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Saturday, December 18, 2010

NY Jets #22 - Danny Woodhead's Revenge

I wasn't paying attention when Danny Woodhead was waived in September 2010, probably because I believed too firmly, too calmly in a lot of big things and big ideas. The Jets were picked by their own coach to "lead the league in fucking wins." And to be honest, I don't really remember if he was wearing #22 or #83 by then. I know he wore both; I just never believed that when Rex Ryan said he loved Danny Woodhead as much as he did that he would ever let him go, only to be snapped up by the Jets' biggest rival. Danny Woodhead is exactly the spiritual core the Jets lack as they hurtle toward the abyss in the 2010 season. Before the game with the Steelers in Week 15, I predicted that they would lose every remaining game of the season and that Rex Ryan will be fired by year's end. When they beat the Steelers, I felt a brief measure of relief. But we should have kept Danny Woodhead. As a fairly effective rusher way second on the New England Patriots to Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Danny (I find it difficult to refer to a short man by his last name; that's wrong of me, obviously) will finish the year with the Pats and will appear on their roster next year. He will go to the playoffs; he may win a Super Bowl; he will finish better than Rex Ryan. Though he seems like an awfully nice boy, he will have his revenge.

Danny Woodhead is the talisman the Jets gave away. He's not a premier talent like ones on defense we have given away, like John Abrahams (#'s 94, 56) or James Farrior and Jonathan Vilma (both #51). Imagine a linebacking core like that going against rapist Ben Roethelsberger this weekend. Woodhead is not a shaman. By the looks of it, he is the simple yet talented kid out of Nebraska who tries to sell is own jersey in the big city without a single person recognizing his face. He is exactly what Rex Ryan is not, which is why he might have been magic for a team whose profile has superseded its courage. I talked about his talent when we chatted about #35, which was also one of Danny Woodhead's numbers, just after he was drafted by Mangini, just before he blew out his knee in his first professional training camp. I hadn't been buying the hatred dispensed by New York's snootier outfits this season, with their claims that the Jets' hubris would eventually undo them, but now clearly the haters would appear to have been understating the calamity. Danny Woodhead would never have prevented all of this from happening had he stayed with the Jets; his departure was simply an indication of which the way the wind would blow.

As davidhill points out, though, he left the Jets wearing #27. I have no memory of that, but I believe it. That's how konked out I've been by this season's promises.

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Do you have a brother like Tank Carter? Tyrone Carter does. Though he played for the Jets in #22 during a single season of 2003, Tyrone has been playing for the Steelers since 2004, and as was widely reported after Super Bowl XL, Tank attended his brother's big game instead showing up to serve a prison sentence of six months. Lucky that the Steelers won because once he was apprehended, Tank's sentence was extended four and a half years. So I ask you again. My brother would probably not request that of me. I'm assuming here that I'm the one going to jail.

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According to the NFL Players Association, the average career of an NFL player is 3.5 years. As far as I know, only a few American careers are comparable in this sense of their raw attrition. Teaching is comparable. Public school teaching has a burnout rate from the front end of about five years. Number 22 Mike Dennis ended his season with the New York Jets in 1984 after the duration of five seasons in the NFL. So your next rational question is what can Mike Dennis' career teach us about the demands of an average American's professional life? Well might you ask. Well. Might. You. Ask. Or are you better off studying the work of #22 Sean Dykes (no relation to #28 Donald Dykes) whose claim to fame was six games in the strike-ridden 1987 season and, according to the Jets database, "selling Mazdas in the off-season, during his time with the Jets," which in itself is a bit of a paradoxical state of being? No.

Or a viciously cruel state of being. When I played Pee Wee football, I played on a team whose record was 0-6-1. When I played AYSO on Long Island, our soccer team won zero games. My two Little League baseball teams each won one game apiece all season. Was it something I did or said? Was my hangdog look infectious? After all, I was the least effectual member of all of these teams, the player whom the coach looked at with the same disgruntled expression I gave to the kid who told me today that she couldn't answer any of the quiz questions on the chapters of Catcher in the Rye that I had read in class yesterday because she hadn't read the two chapters the two days before before them. Why do I fucking bother? Carl Greenwood played in #22 at cornerback for the New York Jets during the 1995 and 1996 seasons, in which the Jets won all of four football games. He might have asked himself the same question, though that's at least a better record than my years in Long Island sports.

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A saga involving #24 spilled over onto #22. Ty Law was once a #24, but then wore #22 for the brief period he was brought in for the 2008 season once Jesse Chatman was deactivated for the away Patriots game. Ty Law was always an on-again-off-again prodigal son for Those Of Whom We Do Not Speak. I don't expect Danny Woodhead to return to the Jets anytime soon, but the fierce rivalry between the two teams had its crescendo in Danny Woodhead getting plenty of playing time in the 2010 Tea Party-sized shellacking the Patriots did of the Jets at Foxboro. Activate a rival's former player before the big showdown with the rival. It worked for Danny Woodhead, but Ty Law's career is now officially done. It didn't work in 2008, but then not much did that year.

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I've been trying to figure out what to say about wide receiver Nick Bruckner, aside from the fact that he was actually from Astoria, Queens. At 5'11", he was a little foreshadowing of Wayne Chrebet, though a little taller. Ah, I know. The reason why we mention him is because he wore #86 in 1983, #83 in 1985 and #22 in 1985 - three numbers in three years. The final change was indicative of a demotion for a wide receiver.

Not unlike Kenny Lewis who, according to the Jets database, wore #24 in 1980 and the #20 in 1981. Then he was #22 in 1983. Is this the fate of special teams, the "Help" of professional football?

My father always told me that Jim Hudson was the most fiery member of the 1968 team. Dad probably got that idea because Hudson got thrown out of the Heidi Game, which must have meant he was a badass because that is one of the most penalized games in AFL history. In the AFL Championship Game, we see him narrowly miss out on an interception, and he pounds the turf so angrily that he looks like an infuriated adolescent unable to control the connection between his still immature frontal lobe and his fist. But most importantly, #22 Jim Hudson got in front of the pass that should have gone to Jimmy Orr but went instead to Jerry Hill in Super Bowl III. This was, perhaps, the most important defensive play of the most important game in New York Jets history.

2 comments:

davidvill said...

Hey Martin, Woodhead was #27 when he left. He got a multiyear extension with NE a few weeks ago so we'll be seeing him for years to come.

Anonymous said...

I see you are not a fan of Rex Ryan. All brash talk aside, I think he may be the best coach the Jets have had since Walt Michaels, maybe Weeb Ewbank. That might be more of an indictment on 40 years of losing football than a ringing endorsement of Ryan. Anyway, good blog, keep up the good work!