It's become an annual tradition.
When the calendar reaches late June, I shuffle off to Hofstra for the Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge and I meet up with Boomer Esiason before kickoff. We always chat about the game and his foundation, and then we briefly talk about the state of the Jets and the AFC East.
Sanchez Has "It"
We covered a number of topics Tuesday, beginning with rookie QB Mark Sanchez.
"It is the presence to handle all the things that are going to come at him now," Boom said. "When you're the fifth overall pick in the draft and you sign a $50 million dollar contract, people expect results right away.
"He's going to have to deal with whatever criticism comes his way. In my estimation, he has accepted it thus far. He's had fun with the guys at camp when they were calling him 'Money Man' and posting the [GQ] pictures without the shirt on and me ripping the shirt off of him on stage at a charity event. He's getting all that stuff and he's cool with it. He gets it. I can sense the kid really understands what's going on."
Simms' Scouting Report
Leading up to the draft, Esiason hosted a draft preview show on MSG and was joined by Phil Simms. Both men thought the Jets should move up to get Sanchez and Simms was high on the USC product after his workout.
"Phil said he went and watched the workout," Boomer said. "He said Boomer, 'The kid can make every throw, he is a pocket passer and he can throw on the run.' He didn't think he would be as spontaneous as Ben Roethlisberger or Joe Flacco. He thought he'd be more like a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning, a Matt Ryan — a guy who's going to stand in the pocket, read the defenses and knows how to get rid of the ball. He said his throwing motion is as flawless as he's ever seen and I agreed with him."
While many media pundits have already awarded the starting job to Sanchez, Esiason wouldn't be all that surprised to see Clemens on the field come September 13 when the Jets meet the Texans down in Houston.
"I think Kellen will have a chance to start. The reality is this — they drafted a kid with the fifth overall pick and they don't draft a kid with the fifth overall pick to jam him up in a quarterback deal," Esiason said. "That's your guy, that's the guy who is going to sell the PSLs for you, he's the guy who's going to be on the field.
"But is he going to be ready that first season? That's the question, so therefore Kellen will have an opportunity to go out there and play, and maybe they won't rush Mark quickly along. And if Kellen plays well and the team wins, then Kellen keeps the job. But if Kellen falters in any way, shape or form, it's going to be the rookie out there."
A Coaching Star?
After a change of head coaches, the culture has certainly changed here in Florham Park. While Eric Mangini preferred a more tight-lipped approach, Rex Ryan has been anything but conservative in his dealings with the media.
"It's a breath of fresh air and I think everybody realizes that. The people who work in that building know it more than anybody else. He is a bombastic type of loud guy who is not afraid to throw his personality out there, which is refreshing," Boom said.
"If he wins, he could be the biggest star this city has ever seen. You know that, don't you? From a coaching standpoint, he can be the biggest and best ever."
Possibility of Theater in Buffalo
With Tom Brady back in the lineup, Esiason sees the Patriots as the "odds-on favorite" in the AFC East and the Jets, the Dolphins and the Bills grouped closely together. Like many other people, he is fascinated to see how the Terrell Owens experiment works.
"Part of me is conflicted — I want Trent [Edwards] to do well and I want them to do well, but I'd also like to see what would happen if they had a losing record and TO is in Buffalo come late November or December," he said. "Forget about renting a house man — he'll be renting a jet to get out of there. It's going to be wild. That has the potential to be off the charts wild!
"They gave him the key to the city kind of like Mayor Bloomberg did here with Brett Favre — not a good thing to do. But they sold 55,000 season tickets which was their third best total ever, smart right? You bring in TO, a personality, and then look at what happens."