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Klecko enjoying analyst gig at SNY

Former Jet Joe Klecko at SNY studios in

Former Jet Joe Klecko at SNY studios in Manhattan. (Jan. 4, 2011) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

So, what do you think of the Jets' chances entering the playoffs, Joe Klecko?

That was my initial contribution to a conversation with the former All-Pro defensive lineman Tuesday at SNY's Manhattan studios.

My next came 8 minutes and 40 seconds - and 1,285 words - later, after Klecko had broken down the wild-card game against the Colts in an extended, insightful monologue.

(You can read the transcript on my blog at Newsday.com/sportswatch.)

That might not seem like a noteworthy feat, given Klecko, 57, is in the first full season of his part-time job as an analyst for SNY and thus should know the team well.

But two things about that:

First, it's not every former star - and Klecko is among the top handful of players in Jets history - who bothers to do his homework before talking on TV.

Second, Klecko was doing the same thing at home before anyone offered to pay him to do so.

The only difference then was he usually had an audience of one in a friend, Peter Grandich, with whom he watched while offering commentary he often deemed more accurate than what he heard on TV.

"It seemed like a lot of the announcers said things hoping the whole world out there was listening to them and not watching the game,'' he said.

Now he is one of them, not on live games but in the studio after them. He said it is a gig for which he is well suited.

"I enjoy the chess match,'' he said. "I'm not as much a fan as a student of the game.''

He recalled sitting late in his career (which ran from 1977-88) with the veteran offensive line coach Dan Radakovich, testing one another by exchanging ideas on how to attack a defense, and vice versa.

"I learned more in that one or two years with Bud Carson and Dan Radakovich than in my whole career in football,'' he said. "It became a real habit to look at that stuff.''

The fact his son, Dan, won three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots and Colts in the mid-2000s helped him stay current with the 21st century game.

And the fact another son, Josh, is a high school lineman in New Jersey keeps him physically current.

"I put the pads on to teach him,'' Joe said. "I go at it with him.''

Klecko remains a stickler about technique.

"I'll put it to you this way,'' he said, "I am not an arrogant person, but I don't know anybody who knows what I know to teach.''

So why not coach? That would require an extraordinary situation, he said, because of the harsh lifestyle.

Full-time TV work also is not currently in the cards. He has a day job representing several companies, including Trinity Solar, for which he appears on radio ads now in heavy rotation.

But Klecko is working to become more comfortable with the mechanics of the job.

"Talking about it is easy for me,'' he said. "Finding myself in the [studio] was the hard thing. The ear piece. The sitting up. The looking at the cameras.''

Producer Will O'Toole first reached out to Klecko for last season's playoffs, mostly because of his name recognition.

"I think he's come a long way, and the potential is limitless,'' he said. "He just needs the comfort in front of the cameras.''

Klecko said he still bleeds Jets green and added, "I'm going to root for them no matter what.''

But he also has shown a willingness to offer bluntly candid analysis after losses.

"All I do is explain to you what happened out there,'' he said. "It's all I want to do.''

New York Sports