NFL Europa is kaput, but the four Jets who played in the spring/summer developmental league helped send it off with class. They all played well and could figure in the depth chart battles at their different positions once Green & White training camp heats up in two weeks.
And there was even a fifth Jet who played a role in the 15th and last season of the league. Charles Missant — who's been known to answer to "Chuck" — wasn't a Jet when he centered for the Frankfurt Galaxy this season, but he was a Jet last training camp and he's a Jet again heading into this camp.
And Missant feels the loss of NFL Europa more than most.
"It was a great experience for me," Missant told newyorkjets.com recently. "I was a 22-game starter [over two seasons, including two World Bowl starts]. I got a lot of playing time and a lot of experience, at center and at the long-snapper position. Nothing can replace watching the film and the playing time. I played with a lot of good guys and outstanding coaches.
"To see the league go down the way it did, it's a shame."
The game was the thing for Missant, who wrote what you could call a "Euroblog" for this website last season, but for him the cultural experience was right up there with the playing experience.
"I got to see a different part of the world that I probably wouldn't have been able to see if I didn't play over there," he said. "I got a chance to travel to a lot of different places — Brussels, Rome, all over Germany, Amsterdam. It was a real great opportunity to see a lot of different things."
Not to mention to sample a lot of different food.
"Germany is a meat-and-potatoes society," said the 6'3", 295-pounder. "I ate a lot of good food."
And he met a lot of good fans.
"They really supported their team in Frankfurt," he said. "They averaged 40,000 people a game. For a country whose primary sport is soccer, to have that support week in and week out was outstanding. From that standpoint, with the league ending, I feel sad for the fans."
On the other hand, Missant is happy to not be out standing when NFL teams invite their players into camp. He re-signed with the Jets early this month and said he can't wait to participate in his second summer orchestrated by head coach Eric Mangini.
"I really like the way Coach Mangini handles his team and his training camp and the discipline that goes into it," he said. "I'm that kind of player. Coming back from Europe as a free agent and now being here in New York, it really feels like I'm coming back to a place I know."
Whether Missant will be able to plunk down money for a house for the season remains to be seen. He reenters the fray at center that also includes Nick Mangold, last year's rookie starter, plus Wade Smith and rookie free agent Andrew Wicker. He knows how the deck is stacked, but he still wants to be dealt in.
"The NFL works in mysterious ways," he said. "I've been cut multiple times, been on the practice squad. It's a learning experience. There's always a sense of urgency for a player when it comes to training camp. A lot of people get cut. You can't every get comfortable as a player in training camp."
But Missant has survived and thrived for a good part of the last two calendar years in a foreign land, always with the goal of enduring the discomfort of another NFL training camp. He said he'll do whatever it takes, including "handing out water" if that's what it takes.
"I'm a team guy. Whatever Coach Mangini or the O-line coach or the offensive coordinator or the special teams coach asks me to do, I'll try to fulfill it to the best of my ability," he said. "A lot of people don't even get the opportunity to go to training camp. I'm looking forward to giving it my best effort."