for training camp - mini-camp is still iffy.

As for the rest of the squad, pretty much business as usual. Guys were in even better moods than normal, most heading out of town for the long weekend - with the exception of Kellen Clemens who is awaiting the birth of his second child, due any day.

Kerry Rhodes wasn't at practice today, but he's Tweeting up a storm, so fear not, all is well there.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Slauson Signed, Others Still TBA

Jets announced today they signed their sixth round pick, offensive lineman Matt Slauson. Now that leaves Shonn Greene and Mark Sanchez needing contracts - and, of course, Leon Washington and Thomas Jones still wanting new ones.

Jones' agent, Drew Rosenhaus tweeted earlier (never in my life did I think I would use a phrase like that to describe how I received information, but I digress) that Jones will be at the Jets mandatory mini-camp next week.

It will be interesting to see if Washington will return or if he will continue to stay away. The fine for missing a mandatory mini-camp would cost somewhere around $7,000 per day for each day missed. From what I've been told, Washington's boycott was a decision that his camp arrived at as a group - including Washington himself.

Does Sanchez Have a New Friend?

Now that you've all probably had a chance to view Mark Sanchez's pictorial in GQ (, I'll pass along another little tidbit of info...turns out that Sanchez and Hilary Rhoda may be more than just fellow supermodels.

Conveniently, Rhoda lives in NYC.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sanchez Models Swimsuits for GQ's June Issue

You're a 22-year-old star quarterback about to be drafted in the NFL and GQ Magazine comes calling. What're you going to say? No?

The June issue of GQ (online at now, on stands in New York and Los Angeles Tuesday, May 19th and nationwide on May 26th) features Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez in a pictorial entitled "Built for the Beach." The California native and USC graduate models swimsuits alongside supermodel Hilary Rhoda.

The shoot was apparently done well before the Draft and therefore before Sanchez knew where he would be playing. However, the Broadway Joe comparisons may now pick up speed a bit...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Football and the Hippocratic Oath

While I really didn't want to write anything more about Brett Favre, the recent news about his shoulder and his consultation with renowned shoulder surgeon Dr. James Andrews, has aggravated me. I've talked to players for years about the problem with how their injuries are handled and I think it's time for things to change.

Favre has said that he knew he was injured during the season. I went on Sirius three days after he injured the shoulder and voiced my opinion that he was, in fact, hurt, but no acknowledgment of that came until the season ended. It was obvious to everyone that something was wrong. His control would come and go with balls going crazy places - a fact he also admitted recently.

The coaches knew he was injured because they would let him take plays off during practice to rest. Which begs the more important question: if the coaches knew, then clearly the team doctors also knew, so, why, did they let Favre play without putting him through the appropriate battery of tests that almost certainly would have revealed that he should not have been playing?

There are certain coaches who actually wield enough power to force their players to play through injuries in spite of the fact that the doctors are saying he shouldn't. However, again, shouldn't the doctor be in charge here?

While no player will go on the record with me for fear of retribution, there is a long-standing history at the Jets of the doctors not necessarily performing their due diligence. I have been told by numerous players over the years that it is not until they see their own doctors that they are given full testing and a complete diagnosis - and in many cases are then benched by their doctors until they recover from the injury.

One player several years ago, had his broken arm set so poorly that it now has a noticeable bump, which will require major surgery to correct (including re-breaking the bone).

Although players are certainly responsible if they lie to the doctors about how they are feeling (which they frequently do so that they can play), there are always objective tests that can be performed that will almost always tell the real story.

Football is a business and teams need their players to play - especially their best players. However, aren't doctors supposed to serve the needs of their patients?

One of the most notable lines from the Hippocratic Oath is: "do no harm."

Are doctors living up to this?

Thursday, May 14, 2009


OTA access today and a good time was had by all. Put players on a field without pads and they have as much or more fun as Rex Ryan, wants them to have. To quote Ryan, "It's hard to have a bad practice when guys are flying around and having fun."

On a serious note, Ryan admitted he is "disappointed" that Leon Washington (and Thomas Jones) are not around, but it is giving RBs Danny Woodhead and Jehuu Caulcrick a huge opportunity to showcase themselves. It's also a help to the coaches who now have a bigger body of work to evaluate these players from.

A shout-out to the new head coach who, with threatening skies this morning, moved the practice indoors in deference to the press corps. It didn't rain so he critiqued himself later for having made a "poor decision." We'll overlook it.

In the meantime, the defense is certainly showing their new take-no-prisoners attitude. They seemed to be everywhere on every play. Dustin Keller jokingly referred to the fact that there seemed to be "120 guys out there" on defense. For him the number must seem especially skewed since, right now, there are two total TEs.

Bubba Franks was at the practice, but not participating. According to Ryan he's rehabbing some sort of "knee thing," but they expect him to be ready for training camp. I found it mildly interesting that they signed him knowing he probably wouldn't be ready for next month's mini-camp.

Kareem Brown told me he's getting more comfortable at TE (and for those of you keeping track, he has settled in at 260lbs). He is spending more than two extra hours per day studying the playbook and has been coming back to the facility on some evenings to get in extra work with tight ends coach Mike Devlin.

Clemens was his usual self, relaxed and amiable, but right now it's his show, since the only other QB in the room was Erik Ainge.

Safety Eric Smith was on his way home to take an online final for the Masters degree he is working toward in Criminal Justice.

As for Ryan, it's hard to fully describe the new atmosphere he's brought to the press room, but let's just say there hasn't been that much laughter - and information - in there in a long time.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rumor, Innuendo, and Some Facts

Lots of rumor and innuendo flying about. I checked with my sources and the Adam "Pacman" Jones story of the Jets being interested in him is, indeed, false. My source says it was most likely a ploy by his agent to try to stir up interest.

Plaxico Burress on the other hand may actually have some legs (pun intended). If, of course, he doesn't go to prison. Oh, that.

Multiple reports that Thomas Jones is once again a no-show at the voluntary portion of the off-season. OTAs (organized team activities) started up again and he has not yet made an appearance. Frankly, I'm not surprised although I would be surprised if he is not getting increasingly nervous about all of the positive spin Shonn Greene is getting. I saw the ex-Iowa running back with my own two eyes - he's good. Really good. We have media access this week, so I'll let you know what I see. Highly doubt Jones will be there.

According to Dave Hutchinson of the Star-Ledger, Leon Washington is also not taking part in the OTAs. Like Jones, Washington is unhappy with his contract, but has been at the facility and took part in the first mini-camp and all the workouts to date. I'm guessing maybe his agent has recommended a different tactic. But, I'll let you know what I turn up.

Also per Hutch, the team has re-signed TE Bubba Franks. I know. Don't tell me, tell them. The team has also signed a few rookie TEs, all of whom will, ostensibly, compete in the upcoming mini-camp and training camp. And don't forget, there is also the Kareem Brown experiment. I've seen him coming and going to TE meetings so the conversion possibility is still alive. Physically he certainly looks the part now having lost somewhere around 35 pounds and is now in the area of 255.

QB Erik Ainge is back. He is keeping whatever kept him away for more than a month to himself. Because he is clearly not in the running for the starting job, the media was satisfied with that and has moved on.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Clemens Talks Quarterback Competition

Another open locker room period today and the first public appearance by QB Kellen Clemens since the team drafted Mark Sanchez. Always a pro, Clemens stuck to his script about only controlling what he can control. He is positioning this as competing with himself, rather than anyone else.

"I can either get mad and get frustrated or I can get better," he said. "The beautiful thing when your competing with yourself is it doesn't matter who your competition is."

It was Clemens' agent, David Dunn of Athletes First, who was the first to call Clemens with the news that the Jets had traded up to get Sanchez. Dunn represents both players. As it turned out, Dunn called just as Clemens was returning home and he turned the TV on in time to watch the whole thing unfold.

Even at this early juncture, it is highly unlikely that Clemens will win the starting job. The team has (or will have) too much invested in Sanchez to let him sit on the bench. While most of the players in the locker room are at the very least intrigued by what Sanchez brings to the table (and at most excited) Clemens is extremely popular with his teammates and all the ones I've spoken to are loathe to go on the record saying or telling me anything that could be even remotely interpreted as negative toward him.

There was a humorous moment when TE Dustin Keller nonchalantly walked over and joined the group of reporters surrounding Clemens - while brushing his teeth with a purple toothbrush. It took Clemens a minute to notice, but when he did, he didn't miss a beat. Now that's concentration and focus.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Good Time Had By All at Taste of the NFL

I had the great pleasure of attending the Jets Taste of the NFL at Cipriani's Wall Street last night. What a nicely done event. Lots of players on hand mingling with guests and signing autographs. Each player there had a signed helmet up for auction - Dustin Keller's went for $3500.

Nick Mangold took over emceeing duties from Bob Wischusen at one point and managed to auction himself off as a dinner companion for $13,000. Knowing Mangold, the entertainment value will be well worth the money paid.

Best food of the night was Nobu 57's seared salmon with a miso sauce. I wish I could describe it to you. A close second was the shrimp tempura from Tao. If you go to either place, order those dishes! Lots of other top restaurants were on hand including Michael's, Michael Jordan's The Steakhouse, Blue Smoke and on and on.

The players were all having a great time as well, Wallace Wright, Darrelle Revis, Mangold, Keller and Tony Richardson, among others all told me how much they enjoy attending this event and the fact that they get to interact with Jets fans in such a relaxed atmosphere.

Not to be overlooked, Rex Ryan was there with the entire coaching staff. It was fun to see people start to recognize him and the other coaches. At one point an impromptu line formed in the middle of the room for people waiting for Ryan's signature.

All the money raised from this event, which was in partnership with the A&P, is going to food banks in the tri-state area - a great cause in the current economy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Taste of the NFL Tonight in NYC

I am fasting today in anticipation of tonight's Taste of the NFL with the Jets at Cipriani's on Wall Street. I will try to give a full review of the gourmet skills of all the players involved. Anybody can make a tackle, but a good filet that takes talent.

In the meantime, I'm not sure if there are tickets left or not, but if you want to check here is some contact information: or call 973-549-4654.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cowboys Bubble Collapses

I spoke to a few players over the weekend after the terrifying news about the collapse of the Dallas Cowboys' practice bubble. They, like everyone who has heard the news and seen the pictures, have been shaken by this.

Prior to their move to Florham Park the Jets had something at Hofstra very similar to what the Cowboys had. The Jets now have an indoor field house that is within the structure of their new complex. The Giants still have a bubble.

Both the Jets and Giants have had their share of problems with these. The Giants' has collapsed more than once I believe, and the Jets bubble deflated a couple of years ago, fortunately when no one was in it. However, one player shared with me that it destroyed the stationery bikes that the team kept in it. That was just from a deflation, not from a storm-driven collapse.

A frightening situation that may cause teams to have to rethink these structures and how they use them.

In the meantime, send your thoughts and prayers to Cowboys assistant scout Rich Behm who was paralyzed from the waist down.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

It's All in the Technique

Check out my piece on Great site with lots of hardcore football stories and information.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mark Sanchez - Act I

Here come the rookies. Mark Sanchez & Co. took to the field for their first official practice this morning. The offense looked particularly sharp, which surprised everyone given that they had held only one meeting with the coaches. Turns out that when the offense got their playbooks to study last night, the new quarterback corralled the players into an impromptu meeting and led the group in installing everything themselves. And...that's the kind of leadership you want from your new franchise quarterback.

As for Sanchez himself, he looked both relaxed and in command. His throws were sharp and his self-confidence was apparent. There was no question he was the leader on the field. Even when facing the throng of media - and I do mean throng, there appeared to be as many members of the media as there were players on the field - he looked completely comfortable.

Ironically, this guy is still a college student. He takes his last final next week (in Argumentation and Advocacy). I asked Sanchez when the last time he studied was and he told me on the plane out here. He promised to show me his report card. Rex Ryan merrily shared that he thinks he'll get a 'D'.

The other two draft picks made nice showings as well. Shonn Greene can move. He's fast and his cuts look sharp. He may give Thomas Jones a run for his money. Slauson got lost in the shuffle a bit, but I spoke to him and he's your typical O-lineman, very smart, very nice with a good sense of humor.

As for today's Rex Ryan Show, he said that while there is a quarterback competition between Kellen Clemens and Sanchez, he definitely has an idea of who he wants and thinks it's going to turn out. But "the guy has to earn the job." He didn't tell us which guy. I think you can guess. He also stated in a complete matter-of-fact tone that Erik Ainge is the third quarterback and it would be hard for him to be a real part of the competition simply because he won't get the same amount of reps as Sanchez and Kellen Clemens. How's THAT for candid?