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Camp Coordinator Fiedler Still Has NYJ Connections

Posted by Randy Lange on April 8, 2013 – 11:34 am

Jay Fiedler had a short career as an AFC East opponent of the Jets and an even shorter stay as a Jets quarterback. He’s been out of the game for seven seasons.

But Jay’s never left his Long Island base and he never stopped keeping tabs on the Jets. And he continues to teach the game to Jets fans and their kids as well as those who wear colors different than the green and white.

Fiedler’s latest endeavor in the football camp field is the Prime Time Football Offense and Defense Passing Skills Camp, which will be held on Sunday, April 28, at Randall’s Island Field No. 8, with former Jets Bobby Jackson and Bruce Harper serving as coaches. We’ll provide more details on the camp a little farther down in this blog.

“My dad, Ken, has been running summer camps for 50 years,” Fielder told me. “My brother, Scott, took over the Prime Time sports camps seven or eight years ago, and I’ve run my own Brookwood football camp for the last 15 years in Glen Spey, near Port Jervis, N.Y.

“Just these past couple of years, I’ve expanded and done a lot more year-round stuff, local clinics, quarterback/wide receiver clinics. I started talking with the people of the Yorkville Youth Athletic Association and they wanted me to come in and do something for them. So we came up with the idea of running a one-day clinic out on Randall’s Island.”

Being in the heart of the city is right up Fiedler’s alley. He grew up in Oceanside on the Island and starred as a quarterback, point guard and decathlete at Oceanside High. He stayed in the Northeast and had an outstanding Ivy League career as Dartmouth’s QB, then moved on to the pros. He actually coached receivers for a short while at Hofstra, the Jets’ former HQ, before stringing together seasons with Minnesota and Jacksonville and then a five-year stay as a starter with the Dolphins.

Jay’s Short Stay in Green

Fiedler came to the Jets as an unrestricted free agent in 2005 and made it to the third game of the regular season. That, of course, was the disastrous affair against the Jaguars, when he and Chad Pennington suffered devastating shoulder injuries within two second-half series of each other. Despite rehabbing the shoulder well enough to get consideration from several teams, he never played in the NFL after that.

“No doubt I wanted my Jets stay to be much longer,” he recalled. “Being a local guy and having the opportunity to play for the team, even as brief as it was, I still made some connections with other guys I played with and other alumni. Also, just being involved in the local football market, I’m involved with a lot of former Jets and see them at a number of events.”

Fiedler talked about his post-football pursuits, among them owning a minor-league basketball team and a concert-promotion company. These days he handles a regional market of the energy service company started by Pro Football Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas.

“As much as you hated Thurman as a Jet, he was some back,” Fiedler remembered. “Probably one of the smartest players I came across in my 10 years in the league.”

Fiedler, needless to say, has the smarts, too, to earn his degree from Dartmouth. And if you recall that school from recent Jets stories, well, yes, it’s true that he is a fellow Green Wave alumnus along with current Jets GM John Idzik.

“I didn’t know John from Dartmouth, but when I was coming out as a player, he was with the Tampa Bay organization,” he said. “My coaches put me in touch with him and he was definitely helpful throughout the process when I was being scouted, going to the combine. We weren’t in close touch but when we played against teams he was involved in, we made it a point to reach out to each other.”

And Fiedler, like many longtime fans of the Green & White, likes what Idzik has been doing in his first months on the job.

Moving in Right Direction

“For him it’s just about getting down to business, building the team from inside the locker room rather than on the sports pages,” he said. “I think they’re doing a good job of refocusing the organization and how they want the team to be run. We’ll see how it plays out over the next couple of years. There’s definitely a few holes they have to fill, but I think they’re moving in the right direction, and I’m excited to see how things progress.”

As for the progress of Fiedler’s April 28 camp, it’s designed for teaching age-appropriate fundamental passing, receiving and coverage skills and drills. Fans of all NFL teams are invited, although the staff has a Jets alumni flavor. Harper, the Jets running back from 1977-83 who easily remains the franchise’s all-time kick-return yardage leader, will coach offensive skills. Jackson, the team’s 90-game left cornerback starter from ’78-85 who was a top interceptor and a defensive team captain, will work the defensive side of the passing game.

“Bobby and I over the past couple of months have been working on some weekly clinics throughout Long Island. His son, Ashun, who was a college wide receiver, comes in and helps out along with Bobby,” Jay said. “And everyone loves Bruce from his days as a player. I’ve gotten to know him at events the past couple of years and I love the way he interacts with fans. Certainly he can teach people a great deal.”

Additionally, Fiedler has invited other former NFL players to coach and make appearances. All the former clinicians will be supported by experienced high school and youth coaches from around the area.

The afternoon schedule has been set up for three age groups. The Pee Wee Clinic for Grades 1-4 ($50 advanced registration/$60 cash only at event) will run from noon-1:30 p.m., the Youth Clinic for Grades 5-8 ($75/$90) will run from 1:30-3:30, and the High School Clinic for Grades 9-12 ($99/$120) goes from 3:30-6 p.m. Youth and high school quarterbacks can receive a video analysis of their footwork and technique for an additional fee. All participants will receive a T-shirt courtesy of Modell’s.

Click here for more information on the clinic and here for a helpful set of FAQs for the afternoon.


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Greene Said ‘Change’ Did Not Refer to Jets QBs

Posted by Randy Lange on November 15, 2012 – 5:17 pm

Updated, Friday, 7:25 a.m. ET

Shonn Greene wanted to set the record straight.

The Jets tailback made a point to tell the team’s beat reporters after today’s practice that he didn’t say what Michael Silver of Yahoo Sports said he said under the headline “Jets RB Shonn Greene is right: Time for team to hand ball to ‘terrible’ Tim Tebow.”

“I think the quotes were totally out of context,” Greene said. “It was that we’re 3-6 and things need to change. I said nothing about changing the quarterback, nothing about any single person on this team. I’ve been here four years and I never once said anything about anybody on this team.”

Greene’s agent had set up the interview with Silver on Tuesday. The first he heard of the piece was when a friend texted him the article after it posted Wednesday night.

“I was shocked,” he said. “First of all, the article was supposed to be a feature on me and where I’m at right now, and how it turned into me saying this about this person and that person, I don’t know.”

One of the key quotes Greene took issue with was Silver quoting him saying, “You feel bad for Mark, but at the same time you want to win. We’re not here to protect people’s feelings.”

“I never said that,” he said, adding he didn’t bring up QB Mark Sanchez’s name at all. “What I said was we’re 3-6 and some things need to change. We need to win.”

This Jet-on-the-media story comes on the heels of head coach Rex Ryan’s critiquing of the unnamed Jets who were quoted on Tim Tebow in Tuesday’s Daily News, both to his team and to reporters at Wednesday’s news conference.

“First you get yesterday, now today with me. It’s just ‘C’mon, like, really?’ ” Greene said. “We just want to play football. That’s all we want to do.”

Greene said his relationship with Sanchez was unharmed by the story.

“I let him know about it through a text,” No. 23 said. “We’re not worried about that. We’ve got a game to play.”

Thursday Injury Reports

It’s good to see big Kenrick Ellis moving around again. The 346-point nose tackle seems to be nearing a return to action after sitting the last four games with the knee injury he suffered vs. Houston and not even practicing the first three weeks after the injury. He’s listed as full-go in practice this week, along with 12 other teammates, and he could help in trying to corral ninth-year man Steven Jackson, the 240-pound feature back whom Ryan today called “a big-time playmaker who’s as big as he ever was, strong, determined, and still has speed and all the skills.”

Also on the Green & White I-report, WR Stephen Hill stayed home for a second day with an illness but Ryan said, “I’m hopeful he’ll be able to play” on Sunday. S LaRon Landry (heel) also didn’t practice, as per his usual late-week schedule. And RB Bilal Powell, listed as limited before practice, also was a DNP. Powell may have gotten his concussion Sunday when he was shoved by Seattle’s Malcolm Smith and fell into what appeared to be an accidental knee shot from Leon Washington as he was tackled after a punt return.

For the Rams, WR Austin Pettis (toe) did not practice today, while LB Mario Haggan (thigh), new to the list, and DE Eugene Sims (knee) and S Darian Stewart (knee) were all limited.

Alumni News

John Schmitt, Joe Namath’s Super Bowl III center, visited the Jets training center today, as usual impeccably clothed in suit and tie. Schmitt just celebrated his 70th birthday on Monday but he doesn’t look a day over 60. Maybe that’s because of the 60 hours he still puts in every week running his businesses.

Former Jets RB -KR-PR extraordinaire Bruce Harper will be among the sports world luminaries at the 16th annual “Teddy Dinner” at the Hilton Garden Inn on Staten Island, N.Y., tonight. Teddy Atlas, is, of course, the celebrated boxing trainer and ESPN Friday Night Fights analyst and a former Jet himself as a consultant in Eric Mangini’s regime. This year’s gala will benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy throughout the New York area from Staten Island to Rockaway.

Pass and Catch

A little unfinished business from Seattle that may interest only me:

Golden Tate had the first-quarter 38-yard touchdown reception from Russell Wilson and the fourth-quarter 23-yard TD pass to Sidney Rice. A TD catch and a TD pass in the same game … that doesn’t happen often, does it?

No, it doesn’t. The only other time an opponent did it in franchise history was on Oct. 1, 1961, when the Jets were the Titans, the game was in the Polo Grounds, the opponent was the Boston Patriots, and Gino Cappelletti had an all-around scoring day. Cappelletti threw to Larry Garron for a 27-yard TD on a fake field goal, caught a 32-yard strike from Butch Songin and kicked three field goals and three PATs, accounting for 24 of the Pats’ points in the Titans’ 37-30 win.

The Jets have also done it twice to opponents: Curtis Martin at Tampa Bay in 2000 (the “Flashlight Game”) and Freeman McNeil in ’83 at Miami.

It’s the first time it’s happened in the NFL since 2009, when Mewelde Moore turned the trick for Pittsburgh vs. San Diego, and it’s only the 12th time since 1960 that a wideout was the player who threw and caught a TD pass in the same game.


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3,500 Rock On at Jets Draft Day Party

Posted by Randy Lange on April 28, 2011 – 10:19 pm

As the wild, unpredictable first round of the 2011 NFL Draft unfolds on the enormous videoboards in each corner of New Meadowlands Stadium, one thing can be said definitively: A good time is being had by all who are attending the Jets’ annual Draft Day Party.

The party continues for Green & White fans on the east side of their team’s one-year-old home, with a crowd of 3,500 coming out into the stands onto the turf where their heroes perform during the season on Sunday afternoons and, increasingly, on selected Sunday and Monday nights.

“This is great, what the Jets do for families here,” said Rich, a father from nearby Secaucus whose children took part in an “NFL Combine” featuring a 40-yard dash, broad jump and field goal kick among the Jets Fest inflatables. “My kids had a great time playing on the same field Darrelle Revis plays on.”

The North Jersey weather, which was as turbulent earlier in the day as the first round is tonight, has also been agreeable. After tornado warnings and heavy storms throughout the day, the clouds departed in time for the fans to enter the stadium. Tonight it’s been humid but winds have been helping to keep things enjoyable.

The party, presented by the New York Daily News, Pepsi Max, Toyota and Verizon, had several other attractions. Bob Wischusen, the radio voice of the Jets, hosted a predraft program live on ESPN 1050 from 7-8 p.m. on the Bud Light Stage with Greg Buttle. Buttle was joined by fellow Jets alumni Wesley Walker, Bruce Harper and Bobby Jackson, all of whom spent time with the partygoers, signing autographs and posing for photos.

Jets owner Woody Johnson also was on hand early to great the early arrivers before departing for the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, where he joined GM Mike Tannenbaum, head coach before coming to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center for the Jets’ pick, around 8:30, was at the stadium with fans at the party.

“The party was terrific,” said Wischusen. “The different experiences Jets fans were able to enjoy made it completely different than years past, and that’s what the stadium offers. In addition to eating, drinking and watching the draft, families can go on the field, play on the inflatables and go in the Jets locker room. There’s so much more to do. I think people really enjoyed it.”

Rex’s Book Signing Itinerary

Following are the dates, times and bookstores at which fans can have a copy of Rex Ryan’s new book, “Play Like You Mean It: Passion, Laughs, and Leadership in the World’s Most Beautiful Game,” signed by the Jets head coach next week:

Tuesday, May 3, noon-2 p.m.

Barnes & Noble, 555 Fifth Ave. at 46th St., New York, NY 10017. Phone: 212-697-3048

Wednesday, May 4, 7-9 p.m.

Book Revue, 313 New York Ave, Huntington, NY 11743. Phone: 631-271-1442

Thursday, May 5, 7-9 p.m.

Mendham Books, 84 East Main St., Mendham, NJ 07945. Phone: 973-543-4949


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Former Jets D-Coordinator Joe Gardi Mourned

Posted by Randy Lange on June 4, 2010 – 11:00 am

The Jets this year have lost another key contributor to their past. It has been reported that Joe Gardi died Wednesday at the age of 71.

Gardi, a Jets assistant coach from 1976-84, passed away due to complications from a stroke, his son, David, told Newsday.

Gardi had many connections to the Jets over the years. He joined the Green & White in 1976 as special teams coach, added the linebackers to his areas of responsibility in 1980, then became defensive coordinator in the New York Sack Exchange era in 1981 and added assistant head coach under Joe Walton to his résumé for 1983-84.

"Joe was a big part of our lives," Joe Klecko told newyorkjets.com this morning. "He had a vibrant attitude toward everything. He was liked by everybody. I don’t think he had an enemy on the team because of the way he handled things."

In particular, Klecko remembered the way Gardi handled his D-coordinator role helped the Sack Exchange achieve greatness, beginning with the franchise-record 66 sacks registered in ’81.

"He recognized what we had in our four-man front there," Klecko recalled. "A lot of coaches try to corral your enthusiasm, but he let us play and it showed."

"Joe’s the one who gave me the opportunity to play," Bruce Harper said this afternoon, reflecting back to his rookie season in 1977. "He came down to Kutztown and signed me, and he was really the one who gave me the fair shot. The only way I was going to make the team was through special teams and he was the special teams coach. I actually pulled a muscle the first week of training camp and he insisted that Walt Michaels keep me on instead of sending me home.

"Joe deserves a great tribute. He was really great to everybody."

Gardi became assistant supervisor of NFL officials from 1985-90 before returning to the coaching ranks as the head coach at Hofstra. He guided the then-Flying Dutchmen from Division III to Division I-AA and in the process coached legendary Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet through his senior year on the Long Island campus in 1994.

"Coach Gardi was all about giving people opportunities. He gave me an opportunity,” Chrebet told Newsday, echoing Harper’s memories from some 15 seasons earlier. "He believed in me and helped me to the career I ended up having."

Gardi retired from Hofstra after the 2005 season with a 119-62-2 record and six NCAA playoff appearances, five coming after the Pride made the move up to the Football Championship Subdivision. Gardi, who would occasionally come across Hempstead Turnpike from Hofstra’s football offices to check up on the Jets, also coached Saints WR Marques Colston and Raheem Morris, now in his second year as the Buccaneers’ head coach.

Gardi was a football man through and through who rose through the gridiron ranks. After playing his high school ball at Harrison, N.J., and his college ball at Maryland, he began his coaching career as a New Jersey high school coach at Oratory Prep in Summit, then moved to Roselle Park High.

He returned to Maryland as an assistant, then joined the staff of the Philadelphia Bell of the World Football League in 1975. He spent three games as the head coach of the Portland Thunder before the WFL folded in ’76, then came aboard the Jets.

As special teams coach he worked with Harper, one of the NFL’s top kickoff and punt returners in the late Seventies. And during his four seasons as coordinator, his defenses were an NFL top-10 unit (fifth in yards allowed and eight in points allowed in 1981, sixth in yardage and 10th in points in 1982) in the two playoff seasons during the Sack Exchange’s heyday.

The Jets and we at newyorkjets.com offer our condolences to the Gardi family.


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Tee It Up to Help Harper’s Heroes & Cool Kids

Posted by Randy Lange on May 11, 2010 – 12:01 pm

Bruce Harper is a giving and forgiving kind of guy. Harper, the former Jets running back, lost his franchise single-season all-purpose-yardage record set in 1978 to Leon Washington in 2008, but he still was chagrined to see Washington leave in a trade with Seattle during last month’s draft. Yet he still remains a big fan of the facelifting his former team has done at his former position.

"I know it’s old hat now, but I was so disappointed Leon had to go to the next team," Harper told me before heading out to the first tee at a local golfcourse Monday. "He reminded me of myself.

"But business is business. I am excited about LaDainian Tomlinson. He is a great back and anytime you go to another team, you’ve got to prove yourself all over again. I think he’s going to come in like a hungry rookie wanting to show his wares.

"And Shonn Greene is hungry, too, man. He had a great season last year. We saw a lot of potential. There’s no reason to think he can’t come out and do the same thing. He wants it. You can tell he wants it."

Harper also has his eye on another Jet in the backfield, now third-year man Danny Woodhead.

"I like Danny, too," he said. "I saw him at practice and I was impressed. I’m rooting for him."

It must have something to do with players who come in at under 5’10" but whose hearts are off the charts.

As for the current team, said the man who once blurred by in his green and white No. 42 jersey, "They just give you the feeling they want to win and they want to win right now.".

We could have talk to Bruce about the Jets all morning, but there was that round of golf and then it was back to his full-time job these days, which is tending to the growing popularity of the Heroes & Cool Kids school mentoring program that he started in the late Nineties.

"We have former pro athletes like me, former college athletes, and we go into the high schools and ask them to select 30 ‘Good Kids,’ " Harper explained. "We have a curriculum book we work through. We train them to be mentors to fifth- and sixth-grade kids. And then they actually go back to the elementary schools they came from."

Having started with three schools in the 1998-99 school year, the program, which focuses on lifeskills learned through sports, sportsmanship/civility and substance abuse prevention, is now in 50 school districts. Five more districts are set to join up in the fall and the plans are to expand into New York’s Rockland and Westchester counties.

"This is our 12th year and this year we’ve worked with 17,000 students, high school and elementary school kids," he said. "I feel real good about what we’ve been able to accomplish."

He’s not alone. In February, Bergen County executive Dennis McNerney presented commendations to Heroes & Cool Kids as the county’s Organization of the Year and to Harper as its Person of the Year.

To keep H&KC going and growing, the group holds its primary fundraiser every summer — not surprisingly — on the links. The eighth annual Bruce Harper’s Heroes & Cool Kids Golf Invitational is set for June 28 at the Edgewood Country Club in River Vale, N.J. Registration and brunch begin at 9 a.m. followed by a shotgun start to the tourney at 11.

You can call 201-641-0699 or email pros@heroesandcoolkids.org to become a celebrity guest or to get more information. And if you can make the event, you’ll be assisting the former Jets star back and kick returner and current "Hero" and good guy who says of this enterprise, "It’s just a little thing I do trying to help out."


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Seven Jets Alums Take In Today’s Practice

Posted by Randy Lange on May 19, 2009 – 5:45 pm

The Jets held their second OTA practice of the week today. Again it was closed to reporters, but we heard through the grapevine that Kellen Clemens and Mark Sanchez both threw the ball well today. No big news flash there.

Wednesday is a lifting/recovery day, no practice. Then we’ll know more Thursday, when the doors of the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center are thrown open to print, TV and radio reporters plus a few TV cameras and still photographers.

We can pass on some alumni news Seven former Jets showed up for today’s practice. Three of them were backs and receivers who would’ve liked to go back in time to catch a few passes today while four were guys who like to take the ball away from offenses.

And three of those seven all happened to wear the uniform No. 42 in Green & White as captured in the accompanying photo. CB John Booty (left), Super Bowl corner Randy Beverly and multi-back Bruce Harper are all shown pointing to their uni number on the wall holding all the franchise’s players by numbers inside the training facility.

Six of the seven, representing four decades of Jets football, also gathered with Jets head coach Rex Ryan before practice. From the left we have LB Chad Cascadden (1995-98), Beverly (’67-69), Booty (’88-90), Ryan, S Erik McMillan (’88-92), Harper (’77-84) and TE Billy Griggs (’85-89). Not in the photo but also at the practice was TE Fred Baxter (1993-2000), squeaking through to represent the new miillennium at today’s gathering.

The photos were snapped by VIP guest Bill Denk. Thanks for passing the images on, Bill.


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Recalling Four Upsets of Decades Past

Posted by Randy Lange on November 17, 2007 – 2:49 pm

There is one positive, albeit esoteric, streak the Jets would like to extend Sunday against Pittsburgh, and it is this: For the fifth consecutive decade, they would like to defeat an opponent that entered the game with a record at least six wins better than the Jets.

I can hear you now: Grasping at straws, Lange. But it gives me a chance to dive into my historical spreadsheets for you, and at the same time subtly provide a few reasons to believe the Jets (1-8) can knock off the tough-as-nails Steelers (7-2).

It is true that exactly once each in the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties and Nineties, the Jets stunned such a superlative foe. (They’ve also lost 14 other games vs. six-wins-better challengers over the years.) Three of the four once-in-a-decade upsets came at home (although none was played at the Meadowlands) and all four opponents were handed their unexpected defeats on their way to playoff berths.

Dec. 19, 1965 — JETS 14, Buffalo 12 (at Shea Stadium)

In the last game of Joe Namath’s rookie season, he and the Jets (4-8-1) had a surprise for the visiting Bills, who came in at 10-2-1 and a week later would blank the Chargers for the ’65 AFL title. Joe Willie hit Don Maynard with a 19-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and a 36-yarder in the third to keep ahead of Buffalo, which stayed close on two Charley Warner TDs but failed on a pair of two-point conversion tries.

Nov. 29, 1970 — JETS 20, Minnesota 10 (at Shea Stadium)

The Vikings, who came to New York at 9-1, lost only once over their last 11 regular-season games en route to the first-ever NFC Central title, and it was to the injury-riddled Jets (3-7), two seasons removed from their Super Bowl triumph but still feisty. They never trailed the Vikes as George Nock ran for one touchdown, George Sauer caught a TD strike from Al Woodall for another and Jim Turner hit two field goals.

Nov. 23, 1980 — JETS 31, Houston 28, OT (at Shea Stadium)

This was supposed to be the Jets’ year. Instead, they opened 0-5 and never recovered. When the 8-3 Oilers came to Shea, the 2-9 Jets opened with a bang — a Ken Schroy INT-return TD that got them started on a 21-0 lead that they took into the fourth quarter. The Oilers struck back with four TD strikes by Ken Stabler, the last two to former Jet Rich Caster. But Bruce Harper’s scoring catch from Richard Todd helped get the game to overtime, from where Pat Leahy pulled it out with a 38-yard FG.

Dec. 6, 1992 — Jets 24, BUFFALO 17 (at Rich Stadium)

Another season gone horribly wrong as the Jets struggled to western New York with a 3-9 record one week after DE Dennis Byrd was paralyzed to take on the 9-3 Bills. Something uplifting happened in the second half this day as Brad Baxter ran for two third-quarter touchdowns to give the visitors a 17-10 lead. Then after Jim Kelly-to-Pete Metzelaars tied it, safety Brian Washington broke the tie on a 23-yard INT-return score with 1:41 to play.

Who will be the heroes and what will be the particulars of an upset of the Steelers? That chapter remains to be written, but if the Jets kick off their return from their bye week with a Sunday stunner, they’ll get to try to repeat the feat four days later when they travel to Dallas for a Thanksgiving game against the Cowboys, who will be 9-1 or 8-2 after playing the Redskins.


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