Training camp is a place where we look forward to elite talents matching up directly; The unstoppable force versus the immovable object. However, with no team drills taking place and no media on hand to report on them anyway, let’s instead take a look at a different kind of object that doesn’t move.
If we were to put together a museum with some of the most notorious inanimate objects in team history, what could we choose? Here’s our top 10 in no particular order...
Tim Tebow’s trash can
There won’t be a family night at Metlife Stadium during this year’s camp, but back in 2012, the assembled masses were “treated” to a competition between the likes of Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy and Tim Tebow as they attempted to throw a football into a trashcan from about 30 yards away. Tebow won.
In retrospect, this turned out to be a perfect allegory for the Jets’ receiver group that year.
Damien Robinson’s helmet
In 2001’s match-up with the Saints, the Jets were holding onto a 16-9 lead with just over a minute to go, but the Saints had driven down to the five-yard line and looked set to have all the momentum headed into overtime. That’s when Kyle Turley lost his mind and ripped off safety Damien Robinson’s helmet so he could do this.
The play basically saved the Jets’ season, as the Saints drive stalled following the penalty. They went to 5-3 with the win and ultimately scraped into the postseason on the final day.
Brett Favre’s shoulder pads
The Jets’ ill-advised last-minute addition of Brett Favre in 2008 basically saw the Hall of Famer use them for a year. While the team jumped out to an 8-3 start, Favre didn’t play well and they slumped to four losses out of five to miss the postseason.
If Favre’s half-hearted pep talk prior to the last game didn’t convince you that this season (and even his revenge tour in Minnesota) had more to do with the Packers than the Jets then perhaps his yellow shoulder pads - unmistakably brought with him from Green Bay - symbolized this perfectly.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ pylon
After Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ clear touchdown against the Patriots in 2017 was controversially overturned, the pylon got so much exposure it probably could have undertaken its own media tour. Pro tip: If people are still re-watching and disputing a call later in the week, then it was clearly not indisputable and therefore shouldn’t have been reversed.
The call was terrible enough without having to listen to Dean Blandino’s transparent attempts to reverse-engineer a reason not to have allowed it and Seferian-Jenkins’ own reaction said it all.
Ryan Griffin continued the proud tradition of Jets’ tight ends getting hosed by the booth last year.
Mark Sanchez’s hot dog
In terms of media controversies that got way more play than they ever should have, the Mark Sanchez hot dog “scandal” was one of the most ridiculous ever, but sums up an era where somehow the on-field product was always secondary to the extra-curricular activities.
The Jets blew out the Raiders and, at the end of the game, Sanchez took a sneaky bite of a fan’s hotdog because he was feeling hungry. That was it. Somehow this became a sign that he was disrespecting the game, his opponent and the work involved to be great at the NFL level. Of course, years later, those that made a fuss about it at the time will now say “I knew he’d never make it as soon as that happened”.
Mark Brunell’s foam bats
Throughout their ongoing efforts to turn Sanchez into a franchise quarterback, the Jets tried plenty of things. They simplified the playbook by cutting down on pre-snap motion and went with a ground-and-pound style that sought to mitigate his penchant for mistakes. At one stage, they even gave him a color coded wristband with a traffic light system, ostensibly telling him “don’t throw any interceptions unless we give you the green light to do so”.
One of their other ideas, brought in by Mark Brunell in 2010, was still being used in Sanchez’s final season in 2013. That involved hitting Sanchez with foam bats to try and get him to focus on not having the ball stripped away in the pocket.
Maybe it helped, but it didn’t exactly prepare him for being speared by Haloti Ngata.
Shaun Ellis’ snowball
While the end of the 2008 season was painful to watch, it did produce at least one memorable moment after the Jets lost to Tavaris Jackson’s Seahawks.
Ellis was eventually sued for the incident but even if he had lost it would have been worth every dime. Admittedly, it would be difficult to display a snowball in a museum, though.
Doug Brien’s crossbar
The Jets almost made it to the AFC title game in 2004 but Doug Brien missed two potential game-winners against the Steelers.
The first - a 47-yarder - clunked off the crossbar, and you knew that was playing on his mind when the Jets got back into range following a David Barrett interception. This time, after Herm Edwards’ unconscionable decision to take a knee rather than try to get it closer, Brien snatched at his 43-yarder and hooked it wide.
Sal Alosi’s kneecap
While Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi may not have had an inanimate knee, he certainly kept it as still as possible when he surreptitiously dangled it into the path of Dolphins’ gunner Nolan Carroll in the controversial 2010 “Tripgate” incident.
It later emerged that Alosi had instructed inactive players to line up together so that they’d be in the way if the gunner stepped out of bounds. While they were legally behind the restraining line, Alosi couldn’t resist sticking his knee out to trip the player. Both Alosi and the team were fined for the incident, which was yet more evidence of Rex-era craziness.
Bill Belichick’s napkin
Perhaps the most iconic inanimate object in team history was the napkin on which Bill Belichick hastily scribbled his resignation as he was set to become the Jets’ head coach after the 1999 season.
Sadly nobody seems to know what happened to that napkin. Everybody knows what happened to Belichick after his departure though.
Honorable mention: Joe Namath
We can’t end on such a depressing note though. We could probably have included a few items from Namath’s history in this list: His fur coat, the pantyhose from his famous commercial, his knee brace. And you just know that if he’d have eaten a sideline hot dog, it would have been applauded rather than decried.
However, nothing sums up Namath’s poise, swagger and ability to keep a cool head when everyone else is losing theirs than this image of stillness and calm.