And what a scene it was Saturday, when
People who have a short history with this franchise were overcome by the Saturday turnout. The few old timers present who go back to the Namath era were mildly interested but not overwhelmed, because the old Joe Willie circuses could match any that have taken place since. First a bit of history. When your faithful narrator became the NY Post's beat man on the Jets, in 1966, the training camp was a hellhole in Peekskill, NY. Players filed regular protests about the food. The dinnertime staples were rock-hard hamburgers, nicknamed "sinkers," and mysterious hotdogs, and you don't want to know what they were called. Players' dorms were not air conditioned. The screens had holes. Once I saw a group of flies trying to drag a rookie cornerback out of his room. One of them said, "Better hide him before the big ones get here." Mosquitos were so big they could stand flat-footed and mate with turkeys.
And then in 1968, the Super Bowl year, nirvana! The club moved to its present summer location, Hofstra University in Hempstead, LI. Real dorms, co-ed in that first year, oboy! Namath was always finding reasons not to be in camp. The Bachelors III flap in '69, various retirements and absences and unretirements in the years following. And then, kaboom, he'd show up at camp, like a flash, and the fans and the media became a great swelling ocean. And not the kind of media we saw last Saturday. We're talking about the mod, the hip, emissaries of the Age of Aquarius. Many more women than there are nowadays, accredited magazine writers from
Favre was unremarkable as far as his accuracy or lack of same in his first workout with the team. He completed his share of shorties, hit an occasional bomb, which drew enthusiastic cheers from the fans. Rusty? Perhaps, but I don't really know because I never saw him in camp during his Packer days. Upgraded enthusiasm by his teammates, during the drills, because of the presence of a surefire Hall of Famer? I don't think the drills were any crisper than the ones
Many of the fans seemed almost mesmerized, starstruck actually, and these are some of the league's tougher ones.
"Oh my God, I've always been a Brett Favre fan," said
Still waiting for a catchy name for the club's parade of mercenaries led by Favre, big name players, most of whose careers have already crested. DT
No, I'm not going to keep flogging the Favre trade and the parade of stars. This is something to file away for future reference. In a very quiet footnote to the Favre debut,
It's a steal. It would be hard to finish up worse than 10-6, even with Chad Pennington still running the offense. The toughest part comes in the beginning -- Dolphins, Patriots, Chargers, which could start the Jets at 1-2. And while the fans are drafting their nasty letters, the team plays six straight against clubs with non-winning records last year. Time for sober reflection with Tennessee and New England next up, but the schedule eases again with a final quintet featuring four softies (Bills, Broncos and Dolphins at home, 49ers on the road) plus a tough roadie in Seattle.
The good old Hempstead Turnpike on the way home, after a frantic six hours on the superstar circuit.