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2012 NFL Draft: The Season Begins Here

The NFL Draft means something to everyone, in their own way.

For the teams, it is a chance to obtain those missing pieces of a puzzle that was the Super Bowl last season.  Others looking for fresh, young blood to rejuvenate a team to push its way back into contention.  But to everyone involved in football, it is four days that could change the course of a teams season.
To the fans, everyone takes it differently.  To the casual football fan, it is a couple of days where teams pick college players in order to fill positions on their team.  To the frenzied fan of a team, the opportunity to retool and find some fresh faces to add to the veterans who can get the job done.  But to the die hard fan of the draft, it is a lot more.

The die hard fan plays out the draft the same way Robert Byrne and Bobby Fischer play a chess match.  All the players are lined up by position.  Moves thought out carefully.  Reacting to your opponent.  Thinking ahead to gain an advantage.  Studding statistics.  Know the advantage before a move is made.  The die hard fan knows these moves.

But to everyone, it is a look into what could be the future of a franchise or someone looking to keep their dream alive.

The draft is a magical time.  A time where any fan can see a potential hall of famer be named to their team of destiny.  A moment in time where a fan stops to imagine hearing their own name announced as a draft selection.  Draft day brings us one step closer to seeing how these new gladiators of the gridiron match up to their veteran counterparts.

Maybe its fitting the draft takes place in New York. A city where people come to from all over the globe to capture their dream. They come to see where their future lies. A city that has delivered to so many can now deliver to them.

Football fans will converge at Radio City Music Hall for four days to not just see who gets drafted, but to immerse themselves in the NFL experience.  Fan events, player interaction, and bickering between other fans makes this a precursor of a season to come.  Groundwork to be laid as to whose fans will have bragging rights next year.

You can ask any fan how they feel about the draft.  Everyone will mention at least one great signing and complain about 99 others.  Those are fans, that is what they do.  Fans are the best market research to let a sports franchise know how it is doing.  You can hear them loud and clear after each and every draft selection.  The teams conscience.

Every fan has some part of the NFL calendar they look forward to.  Some wait all year for the draft.  Why?  It is the official day where collegiate athletes become professional football players.  The NCAA to the NFL.  A transition.  The new breed that pushes the progression of football just one more notch on the game’s time-line.

The start of the 2012 season begins on Thursday.  The first major event on the NFL calendar for the new season.  Every franchise waiting, patient for their turn to select that next great player to represent their franchise.  The new face of the team marketing machine that entices fans like a circus ringleader.  To get you to cheer for the greatest game on earth.

And we do.

Not just because of that.  It’s the memories.  Being able to share that experience with others to smile and laugh about later.  Giving that next generation the lesson needed to stay educated on how the NFL draft works.  The Draft has become an event onto itself.  The Draft at Radio City is like the Allman Brothers coming to the Beacon Theater.  You know it is coming every year.  Planning ahead to make the necessary arrangements.

This is a big week for those players looking to be selected by the professional team of their choice.  Some fans looking to see if they predicted the same selection as their favorite team.  The anticipation could be a little more than some can bear.  But with fans from every team in attendance this week, it will be a week those players looking for a new home will not forget.  If the teams make a bad move, the fans will never let them forget.  So, are you ready?

Why Is New Jersey Ignored By Its Own Professional Football Teams?

Long ago, the Jets and Giants once played in New York.  Not anymore.

They play in New Jersey. Their training facilities are in New Jersey.  Their offices are also located in New Jersey.

If the Jets or Giants don’t want to acknowledge New Jersey in their names, then they should combine their efforts once again and move back to the Big Apple. The West Side Stadium project was a bust so the Jets had no choice but to partner with the Giants.  There is no team that plays in one state with the name of another in front of their name.

After the Giants won Super Bowl XLII, co-owner Steve Tisch proclaimed, “We play for the City of New York.”  Needless to say, that did not go over well with many people in New Jersey.  The past two seasons the Jets made the playoffs.  They held post season rallies in New York both years.  Why not hold those in New Jersey at the stadium they play in?

When the Giants won the Super Bowl, the parade is in New York City.  The Philadelphia Phillies didn’t have a parade in Trenton where many Philly fans reside.

Both the Jets and Giants play in New Jersey, a good percentage of their players live in New Jersey and many of their fans come from New Jersey.

They get subsidies and benefits from New Jersey.  The money made at MetLife Stadium benefits New Jersey, not New York.  The players have events and functions in New York more often than n New Jersey.

The Giants have have called New Jersey home for 36 years. The Jets, who don’t even have their own stadium, have been in New Jersey since 1984.  New Jersey is the second wealthiest state in the country.

Some of the most affluent people in the United States live here.  You don’t really think those millionaire athletes from New York, or Philadelphia live in those places, do you?  Maybe if you play for the Yankees, Mets, or Knicks.

I realize most people in the country don’t care. I don’t blame you, but you are not looked upon as New York’s little brother. Additionally, in obscurity and the misrepresentation that shows like “Jersey Shore”, “Real Housewives of New Jersey”, and “Jerseylicious” cast on us.

For someone who has lived in New Jersey all their life, I would like the state to be looked on favorably as two top NFL teams make their home here even though their name doesn’t show it.

The Giants have a rich tradition and history. The Jets, not so much.

New Jersey gave both teams the best deal, the best tax breaks and the worst possible method of getting to a stadium imaginable. At least along with the new stadium, and $15,000 PSL, they built a train station.

In 2012, the New Jersey Nets are moving to Brooklyn. Something tells me they will not keep the New Jersey Nets name.  When the Devils came to New Jersey in the early 80’s, they did not keep the Colorado Avalanche name.

Look back at any sport and every professional sports team.  There has never been a team that kept their original place of origin as their name.  Even the Oakland Raiders changed to the Los Angeles Raiders when they moved.  They did not become the California Raiders just because they remained in the same state.

Lastly, the Statue of Liberty? It’s in New Jersey, not New York.

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.

Bing.com: Making Great Travel Decisions With Dhani Jones

Last Wednesday, I made the trip into New York City to attend an event sponsored by Bing.com.  Bing had as their special guest Cincinnati Bengals Linebacker Dhani Jones.  Dhani has pretty much seen it all when it comes to travel, and he has partnered with Bing Travel to provide his tips, recommendations and personal stories on traveling the world.  Go to www.bing.com/travel for video interviews and personal photo slideshows from Dhani’s travel, as well as more recommendations and his “Wish List” for future destinations.

Dhani Jones – NFL superstar, author of “The Sportsman: Unexpected Lessons from an Around-the-World Sports Odyssey” and former host of the Travel Channel’s “Dhani Tackles the Globe” – is not your average linebacker. Sure, he stands 6 foot 1 and weighs 235 pounds, but when he’s not on the field with the Cincinnati Bengals he is folding himself into an airplane seat and flying to wherever his abundance of curiosity takes him. Dhani began traveling at an early age with his parents; his father was in the military based in Southeast Asia, and they took family trips to Kenya, Thailand and Bermuda, among other places. It instilled a sense of wanderlust in Dhani that continues today.

Bing’s purpose was to let people know they could use Bing to find anything they needed when it comes to travel.  From choosing a destination to securing a hotel.  When it comes to travel, Bing will provide you information you need to answer any question to make your next vacation or day trip the most enjoyable.

NFL Fans Ache From Their Favorite Teams

I normally write about the New York Jets and their fans.  The decisions the Jets organization makes and how it affects their season ticket holders.  The way fans prepare for home games and how they celebrate on the black top.  But now all football fans stand together.  Banded by our desire to watch the sport we love to only be shut out by a dispute between the players and their employers.

What you’re about to read focuses on give and take. So often is the case when professional sports franchises and money are involved, the customer winds up on the losing end.

The National Football League might not give its fans a single game this year. That hasn’t stopped almost all of its owners from taking money from their most loyal supporters.  We all remember what happened in 1987.  The owners still made money then in a makeshift season while fans suffered the first few games.

As if we needed another example of gang greed there’s this knee slapper: All but one of the NFL’s 32 teams is requiring season-ticket holders to submit deposits for next season, even though there might not be a season.

Only the New York Giants, the team of the late Wellington Mara, who long ago sacrificed for the good of the game and the welfare of the league, seems to understand that pay-for-play is the only plan that makes sense at this moment.

The late Leon Hess, former owner of the New York Jets, also had the same feelings.  He sent a letter to all season ticket holders saying he would not raise ticket prices until his team turned itself around on the field.

The Giants soon will send a letter to their 21,000 season ticket accounts, almost all of which have multiple ticket holders, saying that the team doesn’t think it’s right to take deposits while owners and players are firing insults over Twitter on how to share $9 billion in annual revenue.  The Giants are making themselves stand out from the other teams by showing a heart.

“Our season-ticket holders have made a significant financial commitment to our organization over the course of the last couple of years,” said Pat Hanlon, a spokesman for the Giants, who, along with the Jets, share the $1.6 billion New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey. “We just felt, given the circumstances, that it was the right thing to do and the fair thing to do.”

Doing Right

What we have here is something rarer than a Jets Super Bowl parade. We have a professional sports team showing more than a single shred  of concern for the customer, not only saying the right thing but doing it.  There is rarely seen in professional sports.  Something more team owners need to show to their season ticket holders.

Hanlon, a good company man, did his best to portray the other clubs kindly by saying what’s best for the Giants isn’t necessarily what other teams should do.  But it still shines a bad light on the others if only one team does the right thing by its fans.

“Each team has to operate within its own personality and its own way of handling its business,” he said.

Unfortunately, most professional sports teams have a default personality of greed. There’s no excuse for taking the deposit. Not that the NFL didn’t try to invent one, of course.

League spokesman Brian McCarthy said clubs believed there could be “operational issues” to not having season tickets renewed. You know, like getting commitments and processing payments in a short time after a settlement.  But with the layoffs it shows they really did not need those payments to keep their operations afloat.

Refund Policy

The Giants, according to Hanlon, have no such worries.  No Giants season ticket holder has never wanted their season tickets.

“The process we’ve established has addressed those concerns,” he said. So let’s get this straight: The Giants can solve the problem but the other teams can’t. Right.  Is this a case of greed or precaution?

It gets worse.

The NFL in November, anticipating a possible labor mess, disclosed its refund policy in the event of a lockout. The league mandate states that teams must issue full refunds no later than 30 days after final determination of how many games will be played during the 2011 season.

The league, however, allowed teams to set their own policies on whether ticket buyers should receive accrued interest on their deposits.  Which makes sense.  If the teams hold onto your money and make interest on it, the season ticket holder should be owed that accrued interest.

Let’s use the New England Patriots as an example. The Patriots in recent weeks sent three letters to their season ticket holders. The first was from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who outlined management’s side of the labor stalemate. The second came from Patriots owner Bob Kraft and his son, Jonathan, the club president, echoing much of the commissioner’s message.

Interest Due

And then the season-ticket renewal package arrived, requiring full payment by March 31. New England’s refund will include interest calculated at an annual rate of 1 percent. A check of bankrate.com shows that certain Banks offer a 1.08 percent return on a six-month certificate of deposit. It’s absurd that a team, like the Chicago Bears, which won’t give fans interest on their deposits, could make even a penny. It’s not about the money, which to someone with enough disposable income to buy tickets is negligible. It’s the principle.

The New York Jets are asking for 50% due by April 1st.  With PSL money still due later this year, the Jets still feel they need to hold onto the money rather than be on the same side as the Giants.  In the battle between the New York football clubs from the corporate offices, the Giants won this round.

It’s no surprise that the Giants are the only team making such a gesture to its fans. The team’s chief executive officer is John Mara, the oldest of his father’s 11 children. It was Wellington Mara who championed revenue sharing, even though it meant less for his team.  It shows in the fact the Giants used to have a 50 Years Club for season ticket holders who had season tickets for 50 plus years.  They cared about their long standing fans and still do, in a way.

Right and fair. Two important words. Just like give and take.