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Leon, D-Bo Return to Florida, Families

The only good that comes out of ending a season before the New Year? Players and coaches get to catch up with their loved ones.

"That's the thing you miss the most during the season is spending time with your family," said Leon Washington, the Jets' 2007 MVP. "You don't get a chance to see them. My family is 1,200 miles away down in Florida. You want to catch up on all the things going on with them and relax away from football for a few weeks."

Washington, a native of Jacksonville, has a 2-year-old son who will be waiting for his daddy when he returns down south.

"I miss him a lot," Washington said. "We are going to hit Disney up and we are going to play catch a little bit with the football and just enjoy each other."

Veteran outside linebacker David Bowens, who just completed his first season with the Jets, will also go home to the Sunshine State. The former Dolphin still has a residence in Miami and plans on relaxing with his daughters, making stops at Disney World and SeaWorld.

"My two girls are 13 and 7 and that's why I have this gray hair," Bowens joked.

Unfortunately, the Jets will have to replace a family member in 2008. Special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff's upcoming surgery on his left leg will force him to miss at least the 2008 season.

"Mike's a good friend. I'll see him in the off-season in Florida and we'll try to do some fishing," Bowens said. "It hasn't sunk it yet. I'll be talking to him and seeing what I can do on my game and what we can do special-teams-wise."

After 25 NFL seasons and seven in charge of the Jets' special teams, Westhoff's absence will be felt throughout the league.

"Mike's tough. He's like the old veteran that you see every week that's still going to play. Mike doesn't miss much," Bowens said. "This game needs Mike more than he needs the game. He's been an attribute to the league as far as his schemes and his aggressiveness and the way he plays special teams. That's going to be missed."

The one thing you can always count on in the NFL is the team picture changing each year. The 2007 Jets met for the final time Monday morning and all those players and coaches will never assemble together at one time again at Weeb Ewbank Hall.

"It's kind of weird. It kind of reminds me when you were back in grade school," Washington said. "You go away for a long time for that summer break, and then you come back and see all your schoolmates and there are some people who have moved on."

This season's Jets won't be remembered for a tremendous record, but they revealed character throughout disappointment.

"I think the losses made us closer," Bowens said. "When we found out we weren't going to be in it, guys could have been selfish, done their own thing and not played hard. But we stuck together and nobody pointed fingers. We had each other's back and that's the most important thing."

And now with the season complete, the New Year means a little family time for the Green & White.

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