It's been over three decades since John Idzik has laced up the spikes, slipped on the pads, and caught passes for Dartmouth College. But he left no doubt today how he was feeling as he took in the view from atop the Jets' draft machine.
"It's like gameday," Idzik said during his first predraft news conference as the Jets' not-quite-three-months-old general manager at the Atlantic Health Training Center this afternoon. "It's like when you play and you get that queasiness, the butterflies in your stomach. Then you get going. In that respect, there's no difference."
But don't let that suggest that there's the least bit of trepidation for Idzik now that he's fully in charge of an NFL team's operations for the first time. He showed where he's coming from as he expanded in response to a question from reporters about the pressure of perhaps making a trade of an All-Pro player for draft picks that would affect the Jets' on-field fortunes for years to come.
"I don't think it's more pressure with any one decision," he said. "It's just an axiom in football: We're all grinders at heart. Part of the grind is being prepared. When you feel like you've thoroughly researched everything, I don't know that it's pressure as much as it's gameday, let's go, let's get it going. I think our staff feels that way. As long as we're prepared, we'll be ready to respond appropriately to anything that comes across our desk. I think we're excited about that."
The player in question, of course, is Darrelle Revis. Idzik provided a few details on the Jets' cornerback, saying that he had "a nice talk" with No. 24 once he arrived this week for the start of the team's offseason strength and conditioning program. As for Revis' rehabilitation of the knee ligament injury that kayoed his 2012 season after 2¾ games, he replied:
"Most of that stuff is going to stay internal, but we're pleased with everything that has happened so far."
However, as for rumors about trade negotiations taking place regarding Revis or any other player on the Jets or any other team, Idzik was quietly, politely adamant about not furthering those stories.
"We won't discuss any supposed talks, true talks, club-to-club talks, player-to-club talks," he said. "Hopefully, respectfully, they'll remain private."
Idzik took the same approach to questions about quarterback Tim Tebow. "He's a New York Jet. It shouldn't be surprising. We've gone through some changes here. That's what I mean by letting things play out," the GM said, adding about Tebow being a part of the battle for spots on the Jets' 2013 QB depth chart: "I'm not saying he is, I'm not saying he isn't. The general mantra here is that we're going to try to increase competition at every spot."
And although the front table looked similar to past predraft news conferences, with Idzik flanked by senior personnel executive Terry Bradway to his right and longtime Jets scout Jeff Bauer, the new director of college scouting, to his left, no one commented on any specific players who may be available to the Jets in the three days of the draft from next Thursday through Saturday.
Bauer, in response to a question about the QBs available in the draft, said:
"Obviously we've studied the quarterback class, and we're still studying the quarterback class. We can't say where we've ranked the quarterbacks — that wouldn't be prudent of us. There are some quarterbacks that are going to play in this league. Whether that's at the No. 9 pick or whatever, we can't say that."
Bradway, who served as the Jets GM from 2001-05 before returning to his love of college scouting, gave about as in-depth an analysis as was heard today, saying: "We think the draft's very deep, especially in the middle rounds, later in the draft, and in some good quality free agents that will be available to us."
Idzik confirmed Bradway's assessment of a deep selection meeting and spoke of his philosophy in working a draft process that he said in January will be a "lifeline" to his new team.
"What happens is if you have a conviction as a staff, it goes back to your preparation as a staff," he said. "If you've vetted it out, then you feel pretty confident going into draft day about certain positions and certain players. Your opinion may differ from the public's opinion, it may differ from opinion throughout the league, it may differ from some draft experts. It doesn't matter, if you feel really good about a player."
Idzik's style at handling "predraft pressers" will no doubt modify as he becomes more comfortable in the job, but on the other hand he already seems quietly confident now and he has some bedrock principles that likely won't shift a whole lot, among them that the Jets will not be adding their own voices to the speculations and opinions of those outside the team's training facility. "I don't like to get into speculation or percentages or what's your gut feeling," he said. "We just put our heads down and burrow and do what we have to do. I don't think any of that affects us at all. We just try to pay attention to what we feel is the most important task at hand."
Honoring the Victims in Boston
The Jets lowered the large American flag at the corner of the grass field near the entrance to the Atlantic Health Training Center to half-staff in honor of the victims of the Boston Marathon terror attack. And Idzik opened the news conference with a tribute to all those involved in Monday's senseless acts of violence.
"From the Jets organization, our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the tragedy in Boston," Idzik told reporters. "It's a sobering experience and we want those folks to know that we're thinking about them."