Thanks, Rex.

By Jason Klein

Thanks, Rex.

Although you never delivered the Lombardi Trophy you promised, you made me believe it was always within reach. You once had everyone believing, back before your team’s talent slimmed down faster than your waistline.

Rex Ryan Has Been The Jets Head Coach Since 2009.

Rex Ryan Has Been The Jets Head Coach Since 2009.

If today is the last time you don that black Jets vest, let me just simply say:

Thanks, Rex.

Thanks for navigating the Jets to within one game of the Super Bowl.

Twice.

Thanks for giving my perennially stale team a refreshingly colorful, vibrant image.

Thanks for your lighthearted press conferences and your Hard Knocks defense.

Thanks for making the New York Jets a place where free agents wanted to sign.

Thanks for bringing stability to an organization that historically lacks any.

Thanks for humanizing the head coach position with your public displays of raw emotion.

You were the biggest star in a town filled with them, and for a period of time, you were able to mask the dysfunctional stink that permeates all things Jets Football.

Most importantly, thanks for making the Jets relevant and credible. Before your bombastic arrival, the Jets had no personality and no hope. They were a “little brother” franchise, stuck playing in someone else’s building.

You stepped in and put the entire league on notice: “Here come the Jets!”

You refused to kiss Belichick’s rings…you wanted to go get your own. You made guarantees, wanted to meet the President, take “swipes” at other team’s players, “lead the league in wins,” and “Play like a Jet.” You brought “Rexy Back” and then got a “God damn snack.”

You made the media laugh and opposing quarterbacks cry. From your players, you demanded maximum effort and commanded ultimate respect. You gave Jets fans hope, even when ownership and the front office gave you none.

Over this past miserable year, you lost your bravado, a ton of games, and most likely, your job. Management set you up to fail, and ultimately, that’s exactly what you did. However, you don’t escape all culpability. Along the way, you had your own faults too. Everybody does, though.

Should you lose your “dream job” for it? It’s debatable. It’s possible your act has just run its course in New York. It could simply just be time to move on. If so, the Jets willingly let go of a brilliant defensive mind. They’ll fire one of the most competitive and confident men in the game, and someone who is adored by his players. They’ll say goodbye to the man who brought the Jets as close to a Super Bowl as anyone since Weeb.

Twice.

For that alone, I offer my gratitude and simply say:

Thanks, Rex.

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Jets Fans Losing Patience with Revis

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 8/25/10

Revis Island is a lonely place these days.  Once a thriving, popular destination, the island has been evacuated, deserted by once loyal visitors dressed in green and white.

Has Darrelle Revis Alienated Himself From Jets Fans?

Over the past 24 days, the Darrelle Revis saga has taken a dramatic shift in the court of public opinion.  A stalemate that once saw Jets fans side with the disgruntled cornerback now has most rethinking their allegiance, choosing to favor the organization’s position instead.

It’s a surprising twist considering the Jets recent history regarding popular, and important, players looking for new contracts (see Pete Kendall & Leon Washington).  However, Revis’s perceived unwillingness to negotiate or compromise has left Jets fans frustrated with the NFL’s best corner.

They want one thing, and one thing only: a Super Bowl Title.  That’s it.  It’s been 42 long years without one for Gang Green and the 2010 season represents the organization’s best opportunity to change that.  Revis’s self-imposed absence from camp, and his demands to be the highest paid corner in the league, leaves Jets fans questioning his desire to win and labels him as a selfish, “me-first” player.

Darrelle Me-vis.

If a “media blackout” wasn’t in effect, Revis would be telling his side of the story.  He’d be preaching about his fear of injury without a guaranteed contract in place, and he’d point to the recently jettisoned Leon Washington as his “Exhibit A.”  He’d want everyone to know that the Jets were the ones to first approach him with plans for a re-worked contract, claiming he had out-played his existing deal (a pact he ironically held out to get as a rookie).  He’d also mention that his skills are far superior to those of Nnamdi Asomugha, the new salary standard for NFL corners, and the man Raiders’ owner, Al Davis, grossly overpaid to keep.

All valid points.

However, over the last 24 days, fans have not heard a peep out of Revis camp.  Instead, they’ve become more enchanted with the players actually in Jets camp, admiring their work ethic and determination on HBO’s Hard Knocks.  They’ve also watched two players with similar contract concerns,Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson, report to camp, work hard, and earn new deals “the right way.”

In addition, Jets fans have bought into Head Coach, Rex Ryan’s swagger, and truly believe this is a win-now team – with or without Darrelle Revis.

Revis is the best player on the Jets, though he is not bigger than the team.  But make no mistake about it, Jets fans: Gang Green is a better team with Number 24 on the field.  Period.  If this team, and tortured fan-base, have any aspirations of hoisting a Lombardi Trophy in February 2011, they are going to need Revis there to help.

For the time being, Revis Island remains dark.  Disillusioned fans have lost interest in his demands and chosen to support a team dedicated to winning rather than their money-hungry defensive star.

A deal will eventually get done, and when it does, Revis Island will, once again, open its gates.  The question remains, will Jets fans, once again, open their arms, welcoming back the team’s most dominating player?

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NFL Fans Always Ready For Some Football

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 4/22/10

It’s baseball season.  So why is everyone still talking about the NFL?

Former Houston Oilers Head Coach, Jerry Glanville, once claimed the NFL stands for, “Not For Long.”  These days, the National Football League has more lasting power than ever.  It’s been nearly three full months since the New Orleans Saints hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, yet football continues to be top of mind for most sports fans.  Why?

NFL Draft – Prime Example of NFL’s Popularity

The NFL has successfully turned the most innocuous league-related occurrences into “must-see” events.  What other professional sports league can create a buzz around the release of their upcoming schedule?  This past Tuesday, media outlets were alerted of the impending football calendar announcement to occur at 7:00 PM sharp, strategically leaking a few of the marquee matchups in the hours leading up to it.  The next morning, fans around the country were playing the ever popular “WLWLWL Game” with their co-workers and friends, sparking heated water cooler debate.

Tonight, the NFL takes center stage once again.  The 2010 NFL Draft will make a weekday appearance, and will do so under prime time’s hot lights.  This annual roster replenishment affair is often over-analyzed, contains little action, and drags on for hours, yet, few NFL fans will miss it.  Fans are so trained to hang on every NFL-related word, they’d probably watch paint dry if Chad Ochocinco were the one doing the painting.

Every morsel of NFL activity is precious, something fans should cherish…at least that’s the way the league portrays it…and why not?  Their product is unique, exciting, contains some of the biggest stars in the sports world, and is extremely limited in nature.

While leagues like Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association schedule never-ending 162 and 82-game seasons respectively, NFL teams only play 16 contests per year.  That’s it.  Each game is so meaningful, and is analyzed and promoted as individual events, rather than single games that make up a larger season.

An NFL Sunday is a holiday, a sacred day full of rituals that include face paintingjersey wearingtailgatingchest bumps and fist pounds.  The final Sunday of the season, Super Bowl Sunday, is so big it needs two full weeks of hype leading up to it.

Fantasy football has also added to the game’s development in recent years, giving fans across the nation reason to watch out-of-market games and follow players they would otherwise have no interest in watching.  Other new technologies including Facebook and Twitter, are meticulously used by league personnel, and players, to keep fans informed, and well connected to all breaking league news.  Even Commissioner Roger Goodell operates his own Twitter account.

The league’s relationship with HBO’s “Hard Knocks” is another marketing tool working in their favor.  Each season, an NFL franchise is featured throughout training camp, granting curious fans exclusive access into the locker room, team meetings, and after-hour activities.  The show gives fans a better understanding of how a team functions, and brings them closer to some of the game’s biggest stars.

The NFL’s focused marketing strategies have its popularity rising at an alarming clip.  They have embraced technology and used it to further infiltrate their fans’ lives.  Face it, the NFL is everywhere, all the time.  There is no off-season anymore for the nation’s most popular sport.  For now, baseball is America’s Pastime. But, Not For Long.

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It’s a Hard Knock Life…For Gang Green

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 3/25/10

Move over Orphan AnnieRex Ryan just registered for summer classes at the school of Hard Knocks.

This August, the New York Jets will be the latest team featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks, a documentary series produced in conjunction with NFL Films.  The novel reality show takes football fans behind closed doors inside an NFL locker room, giving them access to internal coaches meetings, practices, and players’ personal lives away from the field.

This summer, Rex Ryan’s players won’t be the only ones hanging on his every word.

The Jets will be the seventh team featured on the show that first featured aBaltimore Ravensteam, in 2001, with a feisty, loud defensive coach named…Rex Ryan.

This time, Ryan is running the show in New York.  He will most likely run the show on HBO too.  His Big Apple-sized personality is the perfect fit for reality television.  His bluster and quick-witted comments will keep viewers on their toes, plus, his recent lap-band surgery, and the eating challenges that lie ahead, adds a human element sidebar that should add to the intrigue.

Throw in a marketable, second-year franchise QB (Mark Sanchez), a trash-talking veteran linebacker (Bart Scott), arguably the best defensive player in the league – barring an extended holdout, (Darrelle Revis), a young stud running back (Shonn Greene), and a newly acquired, future first-ballot Hall of Famer (Ladainian Tomlinson), and the Jets should be must-see-TV this summer.

In addition, coming off a surprisingly successful run through the AFC Playoffs in 2009, the Jets will have a “Super Bowl or Bust” mentality this season as they leave their old home behind and prepare to open up a new, state-of-the-art Stadium in the Meadowlands.  It remains to be seen whether their inclusion on the show will distract them on the way to reaching their lofty goals.

It will certainly be a learning experience…

From the school of Hard Knocks.

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