Jump to content

(8/7) Tom Rock: Making believe feels real

Sperm Edwards

Recommended Posts

Making believe feels real

Mangini re-creates game atmosphere at empty Giants Stadium


Newsday Staff Writer

August 7, 2006

What if they played an NFL game and no one showed up? The Jets found out yesterday, mimicking the big-picture environment as well as the minutiae of a game-day experience with a closed workout at an otherwise empty Meadowlands.

Every detail was accounted for as first-year Jets coach Eric Mangini staged the ultimate dress rehearsal for his team, which was split into green and white. Monk couldn't have done a more precise re-creation.

"Everything with this trip is exactly like a game, from the itinerary to the pregame meal to coaches meetings to the rookie and first-year player meeting," Mangini said. "You name it."

A pregame stretch? Check. Player introductions on the video board? Check, though to whom they were being introduced remains a mystery. Television timeouts? Stat crews? A full officiating crew? The national anthem? Checks across the board.

The coaching staff wore game ensembles, with coaches for the white team wearing their white tops and green coaches donning green golf shirts. Mangini wore a neutral black pullover. No one threw a red flag, but it would have been interesting to see if instant replay rules were in effect.

"It was kind of weird," running back Derrick Blaylock said of the surreal surroundings.

Even the postgame news conference and media access to the locker room replicated a typical Sunday in the fall.

"When your complex is not right next to your stadium, I think it's a great idea to come out here and really get acclimated to the stadium even when you've been here for seven years," quarterback Chad Pennington said. "Your first time is a little different because you're out of your comfort zone. It was a great experience to come out and practice in our stadium, to get a feel for what the Meadowlands is like."

The idea also was to acquaint rookies with an NFL environment. They seemed impressed.

"It's not the biggest stadium I've played in," said rookie center Nick Mangold, who played at Ohio State, "but the fact that it's an NFL stadium is neat."

Rookie quarterback Kellen Clemens gave the stadium a thumbs-up on his first visit. "The locker room is gorgeous," he said, "and the seating, the fans are right on top of you."

Clemens said he played for Oregon at a few NFL stadiums and at the Rose Bowl. "There's definitely a different feeling," he said.

"This was about as close to a real game as you can get," guard Pete Kendall said. "At one point, the guys looked over at me and said, 'Even the old man is smiling.'"

The first half of the scrimmage was played like a game - the Green team, which had the first-team offense, won, 6-3, on Mike Nugent's field goals. The second half focused more on situations Mangini had scripted.

The Green team won the overall competition, 3-1, based on the Mangini Modified Scoring System. With five available points for various accomplishments, the first team to three won.

"It was a good experience, especially for me," said linebacker Eric Barton, who was sidelined most of last season with injuries. Barton, like most of the players, said he had never experienced anything like yesterday's event.

Because it won, the Green team received a few perks. There was a hot barbecue dinner and a movie on the bus rather than cold sandwiches and a silent drive for the white team.

"I figured there'd be a reward for winning, like there is in every game," said Barton, who played on the white team. "The winner gets the spoils and the loser gets what we get, nothing."

As for Mangini, he seemed happy with the exercise. "I think the Jets won," he said, "and I'm celebrating the victory."

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...