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Feely is the Jets' kicker, but he's much more than that

New York Jets kicker Jay Feely (3) celebrates

New York Jets kicker Jay Feely (3) celebrates with New York Jets tackle Damien Woody (67) after Feely kicked a field goal against the Cincinnati Bengals. (January 9, 2010) Credit: AP

Jay Feely's big football moment may have been in the wild-card win over the Bengals, but the Jets' kicker has bigger goals in mind.

No, not a Super Bowl title, though he will be looking for one of those if the Jets beat the Colts today.

His biggest post-football moment might have already happened last year when he sat down with Fox News vice president of programming Bill Shine.

"They started talking about books they'd both read and you could just see Bill's face. It was like, 'Holy -- , this is a serious, smart guy,' " said Mark Lepselter, Feely's business agent, who made the introduction with Shine. "Bill found out what I already knew: There are very few clients I would just waltz into the Fox News offices. Jay has that 'it' factor, and people are starting to know that."

Feely has made a handful of appearances on Sean Hannity's Fox News show and counts Bill O'Reilly as a friend. He also makes no apologies for where he wants to be when his football career ends: "Kicker for the New York Jets, 9 yrs in NFL, Husband, Father of 4, golfing fanatic, fishermen [sic], Christian, with political aspirations," reads his Twitter page biography.

"He seems to be an honest, smart, direct guy, and we certainly need more of those in public policy more and more," O'Reilly told Newsday this past week. "He also saved the game in Cincinnati."

The Bengals game, as Lepselter noted, "was kind of like Jay's coming-out party." The contributions of a lowly kicker were celebrated in a nationally televised playoff game when Feely did a good job handling emergency punting duties in the win.

But with the help of Lepselter - who has managed Tiki Barber's media career for a long time - Feely already has broken through on the media side, with an hour-long show on ESPN 1050 and his appearances on Fox News, in which he rarely talks sports.

Feely is very active on Twitter and tries to have a dialogue with fans and deliver his thoughts on any number of topics. He used Twitter to auction off two tickets to the Jets' win over the Chargers to the person who sent him the best picture of himself punting while doing his regular job.

The winner, an Army captain named John Turner, sent Feely a photo of him punting outside his base in Fort Wainwright in Alaska. The part Feely didn't publicize is that he paid for Turner's hotel in San Diego. Turner's wife flew in so they could see each other before Turner was deployed to Iraq.

"I just admire him as an athlete," said O'Reilly, who punted for Marist's club team in the late 1960s. "He certainly pays attention to the world around him, too. I hope he hangs around for a while with the Jets."

Feely can do that and still dip into the media waters as a prelude to a possible political career. He isn't thinking about those things now, with a Super Bowl in his native Florida one win away, but he makes no excuses about wanting to branch out. At 33 and with the tenuous job he holds, he's been planning ahead for years.

"It's just being prudent," Feely said. "You know you can't play forever and that it can end anytime. It doesn't take away from how hard you work, it's just being prudent about life. There are people who criticize athletes for trying to branch out, but it's a Catch-22: If you don't plan ahead and try to do these kinds of things, it's much harder to catch up after you're done playing and out of the spotlight."

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