Reporting Peter Schwartz
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By Peter Schwartz
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2011′s annual Jets-Giants clash was originally scheduled for Saturday night. But with the threat of Hurricane Irene looming, kickoff was moved up to 2 p.m. from its original 7 p.m. start.
However, with New York City putting a halt on mass transportation and a state of emergency called in New Jersey, all parties put their heads together and decided to postpone the game until Monday night.
It was the right thing to do in the spirit of safety for the fans and the players. Its also important to point out that the Izod Center in the Meadowlands was being used as a shelter — so to have a football game in the middle of a natural disaster would not have looked good.
Also, MetLife shelled out a lot of money for the naming rights to the stadium and to put their name on Monday night’s “MetLife Bowl.” It will look better with some fans in the stands.
I can’t imagine how many would have braved the elements on Saturday.
HAS THE LUSTER BEEN LOST?
On Monday night, the Jets and Giants will square off in East Rutherford for what will be the third preseason game for both teams. Since the starters in Week 3 typically play into the third quarter, it’s the exhibition contest that comes closest to looking like a regular season game.
Last year, they met in Week 1 in the first football game at what is now called MetLife Stadium. That game was physical, but the Week 3 contests have usually been very competitive.
This year, some of the fire might be lost — the Jets and Giants will meet in the regular season on December 24.
However, it’s still Gang Green against Big Blue, and that makes for an interesting night.
“I think it’ll be good,” said Jets head coach Rex Ryan. “I think that there will be plenty of energy in this game. Last year when we played them in the preseason, it seemed like it was a big deal. There was a lot of hitting going on and guys were getting after it.”
Adding some fuel to the fire for this year’s preseason clash is the new naming rights deal that changed the name of New Meadowlands Stadium to MetLife Stadium. The Jets and Giants were partners in building the stadium and this past week announced the 25-year naming rights deal.
However, Giants defensive end Justin Tuck seems to prefer to live in the past.
“I’m glad that MetLife came aboard as a sponsor, but to me it will always be Giants Stadium,” said Tuck.
Many probably share that view as the Giants arrived in New Jersey in 1976 with the Jets moving to old Giants Stadium in 1984. However, aside from banners, imaging, and other things that make the new stadium to specific to either the Giants or Jets on gamedays, the stadium is a partnership and the gray seats and bland exterior is proof of that.
It’s the Jets’ home as much as it is the Giants’ and they have the cancelled checks to prove it.
“It’s the Meadowlands,” said Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes. “It’s the home of the New York Jets. That’s all I have to say about that.”
That’s a pretty good quote, but Tuck made his comment on Wednesday after Rex Ryan has already held his press conference with reporters. So during Thursday night’s conference call with the media, I couldn’t help but ask Ryan what he thought of Tuck’s comments.
“He can think all he wants, but I think of it as MetLife Stadium and it’s the home of the New York Jets,” said Ryan. “I guess he can think of it that way. He’ll probably be one of the only guys that think of it that way. I certainly don’t think of it that way.”
Now back to football.
Facing the Giants is always special but the Jets do have some work to do before their regular season opener against the Cowboys at Jets Stadium… oops sorry… MetLife Stadium on Sunday night, September 11.
This will be the last opportunity for the starters to get some work in as the backups typically go the distance in the preseason finale.
“This is a good warm up for Dallas,” said quarterback Mark Sanchez. “We need to play well through half time, maybe the third quarter, but that’s the way it’s gone the last two years. You play into the third quarter and we get to work a lot of different situations, maybe another two-minute drill, hopefully a couple redzone situations and third downs, maybe goal line stuff. It’s a good opportunity for our team to rep those situations and be comfortable with them by the time we play on September 11th.”
The Jets also need to get the running game on track and the expected return of Shonn Greene should be a boost. He missed the victory over the Bengals after being diagnosed with a low-grade skin infection on his foot.
Also in that Bengals game, wide receiver Plaxico Burress made his Jets debut and had 3 catches for 66 yards including a 26-yard touchdown near the end of the first half.
On Monday night, he’ll face his former team but downplays that storyline. Instead, he chooses to view the game as what it is.
“There is not any added incentive or juice, or whatever you may call it,” said Burress who caught the game winning touchdown pass for the Giants in Super Bowl XLIV. “It’s a preseason game. I have a lot of work to do personally, as far as me getting better and contributing to this football team. I’m more concerned about me going out, just playing better and getting better as a player. I know I have a lot of personal relationships with those guys, but we’re just going to go out and have fun.”
Burress met with the Giants before signing with the Jets but said this week that was more of a way of putting closure on the 2008 incident when he shot himself in the leg at a New York City nightclub.
The 6’5” receiver spent 20 months in jail and decided that when he resumed his NFL career, it was not going to be with the Giants.
“Personally, I just think I needed a fresh start” said Burress. “If I wanted to go somewhere and get more money, I could’ve gone to a couple of more places and signed a two or three-year deal. I just wanted to put myself in a situation to go somewhere fresh and have the opportunity to play for a great organization, a great head coach in Rex and a great team. I feel like I’m in the right place. Like I said, every day we walk through this door, the object is to win a world championship. I’m happy here. I feel I’m at home. I made the right decision. I’m happy I’m just playing football.”
The Jets are pretty happy too. They had their share of red zone issues last year and he should help them in that area this season.
THE JETS-GIANTS PRESEASON SERIES
This will be the 43rd summer meeting between the Jets and the Giants. Gang Green leads the all-time preseason series 22-19 with one tie. Last summer, the Giants won the first ever football game at the new stadium beating the Jets 31-16.
The Jets have won three of the last four preseason games against the Giants with all three wins coming by eight points or less.
A BIG APPLE SHINDIG WITH THE JETS, GIANTS, AND SNOOPY
On Friday, the MetLife Fan Fair was held at Bryant Park in New York City to celebrate the announcement that the New Meadowlands Stadium is now MetLife Stadium. It was also announced that the annual pre-season clash is now called the “MetLife Bowl.” Ryan, Sanchez and cornerback Darrelle Revis were among those to represent Gang Green while head coach Tom Coughlin, quarterback Eli Manning and safety Antrel Rolle were among those to represent Big Blue.
Click here to listen to my chat with Revis and Rolle…
The winning team gets a trophy with MetLife’s mascot Snoopy on it — and they get $40,000 for a charity of their choosing. The losing team does receive $10,000 for their charity.
Fans of both teams attended the big party and were encouraged to show their colors. They were also able to get autographs and the youngest fans took part in interactive experiences with the players and PEANUTS characters including Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Lucy.
A LONG ISLAND DISAPPOINTMENT
Jets fans on Long Island were devastated when the Jets departed Hofstra University for New Jersey after training camp in 2008. Since that time, the Jets have held one practice each summer on Long Island. However, Thursday’s night’s scheduled workout at Hofstra was cancelled because of the forecast of inclement weather.
“I’m really disappointed that we couldn’t have practice on Long Island this year,” said Ryan. “It’s unfortunate, with the weather forecast we felt it was for the best to cancel practice. We obviously look forward to going back to Hofstra next year, but it’s really disappointing. (I) really was looking forward to it.”
So just like the disappointed fans in Cortland that didn’t get to see training camp this summer, Long Island Jets fans will also have to wait till 2012.
That’s all for now. Check back after Monday’s Jets-Giants game for more!
Enjoy the game!
What’s your prediction for Jets-Giants? Let us know in the comments below!