Most Jets fans probably don’t know Mike Gerstle, but as the club’s vice president of finance, his work on the Jets’ financial and tax matters for the last 32 years was an important contribution to the growth of the Green & White.
And as a testament to Mike’s standing in the Jets family, he received a standing ovation from more than 100 well-wishers — a mix of family members and current and former team employees — at a retirement celebration in the business café at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center this afternoon.
“It’s been an unbelievable journey and I’ve had so many good times,” said the always upbeat, white-haired gentleman. “I can’t thank all of you enough. This is a great organization, and working for the NFL is something special.”
Executive vice president Thad Sheely served as emcee for the short presentation of parting praise and gifts. Gerstle received his own green and white No. 32 jersey. We’re sure Emerson Boozer, Leon Johnson and all the other 32s in franchise history are OK with the honor. Gerstle is shown in the centerpiece photo on our home page alongside his new jersey along with Sheely and GM Mike Tannenbaum to the left and head coach Rex Ryan.
Also presented to him was a framed photo montage of the 32 team pictures during his tenure, all surrounding the shot of him and his wife, Donna, being introduced at midfield before the Jets’ final regular-season game against the Bills at New Meadowlands Stadium in January. The accomplished golfer will be receive a custom-fit set of new clubs.
Among those in attendance were Tannenbaum and Ryan, assistant coaches and members of the football, front office and business staffs.
“We were always secure in the knowledge,” said Tannenbaum, “that Mike would help us put together a team that would have success for many years. We really appreciate that.”
Brian Friedman, who now takes over Gerstle’s role after joining the Jets last year as chief financial officer and working with him for this planned transition, called him “a guy who knows more about NFL finances than anyone else in the league.”
And among those who made the trip to Florham Park for this occasion was former team president Steve Gutman, who hired Gerstle as assistant controller on April 2, 1979.
My partner Eric Allen assembled a list for this occasion that Sheely read to the crowd and that sounds like “The 12 Days of Christmas.” In his 32 years the Jets:
■ Played in 504 games (237-265-2 record)
■ Played in 22 postseason games (10-12)
■ Had 15 winning seasons (with 10 of them coming since 1997)
■ Had seven uniform changes
■ Played in four AFC Championship Games
■ Had two players, Joe Namath (1985) and Don Maynard (1987) selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame
■ Had two owners, Leon Hess and Woody Johnson.
■ And had a Gerstle in a pear tree. Make that a Gerstle perhaps on top of the victory tree outside the complex, looking to the future when he will no longer be a Jets employee but will still be attending Jets games and rooting on a Super Bowl championship, “which I’m sure we’ll get soon.”
But as Gerstle said, from his perspective not making it to the big game even once in all his time in the office pales in comparison to the great experiences and relationships he’s had in his role with the team.
“I come to this facility and I pinch myself, even today,” he said. “To be able to say I work for the New York Jets in the NFL, it just doesn’t get much better than that.”
Sanchez Moves into Second Round
QB Mark Sanchez outpolled Dolphins T Jake Long in the first round and now is in the middle of a tougher Round 2 battle against New Orleans QB Drew Brees for the race to be named the Madden NFL 12 cover athlete. ESPN has set up the vote in the form of a March/April Madness bracket sheet and fans can visit this link now to vote in the Sanchez-Brees matchup along with all the other head-to-head battles through April 3. The vote for the Madden winner will be held the week of April 18.
Tags: Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, Mike Gerstle, Mike Tannenbaum, retirement, Rex Ryan, Steve Gutman
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