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Steve McLendon's Georgia gym 'always open' for Jets teammates

Jets defensive lineman Steve McLendon AT training camp

Jets defensive lineman Steve McLendon AT training camp at the Atlantic Health Training Center on July 25, 2019. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The Jets can’t get on the field in Florham Park, New Jersey, or work out together right now, but Steve McLendon is trying to get some of them to come to his gym in Georgia to train.

McLendon, one of the true leaders on the Jets, opened a gym in Flowery Branch, Georgia, in February before the country was put on lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some restrictions have been lifted in Georgia, enabling McLendon to reopen his gym.

It hosted a kids’ party on Thursday, and youngsters were playing tug-of-war while McLendon was on a Zoom call. The veteran nose tackle likes to say, “The gym is always open.” That's especially the case for his teammates, particularly the new ones.

“A lot of my teammates are here in Georgia,” McLendon said. “I’m going to try to do some stuff here in Georgia for the guys that are here, especially a lot of these young guys, try to get them to come out so I can meet them, get to know more about them. Not only just know more about them, but especially the young guys that have just been drafted and the free-agent guys, I want to give them the opportunity to come in ahead of the game.

“It’s a very unique situation for them and for us. But if we have the opportunity of them coming down, I’m going to have them come out, come check the gym out, just come and check everything out and I can teach them how the game goes, maybe slow the game down. It’s a lot to learn. This is a tough situation. I’m open to it, I’m willing. We’re only going up from here.”

The Jets just finished Week 3 of their virtual offseason program. McLendon has been a part of it, but he wants to see things become physical.

McLendon, 34, said he’s in the process of getting the numbers of his teammates who are in the area, but he said anyone is welcome. McLendon has been in touch with teammate Jordan Jenkins, who lives in Georgia, and the list is expected to grow.

“When we get that opportunity to get together, I’m going to continue to impart as much knowledge as possible on them,” McLendon said. “Not only that, I’m going to try to get them bigger and stronger.”

The name of McLendon’s gym is “Team MVP Gym.” MVP stands for “McLendon Vision Performance.” Even when everyone was told to stay home, he was in his gym, working out and getting ready for his 11th NFL season.

Signed by Pittsburgh in 2009 as an undrafted rookie free agent, McLendon already has lasted longer in the NFL than he ever imagined. It’s in large part because of his positive approach to life as well as his training regimen and work ethic.

McLendon started all 16 games last season. His career-high 10 tackles for loss tied Jamal Adams for the team lead, and he also set a personal best of seven quarterback hits. McLendon isn’t an every-down player, either. He played only 42% of the defensive snaps but still produced.

McLendon, a captain, is one of the most respected players on the team. He helped mentor rookie Quinnen Williams last season and has been making sure many of the returning Jets are putting in work.

“I’ve been talking to a lot of the guys, we’ve been communicating all offseason,” McLendon said. “We’ve been doing at-home workouts, truck pulls and stuff like that. We’re pushing each other. This is something that’s different from the past offseasons. We continue to push each other when we’re not together. I imagine what it’s going to be like when we finally are together.”

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