Eric Decker is a laid-back, confident athlete and a no-nonsense, no-holds-barred competitor. That's the impression that comes through loud and clear when you speak with our just-signed free agent wide receiver.
"The Jets reached out, and really, I felt the most respect from them," Decker told me in our phone conversation early this afternoon. "As a competitor, that's something that's important, that a team values you and respects you. I see a culture that's something I want to be a part of with the Jets."
A day and a half after doing just that with his signing late Wednesday night, the 6'3", 214-pounder reflected on his long day at the Atlantic Health Complex with owner Woody Johnson, general manager John Idzik, head coach Rex Ryan and their staffs.
"I've seen the facility before," he said, referencing the Denver Broncos' week of Super Bowl preparation here in Florham Park, NJ, last month. "But just to get more of a feel for the facility and the community, I think it's a great place, New York's a great city, New Jersey is underrated. I think Woody and the front office treat their coaches and players first-class, they've got a rich tradition with the Jets, and I'm just happy to be a part of it."
Specifically about his new head coach, Decker said Ryan didn't disappoint.
"Seeing him from an outside perspective, Rex is a guy that has a lot of personality," Decker said. "He's a competitor. And just getting to know him the day of the visit, he's genuine. He's just a good guy, a good coach, a players' coach. He cares about his guys, he does things to make you feel comfortable and confident so you can perform at the highest level. That's important in this league.
"Obviously he's known to be a great defensive mind and that's important to winning championships. He along with his staff were absolutely awesome. I'm excited to get a chance to work with them."
Jets fans who were waiting for their team to make a big move in free agency are excited to see Eric Decker put up some of his textbook production on the field, especially the part that produced 24 touchdowns over the past two Broncos seasons — tied for second-most among all NFL wideouts in that span.
"What I hope to do is just come in and be a valuable asset as far as being a good teammate," he said. "Going to work every day, behind the scenes, what a lot of fans don't see is the consistency of the work ethic, every day progressing to get better, whether it's through film study or on the field, and that's my biggest thing as a player.
"What I want to be known as when I'm done playing football is a guy that was durable, reliable, consistent in his play. For me it's not trying to do something special, just make plays and help the team win football games. That's the bottom line. I don't even remember the stats I had a couple years ago, but you remember the wins and losses and those successes. That's something that's very important to me."
Another thing that's important for Decker is his family — his wife, the country singer Jessie James, and a new child expected to be born any day now. And an extension of that is his E! network reality show, appropriately titled "Eric & Jessie: Game On," with the season premiere set for March 30.
I'd already gotten a radio interviewer's question about whether the Jets had told Decker the reality show is a no-go. I doubted we had told him that, but I asked Eric about it.
"My biggest thing was to let the Jets know that the show is something completely different from football, that's not a distraction to me, obviously," Decker said. "I'm an adult. I know how to handle my priorities. And my priorities are my family's first, my profession, football, is second, and everything else falls from there. When it's football time, it's football time. The boundaries for me are in place. I think the Jets know that and Denver knew that would never be a distraction from my play and my focus on what my job is."
E! is no doubt thrilled with Eric & Jessie's new stage not far from Broadway. Their new advertising campaign for the show is : "NEW TEAM / NEW CITY / NEW BABY ... HERE'S TO NEW BEGINNINGS."
Decker's new beginning as a Jet is under way and there's every expectation he'll be a smash hit on the field and off.