Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jetskins We Have Known

Before and After:

Harry Frazee sold his best Red Sox players to the Yankees, most especially a rotund extrovert who was both a pitching and hitting prodigy. The early 1980's success of the Chicago Cubs (well, 1984) could be traced to several notable greats from Philadelphia, just as the Phillies' 1983 wheezers were composed of several members of the once indomitable Big Red Machine. See where I'm going? No? Well, no, I suppose not.

According to my research (all two minutes, online) a "Jetskin" is a manufactured Lycra garment that provides travel comfort and works to prevent deep vein thrombosis. It also helps slow the onset of jet lag. It's also the term we use to describe Jets players that have jumped or been dealt to the Washington Redskins, especially over the past five years.

We bring this issue up because Pete Kendall is the most recent departure to Washington, and I for one am a little sad to see him go. Remember that Kendall said he was promised an extra million by Eric Mangini for mentoring both D'Brickshaw Ferguson and Nick Manggold, which he did to great effect. At training camp, he is seen physically separating himself from the same young fellows whom he tutored. He did not see himself as a Jet any longer. I will miss Iron Pete, last year's offensive captain. Anyone who's learned a skill knows how edifying it is to mentor a young colleague, yet rarely does anyone appreciate the effort - not even in the financially saturated world of pro football. Weeb Ewbank was miserly with great players like Verlon Biggs. It happens. Kendall is also 34. Jeremiah Trotter was let go by the Philadelphia Eagles this past week, guilty of being the slightly less geriatric age of 30.

For many years, the Redskins organization has been where good Jets went to go to get kind of mediocre. Santana Moss, Laveranues Coles, John Hall, Randy Thomas, Chad Morton. All good, not great. I was always flattered by the notion that whatever the Jets had in the first few years of the century, the Redskins sought it, then purchased it with the idea of earning a Super Bowl. Someone needed to tell Daniel Snyder that it's hard to win a championship with only the particular strength of former Jets. It has gone both ways; Coles is back in New York (he is better than Moss, I believe) and the Jets were for a brief time the payroll for Patrick Ramsey who was previously one of Steve Spurrier's ill-fated starting quarterbacks. Kendall joins this dubious legacy, and though Joe Gibbs is there again, the word on the street is that the Jets still got better end of the deal with draft choices in exchange for Pete.

Jetskins have fared better in the past. Verlon Biggs went to two Super Bowls, one with the Jets and one with the Redskins. John Riggins' two Super Bowls were with the Redskins and long after the Jets. So long as Riggins was on the Redskins, I gave them my heart on loan, especially when it eased the grind of a long Jets season.
I'll never forget the strange feeling of forlorn pride I felt while watching Super Bowl XVI in 1983, sort of like a forgotten parent to a now famed progeny, when Riggins broke free of the Dolphins' defense and scrambled 43 yards on fourth down inside four minutes for the go-ahead touchdown. "I always knew he could do it," I said with tears in my eyes, looking over at the tattered poster of him playing for the Jets against the Dolphins in 1972. I always did.

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