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Westhoff Mentors a New Kind of Audience

Posted by Randy Lange on March 15, 2011 – 1:27 pm

Coaching is teaching is coaching, and Mike Westhoff showed the close relationship between the two when he spoke this morning before a different roomful of young people than he’s generally accustomed.

“For every Darrelle Revis who’s a No. 1 pick, every Nick Mangold and Mark Sanchez, there are a ton of guys just trying to find a way to be a success,” the Jets’ special teams coordinator told a room of 75 people, most of whom are students at Daytop New Jersey, a drug and alcohol substance abuse treatment and education program in Mendham. “How do you get from the point where you are or were to a point where you want to be?”

The rhetorical question resonated with this crowd, afterward in a question-and-answer session and before, when students Everett and Erica spoke briefly before Westhoff’s 45-minute remarks. Said Erica poignantly, “I want to show people I can be something other than a drug addict.”

Westhoff didn’t go down that road in his life but he’s had many other challenges thrown at him. Jets fans are well aware of his metal prosthesis inside his once cancerous left leg. He mentioned that as well as his hardscrabble upbringing.

“I was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in a row house. I wasn’t a very good student — in fact I was a terrible student,” Coach Westy said. “Then I woke up. I found a way. I figured it out.

“The guys in my room are trying to find out how to be successful, turn things around and make it in this business. I try to help them improve their image, their sense of worth.”

Westhoff’s delivery wasn’t much different than how he talks with reporters and his players, even though today’s target audience wasn’t as football-oriented. From his youth he segued into his higher education — he received his master’s in educational psychology — and his climb up the coaching ladder, from high school to college to pro coaching.

The cancer “changed everything” about his desire to be an NFL head coach someday, but it didn’t derail Iron Mike.

“We should all get T-shirts that say ‘Life Is Not Fair’,” he said. “But you take what you have, figure it out, make the best of it. I decided to be the best special teams coach ever. You can’t have that argument and I’m not in it. I’m in it.”

He was also into his audience, roving the field like a Brad Smith or an Eric Smith, moving from anecdotes involving a rabbit, a crow and a fox, to the devil, to Colin Powell and Harvard. And he was a bullet-point machine.

Secrets to surviving and thriving in the classroom?

1. Show up.

2. Pay attention.

3. Ask questions.

4. Don’t quit.

Success in life?

1. Take notes.

2. Find a way.

3. Get a plan.

Westhoff said this was the first time he’s spoken to at-risk youths but he’s done some corporate speaking before, most recently a few weeks ago. And he let on that with one year left on his coaching contract, he’s been getting feelers for some endeavors for his post-football life, from ESPN and the like.

But Westhoff, who recently turned 63, wasn’t announcing his retirement this morning. “I’m the luckiest guy you can ever know,” he told the students about his nearly 30 years in the game. He loves helping to get all those players who aren’t the top picks from their personal point A to point B, guys like Larry Izzo, the 5’10″, 228-pound linebacker who has three Super Bowl rings and three Pro Bowl berths to his credit, and Bernie Parmalee, the former Jets and Dolphins RB who recently told Mike’s son, John, “Your dad changed my life.”

And he also still loves the challenge of getting ever closer to his first Super Bowl berth, and the victories that have helped him and his Jets get that close.

In January, he recalled, “We went into Indianapolis and beat a very good Colts team. Then we went up to New England and beat those guys, who I’d rather beat than go to heaven.” Then for those who didn’t catch his intent, “It’s just a metaphor.”

We suspect Westhoff’s team will beat the Patriots a few more times before he hangs it up and he’ll get into heaven. He’ll find a way. He’ll get a plan.

About Daytop New Jersey

Founded in 1992, Daytop New Jersey is a comprehensive substance abuse co-occurring treatment and education center for male and female adolescents with facilities in Mendham, Pittsgrove, Parsippany, Flemington and Clayton, N.J. The program is individualized, family-based, cost-effect, peer-oriented and multidiscipinary in nature. The treatment center provides a comprehensive drug and alcohol program as well as a full education in the new preparatory school for both residential and outpatient students. For more information visit Daytop New Jersey’s Website.

Dig Spreads the Grid Word

We let you know last week about S James Ihedigbo’s role in the group representing Amobi Okoye Foundation, the International Federation of American Football and USA Football that is visiting Africa and helping spread word about the great game. Here’s a link to a video on usafootball.com showing “Dig” and his friends on their mission.


Posted in Randy Lange | 25 Comments »


25 Responses to “Westhoff Mentors a New Kind of Audience”

  1. By IRA on Mar 15, 2011 | Reply

    Real glad to hear Westhoff took the time to help some troubled youths change their lives. Wish there were more hi profile people like him doing the same. If just one kid out of that classroom changes his life for the better then coach gets into my HOF.

  2. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Mar 15, 2011 | Reply

    ESPN has printed the first column I’ve seen that says Goodell should resign if the dispute results in a lockout. I couldn’t agree more and hope to read many more columns like this sooner than later. And speaking of greed, MJV, the same column reports that Goodell earns $10 MILLION PER YEAR! Look me in the eye and tell me with a straight face that he deserves one tenth of that! In the last few days II notice some buyer’s remorse over Goodell and nostalgia for the much more effective, much less bullying Tagliabue in the press, and that’s also a good thing. As for Westhoff, good for him — and who says he might still not make a good HC for some team?

  3. By Frank on Mar 16, 2011 | Reply

    Tommy 64 enough with the Goodell derangememt syndrome already. He has been a great commissioner contrary to your thoughts. He is also now making $1 until this issue gets resolved. What about Smith and the other union reps did they take pay cuts? Goodell has been tirelessly working on a resolution and certainly has 10 million reasons to get a deal done.
    The NFLPA is represented by a bunch of loons who think the fans will side with them. Strong arming the top draft picks into not showing up for their moment of a lifetime shows how out of touch with reality the union is. The fans will be outraged as I am & hope the guys don’t listen. They are supposedly not representing the players anymore THEN DON’T Very happy to see Doty is not on the case

  4. By Frank on Mar 16, 2011 | Reply

    I absolutely love Westhoff he will go down as one of the best coaches this team ever had. His drive and determination in the face of adversity is something to admire and something each of us can bring into our lives. Love the fact he went to daytop I did something similar this past weekend. We should all give back and do something for the kids especially those who need it.

  5. By Mike Jet Vet on Mar 16, 2011 | Reply

    Tom64 come on bud we’ve been down this road together for awhile now I’ve been calling for Goodells head long before these idiotic procedings you know that ..BTW yes I’m very surprised you didn’t find a reason to Blame Schotty and Smith it shows growth my friend growth

  6. By GaryC on Mar 16, 2011 | Reply

    I believe many of the fans who are pro player in this dispute are into the hero worship.these players are doing a job that many fans would die for and they see themselves as the players.just like fans of the hollywood type who turn a blinds eye or deaf ear to the stars they adore,even though they commit acts that should put them away for awhile.It probably has to also do with the different classes of society, where the head honchos need to be taken down a peg,in this case the owners and the poor players are fighting for an equal share of something that they the players did not take one gamble on.

  7. By IRA on Mar 16, 2011 | Reply

    Frank,
    Kudos to you a very good thing you did.

  8. By Jet Fan Tom Since '64 on Mar 16, 2011 | Reply

    Frank, don’t make me laugh about Goodell’s $1 a year salary, as if that matters. As MJV says, there were and are plenty of reasons to want to see the last of Goodell long before this dispute happened, even if allowing this dispute makes clear how in over his head he is at this job. His constant messing with the rules, his bizarre belief that cutting exhibition games has anything to do with adding regular season games, and his truly obscene willingness to fine and suspend players with virtually no input from anyone else renders him a disgrace and an embarrassment. He can’t leave for a job with Topps too soon. P.S. I’m tryin’, MJV, I’m tryin’…

  9. By scjoe on Mar 16, 2011 | Reply

    How in the world can anyone say that “this is 100% on the owners?” It is 50% on the greedy owners and 50% on the greedy players and their union. I can not feel sorry for a person (in this case an NFL player) who earns (on an average) of a million dollars a year for playing six months out of the year, and that does not even take into consideration the medical benefits and other associated benefits that are involved. I don’t want to hear about the injury risk involved because police officers, fire fighters, soldiers, prison guards, etc. etc. etc. take as much of a risk, or more, every day of their life, for a whole lot less compensation, so don’t give me that argument. It is what it is, greedy billionaires against greedy millionaires PERIOD

  10. By scjoe on Mar 16, 2011 | Reply

    64tom, I don’t know exactly what it is between you and Goodell. If you think for one minute he is anything more then just a pawn and a puppet for NFL owners you are highly mistaken! I am not saying I am a fan per say, I do kind of agree with the accountability he has brought to the table for the players, I think there should be accountability in every workplace. But if you think he has any influence what so ever in these negotiations you would be wrong. He is payed by, and works for, Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, Woody Johnson, Al Davis, John Mara the Rooney’s etc. etc.etc. That is where his allegiance would be, but to hold him personally accountable for where we are at, would be wrong.

  11. By Jet Fan Tom Since '64 on Mar 16, 2011 | Reply

    Actually, scjoe, the average is $1.8 mil, the median salary $800,000. As for Goodell as a pawn, the Vichy government in France during the Nazi occupation were pawns, too, but that certainly didn’t absolve them of guilt, even if they arguably weren’t as evil as the Nazis themselves. I hold Goodell personally responsible for doing the owners’ bidding, if that’s actually what he’s doing, in which case he should quit and find some honorable way of making a living.

  12. By GaryC on Mar 16, 2011 | Reply

    this is a message to the fans, you are the helium to the NFLs balloon, without you nothing takes off.remember that the next time the league interrupts your enjoyment.

  13. By scjoe on Mar 16, 2011 | Reply

    I here ya 64tom, but I will go out on a limb here and say that regardless who the commissioner is, whether it be Goodell or anyone else, whatever the owners want, whatever the owners are looking for, they will get. I still say that the commissioner is no more then a symbol, or a tool they can use however they see fit, he is in the pockets of the rich, arrogant, greedy owners. That is not to absolve the players or their union in any way shape or form. Imagine a business where an owner can skim 1 billion off the top, THEN divvy up the remaining 8 billion with their employees. How in the world can either side have anything negative to say about those numbers? cont

  14. By scjoe on Mar 16, 2011 | Reply

    I believe the Kraft’s the Mara’s, the Johnson’s, the Brady’s, the Manning’s, and the Brees of the world need to stop and take a good long look around at what is going on in the real world today, stop counting all that you have now, and all that you are still looking to collect, and take a good long look around, THEN, go back to the bargaining table, and if you all still share the same opinions as you did before, then you do not even earn the credit as men that I have given you before!

  15. By Jet Fan Tom Since '64 on Mar 17, 2011 | Reply

    Nothin’ to argue with in that last post of yours, scjoe.

  16. By kk on Mar 17, 2011 | Reply

    Guys, I have to say I am disappointed in the Jets getting outclassed by the Giant Organizatio.. First even though the Jets Coaches are working they cut their salaries by 25%. I realize it’s across the board but these folks are working so why take a pay cut.
    Secondly, why do we have to pay for our tickets up front with the uncertainty in not knowing if there will even be a season this year.
    My hope was the Jets would have doen the same thing as they had done for the Playoff tickets. Take credit card info and only charge the cards when this was settled. I find them taking our money and also cutting Coaches salary low class and unfortunate.
    They’ve done alot to change the image of this organization then pull this penny pinching.

  17. By Frank on Mar 17, 2011 | Reply

    64 what exactly is your beef with Goodell? The fact that he is trying to protect the players from killing each other? Do you have any clue what is happening to the retired NFL players? There is an epidemic with severe post NFL health issues. You and the others are probably the same crew skewering the NFL for not doing enough protecting the players. What other problem Tommy? Holding the players responsible for their off the field conduct? You really have a problem with the system in place? Are you kidding? The league is trying to help these guys by coming down hard on them and then putting in place mechanisms for them to succeed. Or is it just your rant on the 18 game season? Which was a bargaining chip and is now off the table Lighten UP!

  18. By wayne on Mar 17, 2011 | Reply

    I hope this season goes down the drain. In fact, I hope the next 2 are gone. Then some of us will discover how very unimportant it is to be whining over a game………But sorry to say, it’ll be back, it’ll be back far too soon. Juxtapose this foolishness to what’s going on across the globe, PLEASE.

  19. By uncle joe on Mar 17, 2011 | Reply

    I love Westoff and I was VERY SURPRISED that the Jets interviewed Shotty and not Westoff before they got Rex. If we didn’t get Rex, Westoff I think would’ve been a GREAT Head Coach. Every offseason that passes I get nervous that some team will open their eyes and make this guy their coach. I think the only thing that has held him back is his age and his cancer but I think the guy is GREAT!

  20. By uncle joe on Mar 17, 2011 | Reply

    Shotty on the other hand, I think Ryan was praying one of these teams would come take him from us. I got a strong feeling that Callahan will have a lot of input in the playcalling this year.What Shotty did at Pittsburhgs goaline is unacceptable and I’m sure Rex understands that.

  21. By Mike Jet Vet on Mar 17, 2011 | Reply

    Scjoe right on brother they need to take a step back take into account the suffering going on by regular folks all around then the earth .These players believe millions a year isn’t enough it turns my stomach.. Off topic but good example of giving kids to much money to fast Mike Tyson comes to mind won’t get into details and I know the detractors will say its not the same I believe the princible is ..name me any average human being who can’t live on a million or 2 a year very well and I’ll show you a liar .. Then let them invest that money into a business of their own then I will say they deserve to sit at the table but that would require them to earn it

  22. By Jet Fan Tom Since '64 on Mar 17, 2011 | Reply

    “Don’t make me laugh by talkin’ tough,” Frank, as Elvis Costello so wonderfully said. If Goodell ever really gave a damn about player safety, he never would’ve proposed an 18-game season to begin with, an idea which as Ira points out may not be off the board for good as it should be. He’s totally MIA on the biggest issue, which is outrageous ticket prices. Most importantly, have you been watching football for more than a few years? Because let me tell you, there was once a time when the rules on basic things like what is a tackle or a legal catch or interference with one didn’t change every other week. And when no one ever dreamed that suspension of a player could be left to one egomaniac who’d be much better off flipping football cards.

  23. By Mike Jet Vet on Mar 17, 2011 | Reply

    Frank.. these players have the best coverage all though their careers they get hurt its repaired within a week of that injury, by the best surgeons in the country they play 16 games a season 6months a year then have at least 3 months off .. Then let’s add into the equation they understand the risks they take to make millions its a CAREER CHOICE occupational hazard comes with any job why should they have it any different by the time they retire they’ve made 100′s of millions.. I have absolutely no sympathy for them .. How about players of old played with broken bones or worse in the day when 100k was big money give me and serious minded Fans a break.. I have more injury’s then 90% of these players from occupationally hazards

  24. By Tom Spicer on Mar 19, 2011 | Reply

    Mike the EX Jet, Wrong again like I have said before most of the NFL players career is 3 years the make a few hundred thousand not hundreds of millions like you say.

  25. By Mike Jet Vet on Mar 19, 2011 | Reply

    Spicer Wrong again I didn’t disagreed on your point about some players making 100′s of thousands or even some only lasting 3 years .. My point and the reality of it is this let me say it again maybe you’ll understand it this time around.. What I said was they are not the the problem if anything they are the solution they’re not the ones asking or creating trouble its the big $$ boys and their greedy agents owners have no problem with the players you speak of… knock knock HELLO McFly

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