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ESPN's Adam Schefter: 'If the Jets Win, They're Going to Rule New York'

After Breaking the Jets-Packers Trade, Schefty Says ‘Acquisition of One Man Has Changed Expectations’


From the get-go Adam Schefter made it perfectly clear: He grew up as a Jets fan in Bellmore on Long Island.

On the night before those long-ago games, ESPN's Senior NFL Insider said that he used to phone the hotel where Jets players were staying to wish them good luck.

And when he discovered that a cousin lived two blocks away from quarterback Richard Todd, "we rang his doorbell, he answered, but I didn't know what to say. I was tongue tied," he said.

Now, 33 years into his career covering the NFL, Schefter is seldom tongue-tied as he has evolved into one of the premier reporters covering the league with a reputation for breaking news with regularity.

So it seemed only fitting that a stop at 1 Jets Drive to take in the start of training camp was at the top of Schefter's agenda.

"I'm in the complex doing a podcast hanging out," Schefter, on an edition of "The Official Jets Podcast" told vice president, news strategy Eric Allen. "The young boy in me would have lost his mind. That little boy would love it, but it's a bit different as a professional."

Schefter has made a routine of breaking NFL news before any of his colleagues in the business. And his report that the Jets and the Green Bay Packers had completed the details of the trade for QB Aaron Rodgers in late April was one of those scoops. And in this age of instantaneous communication, Schefter had the news, but the immediacy got the best of him, at least for a few minutes.

"It was no surprise that he was traded to the Jets, the news was coming in real time," he said. "I get a text on the compensation and I'm reading it on the air [on ESPN's "NFL Live" show]. If I had time to process all the information, I would have said here's the trade: Jets and Packers swapped first-round picks. But I didn't say that. I said 'here's what the Jets gave up, a first-round pick.' And everyone went nuts. Of course they gave up one and got one, with other picks involved. It wasn't done intentionally, it was initially misrepresented, I didn't have time to sit back and evaluate. I just said the Packers get a first-round pick and people lost their minds.

"We cleared it up in a matter of seconds, but not before a meme was born."

He acknowledged that like any good reporter, big stories are a pure adrenaline rush, especially when a generational player like an Aaron Rodgers, or a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning change teams.

"I don't care how many years you do this, if you don't have that adrenaline excitement about a big story, it's time to get out of business," he said. "Any big story, the adrenaline is pumping and your heart is racing. If they don't, you shouldn't be doing it."

As he initially watched Rodgers from afar as he settled into a new and vastly different environment that he experienced for 18 seasons in Green Bay, Schefter mentioned parallels with other elite quarterbacks who changed teams and won Super Bowls.

"He looks really happy and we know he's going to be motivated," he said. "All you have to do is look at what a change of scenery did for great players, especially quarterbacks. Brady won a Super Bowl, Manning won a Super Bowl, Matthew Stafford won a Super Bowl. It certainly makes it interesting, fun, exciting, but if the Jets had status quo as opposed to Aaron Rodgers it wouldn't be this much excitement. Monday night opener, six prime-time games, 'Hard Knocks.' It wouldn't be happening if not for this one individual. Acquisition of this one man changed expectations. There's hope and excitement."

Coming to the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area has seemed to invigorate Rodgers. Attending events at Madison Square Garden, concerts at MetLife Stadium. And those are only the things the general public knows about. Then there's the prospect of winning in New York, with all the accolades that come with it.

"He doesn't need any more glory or accomplishments or stats to be a Hall of Famer on the first ballot," Schefter said. "But what it would do would make him an all-time New York sporting legend. Right now, he's not. If he were to come in and find a way to help lead the Jets to a Super Bowl title -- it's crazy to even say it -- if somehow he was able to do it, he would go down with every New York sporting legend -- [Mickey] Mantle, [Joe] DiMaggio, [Tom] Seaver, Willis [Reed], [Walt] Frazier, [Gary] Carter, Keith [Hernandez], Mookie [Wilson] Bucky [Dent], [Ron] Guidry, Reggie [Jackson], Lawrence [Taylor.]"

Seconds later, Schefter rushed to include [Bryan] Trottier and [Mark] Messier ... and of course Joe Willie Namath (even though he admitted that WR Wesley Walker is his all-time favorite Jets player).

See all of the best photos of the Jets during the preseason victory against the Carolina Panthers.

For all those expectations, Rodgers still requires surrounding talent, and there is recognition around the NFL that GM Joe Douglas and HC Robert Saleh have built an exciting young core, sprinkled with savvy, experienced veterans.

"The team is pretty good, better than people think, there's more talent than people realize," he said. "Outside people may look at the Jets and it's just the Jets. That doesn't matter. What matters is what they do this season. If they don't have a national following, who cares? If they play well, make the playoffs, win the division, advance in the postseason — there's going to be so much conversation about them that people will be sick of hearing of the Jets. They might be right now.

"But if they don't win, they will be mocked and criticized. It's up to them to determine how it will play out."

With the chess pieces now in place with the quarterback he said that "if they win everyone gets elevated."

"The social media department becomes one of the best, the business department makes the sales, the coaching staff, Coach Saleh is a bigger leader of men and Joe Douglas for all the talent they've uncovered. But in football it comes down to the quarterback," Schefter said.

"The quarterback has a chance to show how good these other players are, and you can see the talent. Sauce [Gardner] seems like he's a special cornerback. [Garrett] Wilson. I know his father, wow. And there's a feeling that this is Breece Hall's team. Quinnen [Williams] got a big contract. Yeah, they have talent."

The spotlight is on the Green & White even before the opening kickoff against division rival Buffalo on Monday night Sept. 11 at MetLife Stadium.

"If the Jets win, they're going to rule New York," Schefter said. "If they play well, they're going to be the kings of New York."

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