08/06/10 – Jets' Camp Press
Alright, most of you know I got a chance to upload photos from the New York Jets’ training camp, but what actually happened there, you ask. Well, let me tell you about the experience of a press pass, brought to you know by the Cortland State University of New York, campus.
So, it’s 4AM, I get woken up by roommate. My roommate says, so what time are you planning to wake up, and by the way, your friend dropped off his camera. So, I’m happy I Got the camera, but again, I could have enjoyed another thirty minutes of sleep. Anyways, I feel that today will be, just… an amazing day. I am media, I will be with the cream of the crop in NY, and I will be able to learn a lot from this experience. I am doing this all for fans of the FaceBook page, and the followers on twitter. I have no idea what I’ll be able to do or attend, but I’m leaving early, it’s a 45 minute ride, being picked up at 6AM. Time to go wake up, eat, hang out with some friends, and just smile and be grateful for this opportunity.
It’s 6AM, I finally get in the taxi, and I leave, I’m so pumped. Brought my iPod, because listening to music should definitely get me there faster. I decide to review my notes some more, and try to remember those new players names, because I know it’s tough. The returning I mostly know, but the new players, got to get them down.
I get there around 6:50, and no one is here. I didn’t expect anybody to be here, after all, it’s only 7AM, and I was told the media place opens at 8AM, so I can pick up my press pass, and such. I basically decide to walk around, and I go up to one of the fields, take a picture while the sun is still rising, I’m so excited! I head to the press room and see it’s silent, ‘A Quiet New York Press Room,’ oxymoron, totally worth seeing it while it was quiet. Going to be a great day, I get the opportunity to meet a man who we talk about radios and the future of AM and FM, he sets up the seven tents with the proper equipment.
It’s 7:45 and I get my press pass, so pumped. I see Rex Ryan with a group of people walk onto the field, I basically see him, and stop in amazement. I didn’t want to bother him, but I felt if I didn’t bow down to him, I would regret it. I did it, he saw it, and he laughed, and said he doesn’t deserve that yet. Anyways, I go back to the media area, I start to see players walking out onto the field, I watch as the other media just stand there, like they’re probably supposed to. Being young and ambitious, I introduce myself briefly to as many players as I can. I then, see the number 18, I want to take out my cheat sheet, but I try, and I tell him, man, I know you, I just can’t…wow, what’s your name again? He says, “Vic”, but I interrupt him, “Wow, Vic Hall, I knew that, just signed, out of UVA, Do-it-All Vic Hall.” He smiled, I told him I did my research when you signed. I told him to “Kick Ass in Practice.” (I think it rhymes, but knowing I now realize it doesn’t.) I met Vladimir Ducasse who was very humble. I also saw more players coming, so I’m shaking hands, and introducing myself. I look behind me and see the media standing there, I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to try to connect with players, and gain their trust, I got to introduce myself before hand. I see Steve Weatherford, and I talk to him about his recent surgery and his procedure, because I know a bit about heart problems and surgery. It’s nice to see the master of the fake punt. I see Nick, and introduce myself. I see so many players in the next few seconds, I forget some easy ones like McKnight and Pool. I feel so bad when I don’t know a player’s name. I also decide to walk a little bit when I see Bart Scott. But, in between me, is David Harris, who is looking forward, and they’re both talking, as I try to join the conversation, but Bart is really cool, and David shakes my hand, that was so awesome. I’m still looking for David Clowney, who I realize actually never showed up for practice. He definitely heard the word from the bird that I was coming, so he decided not to come, it would have been the third time we met. I go back, and I look for other players. I see Drew Coleman, who recognizes my face, it seems, and we talk, I tell him I’m just following him, because we met at Abram Elam’s Charity event also. So, basically I get to introduce myself to around 60 players, maybe more. I don’t know, it was just an influx of joy. No other reporter there did that, so maybe I wasn’t supposed to, but they didn’t say stop. So I continued, shaking hands, and saying, “Kick Ass in Practice!” I see defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, and he’s very nice. I say “Hey Mr. Pettine”, but he replies, “Hey Max, how are you doing? Nice to see you here.” I smile, but he brings me in close, puts his arm around my shoulder, and introduces me to who he is walking with, Dennis Thurman and Mark Carrier, an honor. He then, mentions my site, and how I interviewed him, and how he really likes my site. Anyways, practice is starting soon, so I wait by the entrance, no idea what to do, where I can go, and that gets interesting.
So, as it turns out, I’m behind the end-zone for practice with my tape recorder taking notes, but notes of practice would almost be pointless to share, because we really don’t know what they’re practicing, they could be trying to get that play down, since last year it would never work, and it’s starting to work, but not showing signs. Anyways, so, I decide to go to the middle of the two fields. I see trainers, and scouts, but not people with media, oh well. I see Hard Knocks so it’s all good, start recording notes about practice.
I introduce myself to Mike Pettine, Sr. At first, I really did not know who it was, but I see him and introduce myself. I tell him about how I interviewed his son, and he mentions that he heard the interview. Totally awesome to know that other people are hearing it. He tells me, “I was goign to leave earlier for practice one day, but then, I saw this interview, and I listened to it for thirty minutes. I didn’t know a student was behind it.” I thank him. I talk to him about high school football, since he is one of the best coaches of high school football EVER in Pennsylvania. He tells me that, it’s all about the Offensive linemen, and how he believes a “mediocre back could look excellent in front of great linemen.” I thank him for talking, then I see the Jets move around, do different drills, I’m watching the Tight Ends, Fullback drills, pretty interesting. I don’t know what to make of it, but then security is behind me, and says, “You do know media is only allowed on sidelines.” I say, “Sorry. I didn’t.” He escorts me to the sideline, fun stuff.
Standing five feet in front of the fans, I feel like a total asshole, blocking their views, and we’re not supposed to sit, because it’d be hard to move if something happened. When I hear that, I was thinking, “Oh, then you wouldn’t mind if I strap on pads and jumped in though, right? Not funny.” So, I introduce myself to people on the sidelines, and ask them who they represent, ESPN is there. I also ask them where they went to school, it’s a mix of three different places. I then, walk down the sideline, look what’s going on, take some pictures.
As I get back to the other end, I introduce myself to Eric Allen. For those of you that don’t know who that is, he manages live chats on the Jets website with coaches, staffs, players, he interviews them on FaceBook and he really gives fans an ultimate experience. I talk to him for a while about how he started his career, and what he majored in, and he went to the University of Florida. I told him my sister is there. I told him, don’t forget about me from Jets chats, and such, I’ll be there. I also talk to him about why the Jets are an open organization and willing to connect to their fans. He says, “We wanted the fans to feel a sense of ownership with our team, because happy fans give us happy results.” It was a great talk, he was very nice. We talked about how I got here, and he was impressed.
So, after practice, there is an interview session with the players, it’s supposed to last 45 minutes, and then Rex Ryan’s press conference at 11:45. But, this one lasted a bit longer, because Bart Scott gave signatures to fans for 45 minutes, classy way to avoid the press, and yet, we still got to talk. But, the player’s interview session was interesting, you see all the radio stations going at once, and then, you get to see, the players walk down the middle, if they’re willing to do interviews, and yet, if they are walk towards the sides, they will talk to the media. I see Kris Jenkins again, and he’s just huge. I talk to him, and I talk to other players.
The list of players (in order) are: Kris Jenkins, John Conner, Dustin Keller, Vic Hall, Robert Turner, Brad Smith, Jerricho Cotchery, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Vernon Gholston, Bart Scott, and Jamaal Westerman. I asked each of them, three questions. I decided to pair the answers up in order of questions instead of going player by player, so you can really compare the answers of each if you want to. For the record, quotes in their reply, are me talking.
If you could describe yourself as any ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?
Kris Jenkins : Uh, I don’t know you got to ask my wife that question. Seriously, you got to ask my wife that question. “You don’t know?” You got to ask my wife that. “Cookie Flavor?” I’m just me, Kris Jenkins, I’m Kris. I like being in the skin I’m in, I don’t like being any food.
John Conner : (Laughs) Hey, you got me with that one. “Cookie Flavor?” I’d probably say Chocolate Chip Cookie. “Why?” I’m just regular, nothing too flashy about me, just go out there and play physical and hard.
Dustin Keller : Oooh, I think I would be one of those suicide mixes, where you get a scoop of everything because I feel I bring a whole different bunch of flavors, bunch of different things to the table.
Vic Hall : Um, that’s a tough question, and interesting, I never really thought about that before. Neapolitan Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, because I feel I could come onto the field and do more than one thing. I can play special teams, wide receiver, and I also play defense.
Robert Turner : Uh, Ice cream flavor, “Yeah.“ That’s a rough one. I’m from Texas, I’d have to say Bluebell Homemade Vanilla, and that’s because I’m just a down-old country guy, that’s the way I like to be.
Brad Smith : Butter pecan, with some kind of French Vanilla. It’s silky smooth, and has a little crunch to it, because it means, I might hit you a little bit.
Jerricho Cotchery : Uh, man, that’s a good one. Let’s say, that’s tough man, “Talked to Jenkins about a cookie flavor.” (laughs) let’s just say, yeah, it’ll be a cookie flavor. It looks simple, looks plain, but once you get a taste of it, you know there is something about it.
D’Brickashaw Ferguson : Umm, chocolate, you know what I’m saying, it has a distinct taste, and it’s just good. Looks good. Tastes good.
Vernon Gholston : Flavor, chocolate chip cookie dough, got a couple reasons. Cookie dough is nice, soft, hard chips. Ice cream tops it off.
Jamaal Westerman : What’s the one with all the flavors? The mixture. You mix everything together that’s me. The guy who’s got it all. Whatever you need, I’ll try and do it.
Bart Scott : Common man (laughs), “You definitely know the answer to this, you definitely have a favorite ice cream flavor.” I really don’t. I’m more of a freeze pop type of guy. “Alright, what flavor?” Red, “Why?” Let me ask you a question, what ice cream flavor would you be? (Cut Out) That’s just more personal then.
What’s been your favorite memory throughout your career?
Kris Jenkins : My favorite memory so far was going to the Super Bowl in Carolina, and this time, I’d just like to dig in, and be able to win it. That’s the one thing that makes all this experience worth while.
John Conner : Probably beating the number one team. LSU. We beat in overtime. It was a great feeling.
Dustin Keller : Catching the touchdown against San Diego in the playoffs, to go to the AFC Championship. Mark made a great throw and that’s what gave us the lead in the game.
Vic Hall : I guess my favorite memory would have to be my Virginia Tech game. I had been on defense for the previous three years. That last game, I was able to play offense, and just, being back on the other side of the ball, I felt like it was a natural position for me. So, it felt great.
Robert Turner : I would have to say last year, we had fun, it was Rex’s first year as head coach, he put together a great staff, great special team coordinators, offensive coordinators, defensive guys. And, we came just a little bit short, but that’s the first time I’ve seen in my professional career, that level of play, in the AFC Championship game. Up to this point, that would be my most memorable.
Brad Smith : My son being born on July 11th.
Jerricho Cotchery : Well, making to the AFC Championship game last year was special, being able to go through what we went through during the season, it was just a special time, so hopefully we can make that next step and get the Super Bowl.
D’Brickashaw Ferguson : I think the AFC Championship game was pretty huge so far. Having the opportunity to go out there and be minutes away from the Super Bowl, that was an opportunity.
Jamaal Westerman : Favorite memory so far, besides our playoff run last year, was my first sack in the first game last year, that was probably my favorite memory. But, that’s an early memory man, you can’t think back now, hopefully next year, I make a lot more memories that I remember for the rest of my life.
What’s the best advice you can give someone who wants to make it in the NFL?
Kris Jenkins : You got to be prepared to work harder than you ever have before. The game is more mental then most people realize. It’s not just physical. And, the preparation is just as hard, if not harder then actually playing.
John Conner : Just come in, play fast, and play physical and somebody will find you, someone will keep you on their squad, and do your best to play hard.
Dustin Keller : If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. You just got to give everything you got, so you can look back and have no regrets. So, you go out and do your best in everything, because if you don’t do your best in everything, it’s not even worth doing.
Vic Hall : Work hard, know where you’re supposed to be, be there, and do what you’re supposed to do, when you’re supposed to. That’s the biggest thing.
Robert Turner : Work hard, don’t let stuff deter you. If somebody says you’re too small, too slow, too fat, whatever, too short, don’t let things deter you. Find a way to persevere because there’s always going to be somebody better suited for a job or should get the job. But, a lot of hard work will get you where you need to go, and that’s with anything in life.
Brad Smith : Hard work, but of course a lot of people say that, but you have to put in the work, the extra time to separate yourself from everybody else that’s trying to get here. And, if you don’t do that, you don’t have a chance.
Jerricho Cotchery : Stay focused on your goal. If you have that talent there, you have to work, to get the most of your talent. Every day should be a step towards making it in the NFL, and if you have a short term goals, with the ultimate goal of making it to the NFL, you got to make a step everyday, whether it’s getting faster, stronger, or being better at your position, make a step towards it.
D’Brickashaw Ferguson : Don’t worry so much about being in the NFL player, worry about being the best player at your level, and allow that to happen.
Vernon Gholston : It’s all about the hard work, what you put into it is what you get out of it, and it’s one of things that you got to be committed to succeed.
Jamaal Westerman : Work hard, prepare, preparation, believe in yourself and to give it your all.
Bart Scott : To work hard, be consistent, to become the best everyday, someone’s watching you.
I really hope you enjoyed all those answers. I also had an opportunity to ask some of the players more personal questions directed towards them. Here are the questions with their answers.
For John Conner : What’s it like to be with the Jets and be able to have the opportunity to learn from an All-Pro and proven leader and veteran, Tony Richardson?
John Conner : It’s been an honor to play with him. He’s been in the league for sixteen years. He has great knowledge of the game. So, that’s a great situation for me to come into.
For Vic Hall : What do you see role with the Jets this year?
Vic Hall : Right now for the Jets, I think my role is Special Teams, and helping in anyway that I can.
For Jerricho Cotchery : Since I know this is very important to you, what’s the Cotchery Foundation?
Jerricho Cotchery : The Cotchery Foundation benefits the underprivileged youth, so, we think with a mindset, we set goals with a mindset in I’m not limited in what I can be in life. And, that’s how we roll with it. I grew up in an underprivileged situation, so I know how much the kids need for us for guidance, so that’s what I’m all about. Kids being able to succeed in life.
For D’Brickashaw Ferguson : I wear 60 because of you, why do you?
D’Brickashaw Ferguson : I wore it in high school. Yep. “Was it just given to you?” It was my first time I had an opportunity to choose.
For Vernon Gholston : So, what’s your take on switching to defensive end?
Vernon Gholston : Anytime you switch your position, let me say, I’m happy it’s defensive end, something I’m used to. I have crowns in it back at Ohio State.
Alright, so hopefully you enjoyed all of their answers. I hope you all got a feel of how they replied to the answers. It was really cool to get these players to answer them. Now, I’m on my way to the Rex Ryan press conference, it was a good twenty minutes, and after watching his conferences on the Jets’ website, it’s great to see his real passion, right in front of me instead of hearing it, and watching it. Before the conference started, I had the opportunity to see Rex waiting for the media and cracking jokes at “us” as we walked in.
The first question I asked Rex Ryan was, Of the players who are returning, who has been the biggest surprise?
After hearing this, I know this was big news for Mike DeVito, and after all this got on some other sites and NBC Sports took it as Mike DeVito having the starting job, very cool. My second question was basically a question I talked to him about the third inside linebacker position on the depth chart. He has been giving plenty of praise to Kenwin Cummings, but has brought in rookies to challenge that spot. So, I asked, What role do you see Kenwin Cummings have during the season?
So, those were the two questions I asked Rex Ryan. Well worth it, and definitely a pleasure listening to him. After this they had league referees come in and talk about the new rule changes. I stayed, didn’t ask any questions, but here is the uncut version, just in case. It was really interesting. After all, this is how every outlet learns about the rule changes and brings them up all the time during preseason. Barry Anderson is the ref in front of the podium, so here is the recording. Enjoy.
So, now that this is over. I’m off to go back to the press room, and observe what is going on, and eat lunch. I get there, and I see media having their laptops out. I wonder if I should have brought mine. Maybe next year, if I go? Anyways, I get some chicken salad sandwiches, since that is what they serve the press, but they’re out of water… Oh well. Anyways, I look around and I see some faces, so I start talking, and introducing myself. Very cool. I introduce myself to a familiar face, but not a familiar name. Steve Overmyer, @SteveOvermyer, he hosts a show called Jets Huddle on Verizon, but I know him for his show called First and Goal with Mike Tannenbaum, back in the day. We talk about what’s it like to be part of the media? He’s very nice. We talk for a bit, then I let him go back to work. Anyways, I am starting to get bored, so I try to listen to some music, and then I decide, why not just go down to the field and absorb it, just take it all in, what I just did. So I do that.
After a while, players are on their way out to practice, I’m smiling, and I go to the sidelines during practice. After practice was over, there is no media session, so basically, I have some notes from practice, but the statistics don’t mean anything in training camp. I talk to some fans during practice, and also talk to some more media members on the sidelines. We’ll see what happens. The practice ends and I basically made it my goal to take a bunch of pictures during the afternoon practice to share with you all, rather than taking notes about performance. A highlight of this practice though was ended up talking and learning about reactions of players. I got some nice photos. After practice, I go back to the Press Room, talk to some more media members, and grab another thing to eat.
I say a final goodbye to Cortland. I’m gone. Thanks for the opportunity. I hope you enjoy the story.