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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.

Thomas Jones Released by NY Jets

New York Jet running back Thomas Jones was released by the organization Monday, multiple outlets report.

As the free agency period gets ready to begin on Friday, Mike Tannenbaum, general manager for the Jets, said that he informed Jones of the team’s decision and the reasons for it.

“Thomas joined us three years ago and has been a productive, passionate leader both on and off the field who has served as a positive influence for our younger players,” Tannenbaum remarked on NJ.com. “We were fortunate to acquire Thomas and wish him the best.”

This upcoming season, Thomas was to make $2.8 million, and additionally, was owed a roaster bonus of $3 million.  After failed attempts to come to terms on a new deal in which the organization wanted to pay less money, Thomas’ tenure with the Jets has come to a close.  Other teams like Cleveland or Minnesota would be willing to pay Jones his salary.

Jones tried to negotiate a new deal last off-season as well, as the running back made only $900,000 in base salary for the 2009-10 season.  He rushed for a career-high 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Jets.  New York led the entire league in rush-yards per game.  He was a cornerstone piece which spearheaded the Jets all the way to the AFC Championship game.  A cornerstone piece that will be very hard to replace.

The news of Jones release does not sit well with his teammates.  Two separate occasions, he was elected as the “team’s most inspirational player” ESPN.com reports.

“When I got here, Thomas immediately became one of my guys,” Jet head coach Ryan remarked of Jones. “He had one of his best years last season, might have been his best. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a player and a person. This is one of the tough decisions we had to make for our organization.”

With the break-up of the two parties, the Jets will rely on Shonn Greene, who was a rookie last year out of Iowa.  Greene saw significant playing time towards the end of the season and on into the playoffs.  But will he be able to pick up where Thomas Jones left off?

While at 32, Jones has continued to produce since being acquired from the Chicago Bears.  Two seasons ago, Jones led the AFC in rushing, and this past season he finished third.  At his age, many feel that at his position of running back players begin to break down.  This is a stereotype that Jones wants no part of.

“Whoever came up with that rule obviously didn’t play running back in this league, didn’t prepare like I prepare, didn’t watch film like I watch film, didn’t take care of their body like I take care of my body,” Jones remarked during last season. “Physically, I feel like a rookie” he told ESPN.com.

Jones is renowned for his workout routine and work ethic, keeping himself in the best shape that he can.  Until his fifth season in the league, Jones never had more than 140 carries.  To put that in perspective, he had over 330 this season.

Not Your Father’s Jets

The past few days I have been thinking about the Jets season, as improbable as it may have been to some.  I have been thinking about Mark Sanchez as a rookie QB leading the team.  Darelle Revis coming into his own as CB, being the shadow of many great Wide Receivers and shutting them down.  Three great running backs in Thomas Jones, Shonn Greene, and Leon Washington when healthy.  All three of these guys are capable of 100 yard games when they step out onto the field.  Nick Mangold and the offensive line have given Sanchez time to throw and opened holes for the running game.  The Defense, ranked Number One in the NFL, has been a stand out all year thanks to Rex Ryan.  Braylon Edwards is due for a breakout year.  The Jets have the right pieces and the puzzle finally came together at the end of the season.  I am only 35 and I saw a different Jets team than I ever have.  This is no longer my father’s Jets.  They are no longer the team that plays second fiddle to the Giants in the New York market.  The Jets have finally got their due and respect.

I have sat in the stand and even at home listened to my father say “same old Jets” everytime a game or play would not go their way.  When the Jets would fall behind or not even make the playoffs every Jets fan was used to that.  For so long we put up with losing seasons, injured players, bad coaching, etc.  Yes, bad coaching.  From Bruce Coslet, Joe Walton, Rich Kotite, Lou Holtz, former USC and now Seahawks’ Pete Carroll, Mangini, Charley Winner, and hell, even Lou Holtz!  Bill Parcells, Al Groh, and Rex Ryan are the only coaches in New York Jets and Titans history with winning records.  Even the great Weeb Ewbank had a 71-77-6 records while coaching the Jets.  Rex Ryan has given new life to a team that had to escape its own stigma of losing.

Woody Johnson has spent enough money on this team, including the $12 million on Brett Favre, to create a team worth watching.  It took years to find a QB that was right at the helm.  It took time to get a balanced receiving core & land a potential star in Edwards.  Even Dustin Keller hs shown the Jets can have an outstanding Tight End.  The pieces are coming together and the Jets just need to complete the puzzle.  The draft has been key the pst few years as the young guys are the ones making the team better than it has been.  For the first time I look at the Jets and see a team that doe not resemble the teams I saw when I was growing up.  The teams in 1998 and 1982 that made the AFC Championship though gave the Jets fans hope that their team would not just been seen differently, but play differently from now on.  They didn’t after those seasons.  I think this might be the first year the team we saw play the Colts will be the same team that starts the 2010 season.

I guess what I am trying to say is I am finally looking forward to a Jets season where we all know they can win and have a true shot at making the Super Bowl.  This past year though has been tough because of the documentary.  As a Jets fan I was hoping they would beat the Colts.  My heart was pojnding during the game hoping they would maintain the lead and win the game.  Asa filmmaker, I was looking for the Jets to sputter and show Jets fans they were the same old JEts.  Even though they lost the game they are not the same old Jets and proved me wrong.  I can not wai to see what the Jets do in the off season and hope Kerry Rhodes is ready for the 2010 season.  I think everyone is finally proud to be a Jets fan.  I know my father is happy, smiling, and watching everything from the best seat in the house.  Maybe screaming at the TV in heaven when Sanchez throws an interception.  That is my dad.