Instant All-Stars

By Jason Klein

As Seen in Guestbook NY  – 2013

Click each individual thumbnail below to read the feature story, exactly as it appeared in the 2013 issue of Guestbook NY.

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Not Easy Being Green on Super Sunday

By Jason Klein

As Seen in In New York Magazine  – 2/3/12

Wait, there’s a game this Sunday?  Who knew?

OK, I admit it; I’ll watch the Super Bowl.

I don’t want to, but I will.

Let me explain.  This native New Yorker has the fanatical misfortune of rooting for the wrong team in town.  As a Jets fan, I admit that my allegiance is misguided.  I’ve accepted my role as a second-class citizen within New York’s football fandom.

Over the years, I’ve watched Jets teams lose games, seasons, and their minds in ways that would make the Bad News Bears blush.  I’ve witnessed Super Bowl dreams, seemingly within reach, decimated by injury, ignorance, and ineptitude.  This franchise is a bigger tease than a Kardashian.

A Giants/Patriots Super Bowl Will Be Tough for Jets Fans

Kermit the Frog had it right: It’s not easy being green.

Despite my eternal pessimism, I continue to passionately support them and hold out hope that one day, my Super dream of a championship might be a reality.

Until then, I’ll watch other teams compete for a Lombardi Trophy each February.  On Sunday, I have the distinct displeasure of watching New York’s more successful team, the Giants, battle the Jets’ biggest rival, the New England Patriots, for a Super Bowl Title.

It’s like being forced to watch your school’s bully and most popular kid fight to the death over the girl you have been chasing your whole life.

Yeah, I’m bitter.

I don’t dislike either team.  I really don’t.  I respect what the Giants and Patriots have accomplished this season, and in previous campaigns.  Yet, the perennial dysfunction that seems to infect Jets seasons past and present leaves me green with envy over the successes of my team’s two biggest rivals.

Even Jets Pro Bowl Center, Nick Mangold admits, “No matter who wins the game, it’s going to be a bad outcome for us as players and for the fans.”

It’s my obligation as a football fan to watch the Super Bowl.  I get it.  I’ll be more interested in the wings and beer than the game itself, but yes, I’ll watch it.

The cathartic viewing will tweak my pigskin inferiority complex, but ultimately build character.  When it’s over, I’ll emotionally hit the reset button, and await a new beginning in 2012.

There’s always next season.  The optimistic cliché represents all that is great about sports.  Especially in the NFL, a league predicated on parody.

Before that new beginning, there must be an end.

Apparently, the Giants and Patriots will do the honors on Sunday.

At least that’s the rumor.

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Peyton’s Not the Right Manning For New York

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For JetsTwit.com – 2/1/12

New York is only big enough for one Manning.

Baby brother, Eli, has already claimed Gotham as his own while playing for the Giants.  The Jets would be smart to avoid the temptation of signing his older brother, future Hall of Famer, Peyton.

I know, Peyton is a once-in-a-generation type of player, a Super Bowlchampion, and a 4-time league MVP.  He’s perhaps the greatest quarterback any of us will ever see.  It would be an absolute privilege watching him represent the city of New York on the field each week.

The Jets Would Be Wise to Pass on Peyton.

But…the Jets should not sign him.

This Sunday, Eli will lead his Giants in Super Bowl XLVI – his second trip to the big game as Big Blue’s general.  Meanwhile, after a disappointing 8-8 season, Rex Ryan’s Gang is Green with envy over the Giants’ success.  With a locker room in turmoil, and one Giant inferiority complex, Jets owner Woody Johnson might be eager to make a splash this offseason by signing Peyton.

Don’t do it, Woody.

It’s a mistake that could set the franchise back for years.  There is no guarantee the bold move would help the Jets take over anything more than the back pages of the local tabloids.  It would be a circus act reminiscent of Brett Favre’s failed attempt to sell PSLs in 2008.

Let’s be honest, Peyton Manning is 36 years-old and recovering from multiple neck surgeries.  Even if declared healthy enough to play, there is no way to know how he would physically hold up under actual game conditions.  If he did manage to navigate through the season unharmed, at best, he has 2-3 seasons left of service in him.

By contrast, the Jets would prematurely close the book on their 26 year-old franchise quarterback – with his entire career ahead of him – Mark Sanchez.  Yes, the “Sanchize” has taken tremendous heat this offseason for his poor production in 2011.  Media members, frustrated fans, and disgruntled teammates have also been quick to jump off his bandwagon.

Be fair though, he just completed only his third year in the league.  That’s it.  Just three seasons!  In that time, the Jets have won an impressive 28 games and played in back-to-back AFC Championship Games (2009, 2010).

Not bad.

Carrying both Peyton and Sanchez is not a feasible option.  It would be both financially irresponsible and a knock at Sanchez’s bruised ego.  Having Peyton play the role of teacher sounds like a smart plan on the surface, but it’s unlikely Mark would willingly defer his starting role without any lingering animosity towards the franchise.

This week, when asked what he would do if he were running the team, Jets legendary running back, Curtis Martin, declared he would immediately snatch up Peyton.  He called him “one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game,” and as a result, would be “interested in taking that chance” despite his advanced age and questionable health.

Martin should go speak to Jim Irsay.

The Indianapolis Colts Owner told ESPN this week, “Your responsibility is to make sure you’re not making decisions on a sentimental aspect.  This isn’t fantasy football.”  The Colts are expected to cut the face of their franchise before forking over a $28M roster bonus on March 8.

But don’t expect Peyton to file for unemployment.  Despite the tremendous risk, there will be multiple teams looking to quickly scoop him up.  The Jets ownership will be very tempted to get in the mix and land a Manning of their own.

Proceed with caution.  This town’s already got a Manning, and he has a very big day ahead of him.

Even if healthy, Peyton’s best days are behind.

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Steiner Sports Did it Again in Twenty-Ten!

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 12/22/10

The 2010 Steiner Sports year moved faster than Brett Gardner beating out an infield single.

After an historic 2009 at Steiner Sports, the company had a lot to live up to in the first year of the new decade.  The previous year saw Steiner Sports move to a new facility, make available artifacts from the original Yankee Stadium, and develop a new line of exclusive product to commemorate the 27th World Series Title in Yankees history.  How would 2010 stack up in an encore performance?

New Partnerships

The New Year began with a “Giant” announcement.  In January, Steiner Sports informed collectors and sports historians of their plans to offer a new line of collectibles from the soon-to-be demolished Giants Stadium.  The 2010 NFL season would see the Jets and the Giants move into the New Meadowlands Stadium, vacating their previous home across the parking lot.  Similar to their efforts at the original Yankee Stadium, Steiner Sports offered one-of-a-kind artifacts from the old Meadowlands, including seats, seatbacks, stadium signage, sod from the field, and pieces of the goal posts from each end zone.  Both Jets and Giants fans relished the opportunity, snatching up Meadowlands memorabilia at a record pace.

Meadowlands Seats

2010 also saw the World’s Most Famous Collectible Company partner up with the World’s Most Famous Arena: Madison Square Garden.  With MSG set to undergo renovations over the next few years, Steiner Sports began offering unique pieces of the building for fans to add to their collections.  In addition to physical pieces of the building hitting the market, including pieces of the court and arena signage, game used items from the Knicks,Rangers Liberty also became available.  Fans were able to scoop up game used uniforms, basketballs, pucks, sticks, and clippings from the basketball nets and hockey goals.  These unbelievable items are all available on the Steiner Sports website and inside MSG during Knicks and Rangers home games.

The Dirt

In previous seasons, Steiner Sports had developed a line of product offering actual infield dirt from Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Wrigley Field.  In 2010, Steiner Sports got down and dirty with all 30 Major League Baseball Stadiums.  A team of Steiner Sports Product Development specialists created an entire line of memorabilia, released in April 2010, that incorporated Certified Authentic, game used field dirt from every stadium in baseball, giving fans of all teams a “field pass.”

The new line, approved and authenticated by Major League Baseball, included team logo crystals, key chains, stadium and player plaques, ceramic coasters, and 11×14 collages – all containing a capsule of field dirt.  A line of “In the Game” collages were also developed – a unique 20×24 player collage with actual stadium dirt sprinkled on the photo.

Due to favorable pricing, the MLB dirt collection was a popular choice for holiday gifts, and in corporate incentive programs around the country.

The Padded Seats

In an unprecedented move, Steiner Sports temporarily adjusted the price on a pair of padded, championship-level Yankee Stadium Seats, giving fans the opportunity to “Take a Seat in History” at an exclusive price.  The comfy blue seats had listed for $1,750 at their original release, but were discounted, for a limited time, at a price of just $999.

The response was overwhelming.  Yankees fans, and baseball historians alike, reserved their piece of history, for display within their sports rooms or office.  This rare collectible currently remains at the reduced price of $999, and will remain there through the holiday season.  All other pairs of authentic Yankee Stadium seats remain at their original retail price.

The Events

Steiner Sports Clients were treated to a wide array of athlete Meet & Greet opportunities in 2010, both within the confines of their Corporate Offices, and their retail and Last Licks locations.  Fans got up close, and personal with an impressive “who’s who” list of athletes including Eli ManningAmar’e StoudemireDavid Wells, members of the 1977/1978 Yankees,Vinny TestaverdeJoba ChamberlainDustin KellerJim LeonhardJay FeelyMagic JohnsonBrian CashmanHakeem NicksMark Teixeira, and Nick Swisher, among others.

Jets Event With Leonhard, Feely & Keller

Live Meet & Greets, and the ability for customers to interact with athletes, is a trend that is sure to continue in 2011.

More Digital Interaction

2010 saw the world become more connected through the use of popular social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter.  As they so often do, Steiner Sports led the way in the sports memorabilia industry, connecting with thousands of new fans.

Through the popular websites, Steiner Sports found a new and unique avenue to connect with customers and sports fans, publicizing upcoming events and signings, running daily contests, promoting new product, and even sparking heated and passionate sports debates.  It also gave fans a new forum to speak directly to the company, often expressing their interest in the industry or requesting information about athlete signings or products listed on SteinerSports.com.

Individual Steiner Sports Sales Representatives also joined the party, creating their own Facebook and Twitter accounts, giving their clients a new means to increase communication and interact on a more personal level. (Friend Jason on Facebook.  Follow Jason on Twitter).

Moving Forward

In the first year of the new decade, Steiner Sports proved, once again, that the future is bright for the leader in authentic, hand signed and game used collectibles.  There is no doubt that 2011 will prove to be more of the same.  In the New Year, Steiner Sports figures to further revolutionize the sports collectibles industry with new and exciting product and events, in an effort to bring fans closer to their heroes than ever thought possible.  If it’s happening on the field, it’s happening within the Steiner Sports corporate offices in New Rochelle, NY.

Just don’t blink.  It’s a fast-paced, ever-changing industry, moving quicker than number 11 in pinstripes.

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A Super Bowl in NY? Not Cool…FREEZING!

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 5/17/10

Super Bowl XLVIII or XLVIIIce Bowl?

The New York Jets and Giants are both lobbying to host the 2014 Super Bowl at the New Meadowlands, a brand new, 1.7 billion dollar facility set to open its doors in 2010.  The stadium has everything the NFL covets in a venue for their marquee event: it’s modern, has tons of luxury suites, is in a huge media market and is surrounded by a major city with unlimited entertainment opportunities.

New Meadowland Stadium

It does, however, lack one very important feature: a roof!

Topping 40 degrees on an average February day in New Jersey is a struggle, sort of like selling PSL’s to frustrated Jets and Giants fans in a poor economic climate.  Playing the most important game of the NFL season in less-than-ideal conditions would be a very real possibility should the game be played outdoors in the Northeast.

During last Wednesday’s Super Bowl “pep rally” in New Jersey, Jets Owner Woody Johnson snidely remarked: “We’ll be lucky if it snows!”

Lucky?  How so?

Snow would present some unique, and potentially dangerous challenges for those fans traveling to the game – leaving open the possibility of empty seats for the big game.  Plus, the NFL would be showcasing a compromised version of their product to the world.

While playing the Super Bowl in a cold weather city is nothing new –Minnesota and Detroit have each hosted Super Sunday under a dome – actually playing the game in those conditions without a roof would be without precedent.

Some have argued that the most legendary and memorable games in history have taken place in the cold weather.  Heck, the 1967 NFL Championship Game was nicknamed “The Ice Bowl.”  With a game-time temperature of -13 degrees and a wind-chill of -48 degrees, the Green Bay Packers hosted the Dallas Cowboys for the right to play in Super Bowl II.

True, this game was both exciting, and unforgettable, but there’s something else important to note about the contest.  It was a home gamethe Packers earned by finishing with a better record than the Cowboys.  The Packers went on to face the Raiders in the Super Bowl, played at a neutral sight, the Miami Orange Bowl – game-time temperature: 86 degrees.

Forcing two teams, who have battled all season long, to play the most important game of their lives on a neutral site, in potentially cold and dangerous weather conditions ignores the integrity of the game.  The rationale behind a neutral site has always been to provide an ideal venue to both teams, without any obstacles or advantages for either team.

With that said, if the NFL were to allow the team with the best record left standing to host the game, and that team happened to play in an outdoor, cold-weather stadium – so be it.  Luck of the draw.  As long as the Super Bowl site is a neutral one, it should be played in ideal conditions.

It’s also been suggested that the game of football is a sport tailor made for cold, snowy weather.  While there may be some truth to that, there is no need for the fans to endure such treacherous conditions.  The old Texas Stadium had it right: cover the fans and let the players play in the elements.  The Jets and Giants could have shown similar compassion for their soon-to-be wet, shivering fans when building their new home.

Instead, the New Meadowlands will open its doors this September, sans roof.  In four short years, they hope to host a Super Bowl there.  They will learn their fate following a May 25th NFL owners vote.  Both the Jets and Giants acknowledge that weather will be a factor in the decision, but it didn’t have to be this way.

Had they put a roof on their new football Mecca, this vote would be a slam dunk.  Speaking of dunks, they would also be a top candidate to host future NCAA tournaments.  Concerts, shows, speaking engagements, and conventions would also be the norm, year-round.  One would think, over time, the additional events would help generate enough added revenue to offset the cost of putting a dome on the building…right?

It’s a hypothetical question left dangling out in the cold, like the thousands of fans forced to sit in potentially snowy conditions.  When that happens, one can bet that Jets and Giants ownership will be warm and toasty, tucked away inside one of their new luxury suites, safe from the elements.

With comfy seats like that, no wonder Johnson thinks he “would be lucky if it snows.”

The average fan, trying to enjoy the game?  Not so lucky.

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Lights Out at Meadowlands Signals Opportunity to Own History

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 1/5/10

The sign outside may have read “

Giants Stadium,” but the building finally felt like home for Jets fans on Sunday night.

The Jets, perhaps, saved their best performance for last as they did battle with the Cincinnati Bengals in the final game played in Meadowlands history.  Gang Green overcame frigid temperatures, and all the odds, to defeat the Bengals 37-0 in a rout.  In the process, they clinched the 5thseed in the AFC playoffs, the franchise’s first trip to the post season since 2006.

Final Game at Meadowlands

The Jets were destined to do what their co-tenants couldn’t the week prior.  The Giants’ final Meadowlands performance left a sour taste – falling to the Panthers 41-9 in week 16.  By contrast, the Jets refused to lose, holding the playoff-bound Bengals to just 72 total yards of offense…in the whole game!

Mark Sanchez completed an up-and-down rookie season on a high note, managing the offense and feeding Thomas Jones.  Following the game, and a refreshingly frosty Gatorade bath for head coach, Rex Ryan, players did a victory lap, shaking hands with the fans and shutting out the lights at the old building in style.

It was the final great moment inside a building that provided many along the way.  Jets fans will always remember moments like the Monday Night Miracle victory over the Dolphins in 2000, the 1999 Divisional Game against Jacksonville, and the back-to-back routs of the Packers and Colts to end the 2002 regular season and start the playoffs respectively.  Giants fans will quickly forget the team’s 2009 shortcomings and focus more on the three Lombardi Trophies, hoisted after the 1986, 1990 and 2007 seasons.

Whatever your allegiance, there is tons of history oozing from within the Meadowlands walls.  A new partnership joining Steiner Sports with the Meadowlands allows fans and football historians alike to own pieces of that nostalgia.

Interested in owning a pair of seats from within Giants Stadium?  Steiner Sports new partnership makes that possible.  Fans will have access to seats, seatbacks, pieces of the turfgoal posts, and various other items from within the building.  It’s the perfect way to commemorate the past and look forward to a bright future inside the New Meadowlands starting in 2010.

As the Jets prepare for their Wild Card Weekend rematch with Cincinnati, and the Giants start to prepare for what will no doubt be an exciting 2010 campaign, the lights inside Giants Stadium are now dark.  There will never be another game played inside the building that served as home for two teams, and enjoyed one glorious timeline of moments.

It finally felt like home for Jets fans on Sunday night.  Giants fans have always felt ownership.  With both teams moving across the parking lot next season, now it’s the fans who can start to make pieces of the building their own.

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Adding Plaxico is Worth a “Shot”

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 6/16/09

Plaxico Burress shot himself in the thigh last season.  Any NFL owner who passes on his services this off season may as well shoot himself in the foot.

On November 29, 2008, the disgraced 31-year-old wide receiver put a bullet in his thigh with an unlicensed gun while inside a Manhattan nightclub.  Long story short: Burress pleaded not guilty, was freed on $100,000 bail, and faces up to 3 and a half years behind bars.  Oh, and he missed the rest of the 2008 season, couldn’t help the Giants defend their title, and was subsequently released in April 2009 – it was a rough five months for the man who caught the game winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII just ten months prior.

On Monday, June 15th, Burress appeared in Manhattan Supreme Court, and had his weapons possession case adjourned until September.  According to agent Drew Rosenhaus, as posted on his Twitter page, “…there will not be a trial for Plex until after the 09 season…we are hoping to have a deal in place with a team for Plex before training camps start.”

As long as Burress doesn’t give himself a hernia carrying all that baggage, he is automatically the best wide receiver on the market this off season, and should be coveted as such.  Why not?  During the 2007 season, his last full season, Burress caught 70 balls for 1,025 yards, and 12 TDs.  Those are the numbers of an elite receiver.

So why would any NFL owner want this large distraction?  Because Plaxico Burress will produce on the field.  Bottom line.  The NFL is a results-driven league – if you can help a team win, there will always be a job for you…no matter how big your off-the-field issues may be (see Pacman Jones).

There are at least three teams who have expressed interest in adding #17 to their roster, including the Tampa Bay BucsChicago Bears, and New York Jets.  Burress would be the number one receiver on any of those teams before ever lacing up his spikes.

According to a New York Post report, under current NFL rules, Burress could be indicted, agree to a trial date, but still take the field for the 2009 season.  The one caveat, he can’t plead guilty or be convicted before then – both unlikely given the current state of affairs.

There is one minor obstacle standing in the way for these anxious, receiver-weak clubs.  According to the NFL Personal Conduct Policy, Commissioner Roger Goodell could potentially suspend the receiver for his off-the-field actions.  Interested teams have already reached out to the commissioner’s office to get a read on his intentions before making any offers.

There is no question that what Burress did was wrong, and one could certainly question his makeup.  No one really knows why he felt it was necessary to carry a loaded, unlicensed weapon into the club that night, but he will have his day in court to explain it all.  Until then, Burress should get his chance to perform on the field as several NFL teams will reach out to try and add instant offense to their club.

After all, it’s worth a “shot.”

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