Examining the Jets-Long Island issue
July, 15, 2013
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com
While I was on vacation ...
The Jets announced their training-camp schedule and, in a surprise, they eliminated the annual night practice at Hofstra -- an insult to their Long Island fan base. When they left Hofstra after the 2008 preseason, the Jets promised to maintain a connection to Hofstra (their home for 40 years) and their Long Island roots. They did it in 2009 and 2010, making the bus trip to Long Island, but 2011 was rained out and 2012 was cancelled because of the presidential debate at Hofstra -- or so we were told.
The team released a statement on the decision to skip Hofstra, saying, "Although our plans did not materialize this year, it is nonetheless an ongoing priority for us" -- meaning hosting events and practices on Long Island and Queens. The statement didn't say why it didn't happen this year; a team spokesman declined to elaborate. Over the years, I've heard coaches and players call it an inconvenience, a disruption to the training-camp regimen.
Personally, I think it's a small price to pay. For many fans, this was their only chance to see the Jets in training camp. Upstate Cortland is at least four hours from Long Island, and Florham Park, N.J., where they will hold an open practice Aug. 21, is a two-bridge commute. Some Long Island-based fans are upset. One of the fan web sites, JetsInsider.com, organized a online petition that produced nearly 200 signatures from folks that want to see the team on Long Island, if only for a cameo appearance.
It's not like the Jets are unwanted. Stony Brook University, about 35 miles east of Hofstra, is also willing to host them for a practice this summer, according to Jim Fiore, the school's director of athletics. Stony Brook has upgraded its facilities in recent years and would be a terrific, fan-friendly location. If it's too late for this training camp, it's something to consider down the road. The school would love to be part of the Jets' future. The team's contract with Cortland expires this year, it should be noted.
A goodwill trip to Long Island would be a nice PR move at a time when the the Jets could use the positive publicity. Here's an idea: Buy a bull and turn him loose on the field. That would surely attract Rex Ryan.