In a way, it's as if Jay Fiedler has been throwing boomerangs instead of footballs. After starring at Oceanside High School and Dartmouth College and playing for four NFL teams, the quarterback ESPN's Chris Berman sometimes jokingly referred to as "Fiedler on the roof" is back on Long Island.
Fiedler, 40, who enthusiastically came to the Jets in 2005 with great expectations that were dashed by a career-ending injury, has lived in Garden City ever since he returned to his home county. "I was real excited about the opportunity to play for the Jets and coming back home after a career journey from place to place," he said. "Unfortunately, the circumstances didn't turn out the way I would've liked."
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In a game against Jacksonville, he injured his throwing (right) shoulder in the same game in which Chad Pennington was injured. Fiedler not only never got the chance to claim the starting quarterback's job but was forced to retire after two surgeries. "I was looking forward to finishing my career back home by helping the Jets get to the playoffs," Fiedler said. "I tried coming back the next year, when Tampa Bay signed me, but I couldn't go back on the field and I had to sign the [retirement] papers."
He bounced from the Eagles (for whom he never got in a game) to the Vikings to the Jaguars to the Dolphins (where he started for parts of four seasons) to the Jets, throwing for 69 touchdowns and 11,844 yards and completing 58.7 percent of his passes. He now has several business ventures and also has turned his NFL experiences into a side job mentoring area high school football players through his summer camp and winter clinics.
Among his students last year were 2011 All-Long Island players Isaiah Barnes (Freeport QB) and Michael Richardson (West Babylon WR). This past summer, he tutored two of this year's top Long Island QBs, A.J. Otranto of Floyd and Nick Frenger of Plainedge. "I enjoy the camps and the clinics and I like working with kids," Fiedler said. "I'm not looking at pursuing a coaching career right now."
At Oceanside, Fiedler recalled, "We were kind of a middle-of-the-road team, but we were one of the first teams that was using a spread-type offense and passing the ball the majority of the time."
He remembers beating Long Beach in his sophomore year after the Sailors had gone winless the season before. "That was a big step towards improving the program," he said.
Most of his NFL memories came from his years as a starter for Miami. On Dec. 30, 2000, Fiedler led a drive to force overtime against Peyton Manning and the Colts, a game the Dolphins won, 23-17.
The following season, in the first week of NFL games after 9/11, the Dolphins beat the Raiders, 18-15, with Fiedler diving over the goal line in the final seconds and winding up on the cover of Sports Illustrated. "Being a guy from New York and knowing a number of people that were affected by the tragedy, it was a very big emotional game for me," Fiedler said. "It was great being part of a game that helped return the country to normalcy."