Back-to-back serious injuries upon an elite athlete may cause that person to lament through stages of depression, anxiety, and doubt. While Jets quarterback Chad Pennington has been successful thus far in his second strenuous shoulder rehabilitation, he considers his condition from a positive standpoint – perhaps as a guiding light for those in true dire need.
"You go through the injury, saying 'Not again; here we go again,'" he said. "I had to take a step back and look at it and say, 'Instead of why me, how about, why not me?' I can use this story for inspiration for people that face a lot of bigger challenges than I face. This is just a drop in the bucket compared to what some people go through on a regular basis."
After a successful first week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), in which Penny was an active participant while being monitored by medical personnel, the team as a whole has moved one step closer to their short term goals of cooperative understanding and communication. According to Pennington, the leadership Coach Mangini has exhibited has been helpful to all, as it is clear, concise and constructive.
"First and foremost you always look for a coach with a plan and a right attitude and he's got that, it's very precise, very detailed and its straightforward," said Pennington, who was a participant in both the CFM Football Fundamentals Mini-Camp last weekend and the Jets Charity Golf Classic this week as well. "As players, everyday we're seeing some of the plan evolve; we're seeing the plan take place. We know what he expects from us and what he wants from us, and that's important. He's setting that with the right attitude as well, he's not expecting anything but your best, not just on the field but off the field. It means preparing in the class room and the weight room - those things go into being a successful football player."
By following those essential off-field principles, Pennington has indeed proven himself a success in years past. More so, he has assumed the role of team leader for much of his career under center. However, Pennington now believes that his rehab and his personal standing currently plays second fiddle to the importance of the team's primary mission of complete unity - not to say his leadership has not been a huge influence on others.
"I always looked at it as when I'm in there as quarterback, you have to take control -whoever's in there has to take control of the game and has to take control of the team," said Pennington. "But it's not just my team; it's our team right now. All of us are working as hard as we can, trying to communicate - that's one thing coach always talks about. Whether in class room or in the locker room - talking about plays, different schemes on the field, communicating - that's the only way you're going to be successful, to get all 11 guys going in same direction."
Competition has been the word attached to the quarterback position during the offseason as Pennington and veteran Brooks Bollinger have been joined by veteran passer Patrick Ramsey and rookie Kellen Clemens. Pennington feels that the fight for a starting spot is in no ways something new, rather, it is constantly expected in the NFL.
"What you need to realize about being a player in this league is that it's all about competition, and these coaches are in the business of creating competition at every position," said Pennington. "That's the only way you get better, you can't just say, 'Well we're ok here.' You always have to look for an edge, you have to bring in guys to either make the guys already here better or even replace somebody, that's what the league's all about. Every position is a competition, at my position there's competition there; I love it, I think about it every day, it's going to make me a better player."
Whoever that starting quarterback may be come September 10 in Tennessee, Pennington feels as though the deserving athlete will be part of an exciting new electric wave of offensive plans and ideas, channeled through new Offensive Coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer.
"We plan on being exciting," he said. "As an offensive player you want to be exciting and explosive and to take advantage of the personnel. I love my teammates here, the guys we have in position to make plays, and we have some exciting players. I think Coach Schottenheimer will put these guys in position to score points as an offense and as an offensive player that's what you get paid to do, score points and keep the defense off the field and take the pressure off them, and that's what we're focused on doing."
But don't expect the atmosphere at Weeb Ewbank Hall to be exceedingly tense prior to training camp. Although he and his teammates have been swamped with new plays and coaches, Pennington and the rest of the veterans have a few other off-field missions to plan; the most notable being the rookie welcoming procedures.
"My rookie welcoming was quite an experience. My whole goal as a rookie was not to get my head shaved, so I sold out to anything and everything that the guys wanted me to do, besides getting my hair shaved off," said Pennington. "I jumped into the cold tub naked - thank goodness I was still able to have kids! I also had to wear a helmet for 24 hours; that's through breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all meetings, weight lifting, and even driving. It was a pretty good experience for me."