Just a couple of minutes shy of 1 p.m. today, Rex Ryan and Wayne Chrebet exchanged a first handshake at the sixth annual New York Jets Charity Golf Classic presented by the National Communications Group.
"You still can get open in the slot — guaranteed," Ryan told Chrebet as the sun sparkled on both men at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
Far away from the video cameras and microphones, the Jets' new head coach and one of the organization's most legendary figures shared a friendly introductory conversation.
"I hear you're beating them up on offense already," Chrebet told the defensive mastermind.
"A little bit," Ryan answered.
"It's always like that in the early goings anyway," responded No. 80.
While Ryan remained the master of ceremonies on hole No. 16, Chrebet was just playing through with his group.
"I'm playing terrible," deadpanned Chrebet, who recently was named a financial adviser for Morgan Stanley. "I don't play very often, but I'm playing with Marty [Lyons], Greg Buttle and [Bob "White Shoes"] Wischusen and they're pretty good golfers, so I'm having a good time."
Ryan has made it a point during his short tenure to embrace the Jets alums. He was happy to see a solid alumni golf turnout, which also featured a Joe Klecko appearance. Displaying his natural charm, the amicable Ryan greeted every group to come through and posed for photos at the challenging par-3.
And throughout the charity outing, Ryan was consistently inconsistent with his 3-wood at the 175-yard hole. Some went left, some went right, some went long and some went into the water. The PGA Tour won't be calling soon.
"I'm actually a righty, but I golf lefty. I played baseball and when I was a kid, my dad always said get that power hand on the bottom," he told me. "It works in baseball, but my golf game isn't that good."
The top three golfers on this Jets team are K Jay Feely, RB Danny Woodhead and S Jim Leonhard. When I arrived at Trump at 8 a.m., Feely was already chomping at the bit to get on the course.
"I'm right around par — sometimes a little under, a little over depending on how I putt," Feely said. "Long drives [he can let 'er rip in the 310-320-yard range), good wedges. The weakest part of my game is putting."
Feely, a scratch golfer who occasionally plays with pros, said Woodhead is a 5-handicap and Leonhard is about a 10. That tremendous trio plays together two to three times a week, so this round wasn't anything atypical.
"I hit my irons pretty well. Actually I feel pretty comfortable with a lot of my game," Woodhead said. "I guess I'm a pretty decent golfer, but around the green I felt pretty comfortable."
Things were going fairly well for Jerricho Cotchery before he lined up his tee shot on the 16th. He saw a big gulf of water he had to launch that little white ball over and foreshadowed doom.
"This is my weakness right here. You look at the water and it's a wrap for me," J-Co said. "I get nervous once I see that water right there."
Those nerves were followed by a little groundball, but Cotchery struck his mulligan well over the drink. While J-Co was out for the fun, GM Mike Tannenbaum assembled a team to win.
"My job is to put a good team together," said the always competitive Mr. T. "We have a guy who is really good off the tee, good off the fairway, a short game guy and I'm just there for encouragement."
Update: 6:45 p.m. — Woodhead and his Tzell Travel team, Jerry Behrens, Greg O'Hara, John LeBaron and Greg Lockard, won the Charity Golf Classic. Team Woodhead carded an 11-under-par 59 in the best-ball event. Three teams tied for second, with a match of cards giving second place to Jay Feely and the Eisner LLP fivesome at 9-under 61. James Ihedigbo and his State Farm Insurance team finished third also at 9-under, and GM Mike Tannenbaum and his Jets 1 team came in fourth also at 9-under. Randy Lange will have more details in his feature on Danny Woodhead going up on *newyorkjets.com *early Wednesday.