Tales from the New York Jets Sideline by Mark Cannizzaro
Review by C. Douglas Baker
Tales from the Jets Sideline is a very disappointing book. It’s almost difficult to know where to start in detailing its many shortcomings. Jets fans and football fans in general will find very little here worth bothering with.
But first a little bit about what the book is about, which unfortunately isn’t much given the rich and varied history of this team. Cannizzaro essentially serves up a hodgepodge of short vignettes about the New York Jets players, coaches, and owner from 1993-2003. Most of the tidbits are nothing new, nothing particularly interesting, and seem to be items gleaned from the “Sports In Brief” section of the newspaper. He probably should have called the book, “Jets in Brief, Since 1993.”
The book is organized in chapters primarily around the Jets many coaches with the owner and a few prominent players thrown in for good measure. So we go through the laundry list of chapters: Bruce Coslet, Pete Carroll, Boomer Esiason (QB), Rich Kotite, Leon Hess (owner), Bill Parcells, Curtis Martin (RB), Bill Belichick, Al Groh, K and Q (Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet), Chad Pennington (QB), and Herman Edwards. Thus we get snippets and snapshots of these particular coaches, players, and their teams.
If there is a theme to the book it is that the Jets, since 1993, have been cursed with very lousy coaching, with the exception of Bill Parcells. Parcells resurrected the Jets, took them to the AFC Championship game after the 1997 season, then abandoned the team to drift in a mire of mediocrity for another few years. But it ends on a hopeful note with praise for current coach Herman Edwards and the bright future of quarterback Chad Pennington.
The most interesting part of the book was the impact the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 had on this team and the fact Jets players were ready to boycott a game if the NFL had not decided to postpone the season by one week after the attacks. I could almost add the chapters on the contentious relationship between Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet and the surreal episode of Bill Beleihick resigning almost immediately after being named head coach but there was no inside information and nothing new in either of these stories.
The bottom line is this book just isn’t very good and tells us nothing even a somewhat casual fan doesn’t already know about the New York Jets. The New York Jets have a rich history and hardly any of it is detailed here. The book doesn’t even pick up the Jets story until 1993 but the team has been in existence since 1959. So there is no Joe Namath and his guarantee of the Jets’ improbable upset win over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, the highlight of the team’s history. There’s no Freeman McNeil, Wesley Walker, Joe Klecko and Mark Gastineau and their Gang Green defense. In short, we miss out on hearing about most of the Jets greatest moments and greatest players.
While this book is short and quick a read, I can’t imagine even Jets fans find too much of interest here.