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Jets fan Mike Eisenberg, former PSAL coach, enjoys internet fame for televised 1983 NFL Draft clip


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Jets fan Mike Eisenberg, former PSAL coach, enjoys internet fame for televised 1983 NFL Draft clip

“Obviously the Jets known something that, you know, the people up here don’t,” Mike Eisenberg famously told Sal Marchiano at the draft.

To New York City high school basketball fans, he’s known as the coach who took the Francis Lewis girls to the PSAL title game six times. But to frustrated Jets fans − and their provocateurs − Mike Eisenberg is the guy in the colored shirt and Afro who summed up the team’s ineptitude perfectly in a television interview during the 1983 NFL Draft.

Standing in the balcony of the New York Sheraton on April 26, 1983, Eisenberg had a perfect view as then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle broke Jets fans hearts when he announced, rather dramatically that, “The Jets take as their first-round selection, quarterback ... Ken O’Brien of California-Davis.”

O’Brien would prove to be a solid selection for someone taken as the 24th overall pick that year. But there was just one problem − one very big problem for Jets fans: Dan Marino was still on the board. Miami quickly snapped up the former University of Pittsburgh star quarterback with the No. 27 pick, and he would go on to take the Dolphins to a Super Bowl two years later and get elected into the Football Hall of Fame.

Interviewed by local sportscaster Sal Marchiano (then working for ESPN), Eisenberg − wearing a bushy mustache, a head of brown curly hair and a loud maroon, gold and white Brooklyn College coaching shirt with its buttons opened to reveal a large patch of chest hair − gave a rather optimistic assessment of Gang Green’s confusing selection.

“Obviously the Jets know something that, you know, the people up here don’t,” Eisenberg told Marchiano as the crowd around him buzzed with excitement.

The interview is included in a clip on YouTube entitled “NY Jets Draft Blunders” that has been viewed more than 1.5 million times. It was also used in the ESPN 30-for-30 documentary “Elway to Marino,” which includes outtakes of Marchiano’s interview with Eisenberg.

“I’ve gotten for 34 years now, about this time of year, all my friends, whoever I didn’t talk to all year, I get friendly digs and they say, ‘Hey, obviously the Jets didn’t know something,” says Eisenberg, now 59.

Earlier in the clip on YouTube, Eisenberg says, “Everybody said if Marino was gonna be around at that time they’d take Marino.” That comes just after footage showed him furiously writing something down on a notepad as others in the audience gasped in disbelief and raised their hands to their heads.

Eisenberg, now working as an everyday substitute in the city’s school system, was once considered one of the PSAL’s best girls basketball coaches. He took Francis Lewis to Madison Square Garden six times between 1998 and 2008, losing once to Manhattan Center and five times to former superpower Murry Bergtraum. His other claim to fame − also televised − was his expletive-filled interview on MSG after one of his players was ejected from the ’98 title game after she punched an exit sign just off the Garden floor at halftime.

Eisenberg served a two-year suspension after that incident.

But back in 1983, Eisenberg was known as an NFL draft expert. In the famous YouTube clip, he’s seen keeping track of which team drafted which player. He was also tracking his own picks since he was taking part in an NFL-sponsored contest to see who could best guess each selection. Eisenberg won the contest in 1978 and finished second in 1981. His prize in ’78: Two tickets to Super Bowl XIII between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys at the Orange Bowl.

Mike Eisenberg, once one of the top girls basketball coaches in the area, is best known for being featured in YouTube clip about Jets draft blunders.
(Byron Smith/for New York Daily News)

He took home a watch for his second-place finish in ’81 (when he watched Lawrence Taylor slip to the Giants at No.2).

“Mike Eisenberg knew more about the players than (ESPN draft expert) Mel Kiper, Jr.,” says Lee Lazarus, who went to the 1983 draft with Eisenberg and can be seen peeking over Marchiano’s shoulder during the interview.

Lazarus was one of three teens from a Jewish day camp that Eisenberg worked at the time who attended the draft with him. The two hadn’t spoken in about 30 years before Eisenberg tracked him down for this story.

Lazarus was aware of the YouTube clip and said that he and the other two campers with Eisenberg that day usually reach out to each other this time of year just because memories of that day mean so much to them.

“Throughout life, it was always that day that we reached out to each other to say, how are things,” Lazarus says. “It’s a bond that we will always have.”

Exported.;

Mike Eisenberg took Francis Lewis to Madison Square Garden six times between 1998 and 2008.

(Neil Schneider)

For the Jets, it will always be a burden that they bear. But Eisenberg is one who feels that is not fair since O’Brien did end up having a good career, tossing 124 TDs to 95 interceptions with 24,386 passing yards in nine seasons with the Jets before finishing with the Eagles in 1993. (Although it is also fair to note that 26 teams passed on Marino, including his hometown Steelers.)

“The only problem Ken O’Brien had was he wasn’t Dan Marino,” Eisenberg says. “If Dan Marino had been picked before Ken O’Brien, then people might be saying, listen, Ken O’Brien might be the second best quarterback in Jet history.”

Eisenberg has attended many drafts over the years. He saw legends like Joe Montana and Brett Favre get selected. He says from his vantage point at the Waldorf Astoria he could see the name “Phil Simms” written on the Giants draft card back in 1979 and told curious fans around him, “You’re gonna be very surprised.”

And, of course, he watched from his perch as Marino went to the Dolphins at No.27 in ’83, three picks after the Jets’ turn.

All these years later, Eisenberg has one thing to say to Jets fans who might still be angry over the team’s head-scratching selection. Don’t be so sure things would have turned out for Gang Green the way they did for the Dolphins with Marino at the helm.

It’s not just picking players, it’s developing players too. Once you pick them, you’ve got to develop them,” says Eisenberg, who was at the Sept. 21, 1986 game between the Jets and Dolphins that resulted in O’Brien’s team beating Marino’s, 51-45 in overtime. “So if you’re saying to me that Dan Marino would have been just as good a quarterback for the Jets as he was for the dolphins, eh, maybe not.”

 

:lol:

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16 minutes ago, Gas2No99 said:

It’s not just picking players, it’s developing players too. Once you pick them, you’ve got to develop them,” says Eisenberg, who was at the Sept. 21, 1986 game between the Jets and Dolphins that resulted in O’Brien’s team beating Marino’s, 51-45 in overtime. “So if you’re saying to me that Dan Marino would have been just as good a quarterback for the Jets as he was for the dolphins, eh, maybe not.”

Which has me convinced fully that the Jets will never be a legit team. EVER. As long as Woody Johnson, or ANY of that family owns the team. why WOULD they. To assume otherwise makes absolutely no sense. All that needs to be looked at is the failed stadium. It's a franchise of cowards and losers from the top down 

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10 minutes ago, Hitman Harris said:

Which has me convinced fully that the Jets will never be a legit team. EVER. As long as Woody Johnson, or ANY of that family owns the team. why WOULD they. To assume otherwise makes absolutely no sense. All that needs to be looked at is the failed stadium. It's a franchise of cowards and losers from the top down 

Yeah, I can't believe the Johnson-owned Jets didn't draft Marino nor develop O'Brien.

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2 hours ago, Hitman Harris said:

Which has me convinced fully that the Jets will never be a legit team. EVER. As long as Woody Johnson, or ANY of that family owns the team. why WOULD they. To assume otherwise makes absolutely no sense. All that needs to be looked at is the failed stadium. It's a franchise of cowards and losers from the top down 

Sad but true..... Marino on this team, like many others would not have been developed. 

We would have brought in a defensive coach, drafted safeties etc. We’ve seen this movie too many times. 

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1 hour ago, southparkcpa said:

Sad but true..... Marino on this team, like many others would not have been developed. 

We would have brought in a defensive coach, drafted safeties etc. We’ve seen this movie too many times. 

Bowles would have made Marino inactive his 1st year saying ‘Bubby Brister gives us the best chance to win!’ 

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