Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ten years ago today: A rant for the ages

After a week 8 loss to the Cleveland Browns in the 2002 NFL season, the New York Jets found themselves floundering with a 2-5 record. That Wednesday (October 30, ten years ago today), Jets head coach Herm Edwards took to the podium for his regularly scheduled midweek press conference. Edwards was then asked by Judy Battista of the New York Times if he had to talk to his team about not giving up on the season.

What ensued was a rant for the ages (not to mention fodder for one of myriad Coors Light commercials).

From that point on, the Jets won seven of their final nine regular season games and hosted a first round playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts. The magic continued as the Jets throttled the Colts 41-0 (what is it about 41-doughnut playoff contests at the Meadowlands?). Alas, the run would come to an end the following week in a 30-10 defeat at the hands of the eventual AFC Champions, the Oakland Raiders.

In a subplot to all of this, Indy kicker Mike Vanderjagt questioned the leadership of Colts QB Peyton Manning and first year coach Tony Dungy after the embarrassing loss to the Jets. Manning, when being interviewed by ABC sideline reporter Lynn Swann during the Pro Bowl a month later, didn't pull any punches when asked about Vanderjagt's comments.

How ironic that Manning praised Adam Vinatieri (who was with the New England Patriots in 2002) in that particular soundbite. In an odd twist, Vinatieri joined Manning and Dungy in Indianapolis in 2006, where they went on to win a Super Bowl that season. And Vanderjagt? After missing a potential game-tying kick for the Colts in a 2005 home playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was allowed to leave via free agency after that season. He then signed with the Dallas Cowboys where he was their kicker for ten games in '06 before being released due to ineffectiveness. He would never kick in the NFL again.

I guess one could surmise that Edwards' rant served to fire up his Jets club for the 2002 season as well as indirectly determining the fate of the Colts franchise.


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