It’s our sad duty this morning to pass on word of the recent passing of two members of the Jets family, Tony Veteri Sr. and Ken Shipp.
Veteri, 88, who died at home in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on Monday from his battle with pancreatic cancer, was more recently connected to the team, although most fans wouldn’t recognize his name or his face or know what exactly he did for the Green & White.
He was among the small team of NFL officials who over the years arrived at the Jets’ previous home at Hofstra University in their black-and-white-striped shirts to officiate at Jets practices. And he visited a few times after the Jets moved to their new digs here at the Atlantic Health Training Center in Florham Park, N.J.
Veteri was well-qualified to throw flags at Jets practices, which he first started doing in the early Nineties under head coach Bruce Coslet. He worked 23 seasons as a head linesman at NFL games, including four Super Bowls.
“There was a point where the Jets were the least-penalized team in the league,” Veteri’s son, Tony Jr., who has followed in the “family business” as a current 20-year NFL head linesman, fondly recalled for www.lohud.com today. “Knowing my dad, it was because he taught everybody how to hold without getting caught.”
Veteri was recruited to play football at Kentucky by Bear Bryant, played minor league baseball in the New York Giants organization, and was inducted into the Mount Vernon High School and Westchester County Sports halls of fame.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Rosie, his son and daughter and three grandchildren. Visitation at the Yannantuono Burr Davis Sharpe Funeral Home, 584 Gramatan Ave., Mount Vernon, will be today from 7-9 p.m. and Thursday from 4-9 p.m.
Shipp’s Claims to Fame
Shipp, 83, who died Monday night, was considered a passing-game guru back in the Seventies. He was the Jets’ receivers coach from 1973-75 and so worked closely with Joe Namath and his two hybrid WR-TE pass-catchers, Rich Caster and Jerome Barkum.
Then Shipp got an unexpected, short-lived promotion late in ’75 when Charley Winner was dismissed as head coach and he was named the Jets’ interim head coach for the final five games of that season.
And in that position Shipp played perhaps his most visible role in the Namath story when he became the first coach to sit down Joe Willie for a start not due to injury since Namath arrived on the Jets scene in 1965. That was on Dec. 15, 1975, before Game 13, the Monday night affair at San Diego. Here is the text of the press release, from the team’s archives, disclosing that decision:
“The New York Jets announced that Joe Namath would not start at quarterback for tonight’s game with the San Diego Chargers because of disciplinary reasons.
“Head Coach Ken Shipp announced that Namath had missed the Sunday night curfew and would be fined and that consequently, J.J. Jones would start the game. Shipp said, however, that Namath would play.
“Shipp told the Jets squad of his decision when the club arrived at the locker room for the game.”
Jones completed one of five passes for 13 yards and an interception before Namath entered the game with 9½ minutes left in the second quarter and went 15-for-29 for 181 yards and two INTs in the Jets’ 24-16 primetime loss.
Before coming to the Jets, Shipp was on the Saints staff and got to work with an older QB by the name of Archie Manning, who so respected Shipp’s coaching that he asked him to tutor his sons, Peyton and Eli.
Then after the Jets, Shipp moved on to Detroit and in 1977 Lions coach Rick Forzano gave him a new assistant to take under his wing, a shy, defensive-minded 24-year-old from tiny Wesleyan University. His work with Shipp is how Bill Belichick became a more well-rounded head-coaching candidate-to-be.
Funeral arrangements for Shipp are being handled by Jennings & Ayers Funeral Home in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Brick to Hit Hollywood
D’Brickashaw Ferguson, the Jets’ three-time Pro Bowl tackle, along with Nick Ferguson, the former Jets safety, and 18 other current and former NFL players will participate in the first-ever NFL Pro Hollywood Boot Camp at Universal Studios in Universal City, Calif.
The program, announced today by the league, runs from April 2-5 and is being directed by NFL Player Engagement and Film Life Inc., the New York-based film production company.
The four-day boot camp will offer a comprehensive overview of creative disciplines in the film industry, including screenwriting, directing, producing and film financing. Session leaders will be selected from among top industry executives and filmmakers and will include John Singleton, multiple Academy Award-nominated director/producer/ screenwriter, and writer/actor/directors Robert Townsend and Keenen Ivory Wayans.
Participants will have the opportunity to shoot and edit a short film at Universal Studios, the largest working motion picture studio in the world, which offers 30 sound stages and 30 backlot movie sets where many legendary films have been shot.
Tags: Archie Manning, Bill Belichick, Bruce Coslet, J.J. Jones, Joe Namath, Ken Shipp, Tony Veteri
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