Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted on Sept.
The Jets and Patriots contributed equally Tuesday to hyping their monumental clash here Monday night.
That was possible only because the Jets and their mouths took the day off, while the Patriots were on the job but applied their notorious sleeper hold on the assembled news media.
Just to make sure, Bill Belichick told his players in advance not to respond to anything that had been or would be said by the Jets this week. They listened.
The coach himself was tested on that policy when asked about something his counterpart, Rex Ryan, said to Newsday's Bob Glauber Monday: that as much as he respects the Patriots coach, "I came here to kick his ass."
As Glauber predicted, Belichick shrugged. Then he said, "That's understandable. Hey, there's no love lost out there between those two teams. We both want to win. That's what we're here for.
"Is that a news story? That's something we didn't know? The Jets want to win the game. The Patriots want to win."
Asked whether he finds Ryan's brash persona amusing, Belichick said this: "I don't worry about everybody else. I'm trying to get this team to play. I'm not surprised they expect to win and they're confident they're going to win. So are we.
"It might be a headline story for you guys, I don't know."
Actually, no one ever quite confirmed that Belichick placed a gag order on his players. But there was strong circumstantial evidence.
Did the coach warn you guys, Rob Ninkovich?
"We're just going to go out there and play a football game," he said. "We're all preparing right now."
How about it, Alge Crumpler?
"We've been told to play football," he said. "That's all I'm worried about. I'm just going to play. I'm not worried about what's being said."
Finally, I went to the source. No dice.
"We try to concentrate on what we have to do to get ready to play and be ready to go when the game is scheduled," Belichick mumbled. "That's our goal every week, to do our job and get ready to play."
So it went on a day when radio stations in New York and Boston were counting down to a game nearly a week away and the Pats seemed to be counting down merely to the end of the media access period.
No player suffered more than Danny Woodhead, who has flourished as a Patriots back since being cut by the Jets in September and who doggedly refused to discuss his former team.
"I'm here and I'm happy and that's all that matters," he said.
Later, Belichick said Woodhead's knowledge of the Jets' personnel could help his play Monday as well as provide insights for teammates.
When not avoiding the subject of Ryan, several Patriots did seem mildly intrigued by the news that on Monday he compared himself to Tom Brady in that both married "supermodels."
"Hey, I wouldn't put it past Rex," said cornerback Kyle Arrington, who played at Hofstra. "He's a fun guy, man."
Not that there's anything wrong with that necessarily, but the Pats made it clear it's not for everyone.
"That's their M.O.," Arrington said. "It starts from the top down. Rex is very outgoing, and they don't have a problem with that. I guess we're more of an internal team. Every team has its own personality."
Said Crumpler: "They're going to do what they do. They take after their coach and play well. We take after our coach and play well."