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More Hard Hitting Jet Coverage From The NYT

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Boom_70, Jan 18, 2007.

  1. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Executive Pursuits
    My Father Was a New York Jet, and I Don’t Give a Darn
    I WOKE up my 9-year-old son, Harrison, on New Year’s Eve morning with a gentle nudge, a chocolate doughnut and a pair of media credentials for the New York Jets’ final regular-season game. Harrison had recently suffered a nasty bout with pneumonia, and although the doctor said his lungs had mostly cleared, he coughed as he blinked open his eyes.

    “What time is it?” he asked.

    “Eight-ten,” I replied. “We’re on the road in 20 minutes.”

    Harrison groaned. “Dad, I really don’t want to go.”

    I patted him on the back, pondering a familiar parental quandary. Harrison was neither an avid athlete nor a pro football fan. That was fine with me. But like many 9-year-olds, he was also reluctant to try virtually any new experience, which was not so fine.

    The new experience at hand was of the once-in-a-lifetime variety. Several weeks earlier, I had written a series of columns about running three plays at quarterback in a New York Jets intrasquad scrimmage. The team had since won five of its last seven games, and was now only one more win away from making the playoffs.

    Evidently figuring I was some kind of weak-armed lucky charm, the Jets had invited me to their make-or-break battle against the Oakland Raiders. I’d managed to bargain an extra pass for Harrison. Along with providing two press box seats, our media credentials entitled us to postgame access to the Jets locker room.

    I knew this was an executive pursuit most father-and-son fan tandems would give their eyeteeth to go on. I had a rare opportunity to make the grandest of grand gestures, a chance to offer my son a truly unique and unforgettable sporting experience.

    Harrison looked up at me, frowning. I was dressed in gray flannel slacks, a white turtle neck, and the red jersey with the number “0” I had worn during my brief quarterbacking stint with the Jets.

    “Dad, take that off!” Harrison demanded, pointing at my jersey.

    “Can’t,” I replied.

    We spent most of the two-hour drive from Sag Harbor, N.Y., to East Rutherford, N.J., in total wordlessness. Harrison played with his GameBoy. I stared out the windshield wondering whether or not I should be taking him out of the house at all. As we approached the George Washington Bridge, a silver S.U.V. plastered with Jets decals hurtled past. I tapped Harrison on the knee, and pointed at it.

    “Cool,” he muttered without glancing up from GameBoy.

    When we arrived at the Meadowlands, the vast parking lot was already half filled with tailgaters basking in the unseasonably warm December sun. As it happened, we entered the stadium through a tunnel that led to the playing field. A yellow-jacketed security guard stood sentinel beside a chain slung across the mouth of the tunnel. He grinned at Harrison, and pulled back the chain. I started for the edge of the artificial turf, only to feel Harrison dig in his heels.

    “Don’t you want to see what it looks like if you’re a player?” I asked.

    Harrison shook his head. “It’s just a football field, Dad,” he sighed.

    We took the elevator up to the press box. Our assigned seats were on the front row next to the plate glass windows. Several of the Jets were out on the field warming up in sweatsuits. I pointed to the ones I’d met during the intrasquad scrimmage. Harrison slumped over, yawning.

    By the time the two teams lined up for the kickoff, the stadium was filled to capacity with Jets fans waving white towels. Gang Green methodically built up a 10-3 lead over the Raiders. I fetched two boxes of popcorn. Harrison gobbled his box and half of mine. Then he slumped over again. “Football is boring,” he declared.

    At halftime, we were escorted to the private box of the team owner, Woody Johnson. Mr. Johnson introduced us to George Pataki, who was spending his final day as governor of New York at the game. Governor Pataki’s daughter Emily asked Harrison if he was a football player. “No,” he mumbled. “I play soccer.”

    I shrugged, blushing. Emily giggled sympathetically. Mr. Johnson’s silver-haired mother, Betty Wold Johnson, turned around in her seat and handed Harrison a Jets lapel pin. “Just in case you change your mind,” she said.

    The moment she turned back around, Harrison slipped the lapel pin into the pocket of my overcoat. I fetched him a hamburger from the buffet table. He ate half of it, and pulled up the hood of his sweatshirt. I asked if he was cold.

    “No, Dad,” he replied, snuggling against my chest. “I’m fine.”

  2. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    In the second half, the Jets surged to an insurmountable 23-to-3 lead, ensuring themselves a berth in the playoffs. Mr. Johnson, his mother, Governor Pataki, Emily, and everyone else in the box were jubilant except for Harrison, who kept yawning and fidgeting with the hood of his sweatshirt.

    At the two-minute warning, Harrison and I took the nearest elevator down to ground level. By the time we reached the hallway in front of the Jets’ locker room, the game was over, and the players were streaming in from the field. I told Harrison that we should go inside and congratulate them.

    “No, no, no,” he protested. “I don’t want to.”

    I noticed a yellow-jacketed security guard eavesdropping on our exchange. I asked if he would look after Harrison. The security guard nodded, and I plunged through the locker room door all by myself.

    To my surprise, the players weren’t dancing around and spraying each other with bottles of Champagne. Instead, they were calmly taking off their uniforms, showering, toweling and dressing in street clothes as if this had been just another day at the office. They welcomed me like I was an honorary member of the team, giving me high fives, knocking fists, and initialing the number “0” on my red jersey with a black marker.

    Elated, I rushed back out to the hallway, and lifted Harrison up in my arms.

    “All the Jets are happy to see Daddy,” I said. “And they want to meet you, too.”

    Harrison groaned. “I don’t want to go in there.”

    “Aw, come on,” I insisted. “Just for a minute.”

    “No! I’ve waited long enough!” Harrison shrieked, his eyes welling with tears.

    Moments later, we climbed inside our car, and proceeded to get stuck in a humongous traffic jam. It took an hour just to get from the Meadowlands to the George Washington Bridge. Along the way, Harrison coughed, shivered, and fell asleep with his head against the window. I put my palm on his forehead. It felt fairly cool, but I felt a lump in my throat. I was sure he was suffering a relapse. And it was all my fault.

    I finally pulled into the driveway of our Sag Harbor home at 7:30 p.m., 11 hours after our ill-fated football trip had begun. Harrison was still asleep. I carried him upstairs to his bed, and tucked him under the covers. His forehead was still cool, but now I was feeling a little feverish. I fell asleep wondering if my son would resent me for the rest of his life.

    The next thing I knew, Harrison was tugging on my arm, flashing a dimpled grin and glowing with health.

    “Happy New Year, Dad!” he chirped.

    I winced with a combination of relief and shame at the light streaming through the bedroom window. I apologized for the debacle of the day before, and implored Harrison to help me make it right. I offered to take him to Yankee Stadium, to Shea Stadium, to Madison Square Garden, to the National Tennis Center. Harrison declined all of them. I hung my head in dismay.

    “But there is one thing, Dad,” he allowed.

    “Tell me,” I begged, “please.”

    Harrison flashed another dimpled grin. “You could take me to a soccer game in Brazil,” he said.
  3. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    I have to believe that somewhere, someone is wishing he didn't mention those media credentials.
  4. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    I'm flashing my own dimpled grin imagining some spoiled asshole kid from Sag Harbor amidst 200,000 Brazilian soccer fans.

    But I'll bet Gopnik likes this story.
  5. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    I was wondering about that. Seems like a bit of misuse of said credentials.

    Makes you wonder if Jets were so accomidating because of the favorable treatment they have received from the Times.
  6. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    To be fair, Boom, a week or so after you did your first "Jets Feel Good Coverage" thread, the Times had a super-feel-good on Jay "Touchy" Feely and his stint hosting Cold Pizza.

    It was written by a man.

    I wanted to post it but never got around to it.
  7. 21

    21 Well-Known Member


  8. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    Goodness, at least Crouse's stuff is interesting feel-good.

    Yes, that was the one.
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