February 18, 2018

Book Review: Tales from the New York Jets Sideline

The Jets are 2-0 with a +32 differential heading into Week 3. Does that mean they are headed toward relatively foreign territory? Or does it set their fans up to be “tortured, teased and tantalized” like Mark Cannizzaro writes in Tales from the New York Jets Sideline?

Jets fans have seen it all, a sprinkling of success notwithstanding. This week, let’s look at the players, coaches and fans of New York Jets lore.

Read this book because:

1. While Bruce Coslet, Rich Kotite and Bill Belichick might leave you going “huh?” Bill Parcells and Rex Ryan remind you that there’s reason to hope.

It was 1990. The Jets had just suffered a 30-7 setback to Buffalo. Rather than say nothing at the postgame press conference, Coslet decided to say next to nothing via a postgame teleconference in his office. Coslet said that because the Buffalo game was a Monday night contest, he had to start gameplanning as soon as possible. Also that year, Coslet closed the press room doors and asked the media to turn off tape recorders. We’re still talking about it without the aid of recorders 20 years later.

Rich Kotite’s boys of ’95 remind one of President Andrew Jackson’s jolly and sometimes juvenile bunch. Kotite brought his buddies on board, and tales of suds are part of his staff’s legacy today.

Bill Belichick didn’t even get through his Jets introductory press conference before he bolted for the Pats. A handwritten note on crumpled paper said it all: Belichick was resigning “as h.c. of the n.y.j.” (97, Tales)

Bill Parcells didn’t stay long, but he did take a 1-15 team to the brink of the Super Bowl within two seasons.

Like Belichick, Rex Ryan also left his mark at his introductory press conference. Unlike Belichick, he stayed past it. “With all the cameras and all that, I was looking for our new President back there. You know, I think we’ll get to meet him in the next couple years anyway,” Ryan said. OK, then. (180)

2. Curtis Martin can’t help but hold your attention. The same can be said for Keyshawn and Chad Pennington for different reasons.

A young Martin had just come upon his grandmother’s murder. In the midst of the unthinkable, Martin asked his mom, “If you get sick, who is going to raise me?” Somehow the two would go on. Martin grew up as a “knucklehead” before he went on to become one of the greatest Jets. Perhaps his beginnings are the reason he put Parcells in a state of disbelief. Martin’s teammates had just voted him MVP in 1999, an award Martin owed all to his mentor. (84)

Who can forget Keyshawn Johnson’s “Give Me the Damn Ball?” Not the greatest Jet of all. “I’ve never approved of talk going outside the framework of the team…” Joe Namath said. (120)

After nine wins in his last 12 games, it was hard to shake the promise of Chad Pennington. But Jets fans were shaken after Pennington was lost for the 2003 campaign.

3. Wherever the team goes, fans are there with their feedback, Herm Edwards said. No matter if that’s at the scene of an accident.

Boomer Esiason tried to take the high road and stop his car after a horrible game in 1994. Esiason saw a rear-end collision on his way home and figured he would help the woman involved. The woman was groggy but soon recognized the QB. Boomer had barely confirmed that she was OK before she said, “You guys suck. How did you lose that game?” (31)

No doubt that would be the question on my mind too. If you can identify, or if you just want a chuckle, pick up Cannizzaro’s collection.


Sam Miller is a graduate of the University of Illinois where he worked with various teams in sports information and received the Freedom Forum – NCAA Sports Journalism Scholarship for his achievements. At the University of Illinois, Miller regularly wrote feature stories about the football team. He has also served as communications intern for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate. Prior to that, he worked as a communications intern for USA Basketball and as an associate reporter for MLB.com.