Thanks for having me this week on the Jets blog, fans.
As a bonus to our loyal website readers, here is an advance look at the collection of business and media related Jets notes I am sending to the editors for inclusion in the Sunday paper.
It includes appearances by Sean McManus, Phil Simms, Jim Nantz, Tom Jackson, Sal Paolantonio, Steve Tasker, Matt Higgins and Bart Scott.
Enjoy the post, and enjoy the game. Can't wait!
Item 1: Jet$ run is good for business
Winning isn’t everything. The Jets’ business plan does not rely on it, anyway.
“Our philosophy internally is to really almost disregard performance,’’ said Matt Higgins, the executive VP for business.
Still, he said of the latest playoff run, “It’s undeniable it has a big impact. Everyone likes a winner at the end of the day, whether you’re a sponsor or fan.’’
Higgins said the biggest short-term impact has been in sponsorship and interest in suite sales, but efforts to sell remaining club seats for 2011 also should get a boost.
The hope is that in addition to winning, fans are feeling more engaged with the team, thanks to its social media outreach and the accessibility of its freewheeling head coach.
“Truth be told, we ride his coattails,’’ Higgins said of Rex Ryan. He added it helps that owner Woody Johnson is on board. “He’s the most thick-skinned person I’ve ever met,’’ Higgins said.
Item 2: CBS eyes big ratings
Even after attracting an average of 46.9 million viewers for last year’s conference title game – the best for the AFC in 24 years – the smart money is on the Jets surpassing that mark against the Steelers.
Why? Well, they drew a divisional-round record 43.5 million last weekend, so as long as the game is close, beating that should not be a problem. Playing in prime time won’t hurt, either.
The Packers and Bears will have a tougher time beating last year’s monster Saints-Vikings number for the NFC finale: 57.9 million.
Item 3: Sal Pal draws out Scott
ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio spent the week in Florham Park fielding questions (and congratulation) about his YouTube-sensation interview with Bart Scott after the victory over the Patriots.
But Sal Pal gave Scott all the credit, telling me the only thing he did right as a reporter was to keep his mouth shut and let Scott roll.
True, but that’s more than many TV types would have done in the same situation.
And Paolantonio did come up with the perfectly timed line, “See you in Pittsburgh,’’ that elicited Scott’s rallying cry: “Can’t wait!’’
The two playfully reenacted the scene on camera Thursday, with Scott providing the setup and Paolantonio answering, “Can’t wait!’’
Item 4: Rex is even better off air
The weekly production meetings in which TV announcers sit with coaches and players can be dry, tiresome and repetitive. Unless, of course, they feature Rex Ryan.
“When you see him on TV, that’s a level down from what we see,’’ CBS analyst Phil Simms said. “He is extremely honest and pretty funny, too.’’
Speaking of production meetings, Simms and Jim Nantz were accused by one columnist – not me! – of going easy on Bill Belichick last Sunday in anticipation of having to work with him in the future.
Simms and Nantz did not agree. “I’ve never sat in a game in my life and said, ‘Boy, I better be careful what I say about this coach because I might cover him next week,’’’ Simms said.
Nantz did criticize the Jets for a “self-aggrandizing’’ celebration of their final touchdown last week.
“The bottom line was I thought we praised Rex for the job he did, and it was a phenomenal victory,’’ Nantz said.
Item 5: CBS studio team will be warm, dry
CBS pulled the plug several years back on on-site sets for studio analysts at big games such as the AFC Championship.
But unlike during the regular season and early postseason games the network will deploy a sideline reporter, Steve Tasker. CBS Sports president Sean McManus called it “a really, really good insurance policy’’ for a game of this magnitude.
CBS plans to use several extra cameras, including three high-speed units - one on a moving cart, one stationary and one hand-held.
Item 6: Jackson flips, then flops
Even normally cogent TV voices can get loopy in the playoffs, such as when CBS’ Bill Cowher said last week the Jets’ only chance might be if some Patriots were stranded by a snowstorm.
At least Cowher knew who he thought would win.
Last Sunday on ESPN, Tom Jackson picked the Patriots in a blowout.
After being called out by Bart Scott after the Jets’ victory, he said on ESPN Radio Monday that he really thought the Jets would win but was trying to motivate them by picking the other way.
Huh? Tuesday, he told USA Today he really did like the Patriots in the first place.
"I was shocked and stunned by Bart's comments, that they were directed at me,’’ he said. “So in an effort to make an excuse for the comments, I made comments I shouldn't have."