When Rex Ryan got the Jets' coaching job, he reached out to players he knew, free agents whom he wanted to join him for his new gig. Matt Stover, the longtime Ravens kicker, was one of them. Stover was a free agent after 19 seasons in the Browns/Ravens organization and Ryan wanted him to be a Jet.
Of course, Jay Feely was the incumbent, having finished up the 2008 season in strong fashion after joining the Jets in the second week of the season.
The Jets went with Feely, but don't feel bad for the 41-year-old Stover. He'll be kicking for the Colts today.
"Rex and I have known each other for a long time," Stover said. "His style is his style. He's always been that way with that defense. You've seen players respond to it . . . We'll say hello. We said hello last time. We chatted for a bit, and we had fun with it, too."
Stover was far from upset that the Jets chose to bring back Feely on a one-year, $1.45-million deal - especially given that he and Feely have been friends for nearly a decade, both having served the NFL Players Association in a variety of roles over the years.
"We go fishing together. Our families have gone on vacation together," Feely said. "He's one of my closest friends in football."
And Stover may have sealed the deal between Ryan and Feely, giving each man a glowing recommendation about the other.
Stover signed with the Colts in October after Adam Vinatieri had arthroscopic knee surgery. Vinatieri is the most clutch postseason kicker in NFL history and figured to be ready for the postseason, but Colts coach Jim Caldwell is going with Stover for the second straight week, even though Vinatieri is available.
"Between the three of us [Stover, Vinatieri and Feely], I think we have a mutual respect for one another and the fact that we've done a lot in this league," said Stover, a member of the Ravens' Super Bowl-winning team after the 2000 season. "It's fun to be friends with guys like that and to know each other, and actually, to have one to play against and one to play with, it's kind of fun."