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Sunday, September 2, 2007

New York Jets By The Numbers: #3

As of September 2008, #3 Jay Feely has been the Jets placekicker, in for the injured Mike Nugent. He was the fearless kicker who stared down the haters after he missed three crucial kicks for the Jints against Seattle in 2005 by using satire and, unfortunately, Dane Cook on Saturday Night Live. A mere written summary of the SNL sketch seems even more painfully unfunny than it probably was. I remember hearing somewhere that in the midst of his turbulent tenure with the Giants, Feely spoke of someday running for office. But can you name an NFL kicker who's actually been elected to political office? Name me a good Giant kicker, and I will show you a Jets kicker in waiting, Raul Allegre. I will show you fear in a handful of dust. There's no political career in that. There's never even been a Jet in Washington, minus the Jetskins, but that's an entirely different issue.

But I would strongly urge Jay Feely to consider a different day job after his mixed career in placekicking. There's his appearance on Sean Hannity's show; then there's his unsurprising Tweet on Chris Henry's death, which, to be fair he apologized for later. Still, the first Tweet is the truest, which is exactly why Twitter is fascinating and why I will also never have a Twitter account. Still, the Hannity appearance and the Tweet (am I supposed to capitalize that, by he way?) shows a consistency of mind found among a very particular kind of conservative that you meet from time to time - a person who 1) uses every possible moment to invoke what they perceive to be the "culture wars" concerning the lapsed values of irresponsible (often black) people and 2) makes an unconscious (and that's being generous) irresponsible joke which he then takes back, often citing the politically incorrect sensibilities of "sensitive" people. I'll be glad when Jay Feely no longer wears a Jet uniform. UPDATE: 3/10 - GONE.

Boston College grad Tom O’Connor crossed a picket line of angry Jets during the 1987 strike to take someone else's spot, punting for three games. Duane Carrell punted for the '76 and '77 squads. Each man probably played for a team of equal caliber. Each wore, for however long, the #3. The magic number. Yes it is. According to the Jets website, Duane hit a 72 yard punt in 1976 against San Francisco - a 17-6 loss, by the way. At that time, his punt was the third longest in Jets history. Remember the Jets have the longest in NFL history, but that comes many numbers from now.

While we were sitting there watching the Niners game on TV from Candlestick, Dad was making various sounds of displeasure, using the Jets weak offense as the foundation for what would prove to be a cleverly crafted argument in favor of abandoning his season tickets, and with it, the Jets. Had I been more aware of his secret agenda, I might have used Duane Carrell's 72 yard punt as counter-evidence. But then who uses a punt as evidence of anything other than whether or not his team has a good punter?

Bobby Howfield was the first soccer-style kicker the Jets ever had. I once had a drunken discussion in a bar with a guy who claimed that "Bobby Howafeld" hastened the end of the AFL by jumping from the Buffalo Bills to the New York Giants in 1965. He meant Pete Gogolak, a much more famous #3. I tried to straighten out not only his information about the identity of the kickers but also the pronunciation of the actual Jet in question. Bobby Howfield was a footie player from England, not a Jewish-American walk-on from Syosset. However, I don't think I was sober enough to even try clearing that up, so I just nodded my head. Back in the 1970's, if you were born in Hungary like Gogolak or from Bristol like Howfield, football fans only knew one thing: ya fuckin kick weed.

Finally, the Phenom #3, Rick Mirer. His greatest moment would be his curse - being put on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1990 as Notre Dame's "Golden Boy." Bill Parcells' initial interest in Mirer when he coached New England lead him to obtain him in 1999 with the Jets. By that time, Rick Mirer had already flagged as a starter with Seattle and as a backup in Chicago and Green Bay. Parcells didn't have an adequate backup ready, but he called Mirer up when Vinny Testaverde went down in the wrenching Achilles heel injury in the 1999 opener against the Patriots. Mirer threw five touchdowns and nine interceptions in eight games that year; that's why when you think 1999, you think Ray Lucas at QB, not Rick Mirer. We were so desperate to believe that '99 was The Year that when we lost Vinny, we briefly believed in the Phenom ourselves. This is the kind of story a Jets fan loves, for it is yet another metaphor for our faith in a team that makes you hope well beyond hope's boundaries.

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