When you arrive in Cortland you get the immediate sense of home. It's a small town where people always say hi and pick up your wallet when you drop it on Main Street.
They're primarily Bills fans because of their proximity to Buffalo but since the Jets announced they were coming ... the town has turned green. Signs are up everywhere, people are talking about the Jets in camp and genuinely proud the Jets made that move.
Nearly all the Jets personnel and media I chat with are really impressed with the facilities and can't believe this is a D-3 school.
This town really rolled out the red carpet for the Jets. You should see Doug's Fish Fry — the owner is a longtime Jets season ticket holder and proudly displays it with a sign in front of the restaurant displaying his seat number in section 137. We ate there one night and a Little League team showed up after one of their games. That's what makes that town special. Family-owned restaurants like Doug's and Hairy Tony's and Dark Horse have a connection with the community.
That's why the Jets were brought to a town with the population of 18,000 some 3½ hours from the city: to get away and focus on football. I know it's not the most convenient place to watch training camp, like Hofstra, but it's about the team coming together. This team has a new coach with a clear new attitude. The swagger and the camaraderie we're seeing in camp is helped by the fact that they're cooped up together away from any distractions.
Make no mistake, this team believes in itself and we've really seen some guys come out of their shell. How about D'Brickashaw Ferguson proclaiming on newyorkjets.com that he'll go to the Pro Bowl and already talking Super Bowl? Outstanding. When Brick walked off the field after Thursday's Green & White Scrimmage, he was hamming it up for the fans and getting them pumped up. Great to see that from a guy who's just put his head down and worked hard the past three years.
I know it's not fun when the location makes it harder for fans to come up from Long Island to see their Jets, but if it makes the team better, I'm sure fans will take it. The intention is to help this team bond quickly and buy into the new system.
Those first four games are not easy. Many experts see the Texans as an up-and-coming team. The Patriots are back at full strength. The Titans are always tough and now on a mission. And the Saints are another team with a lot of weapons and one former Jet (Jonathan Vilma) dying to make a statement.
The Jets have to come out strong and learn quick. It's been five years since they had a winning record over the first 4 games of the season. Four straight mediocre at best starts to the season really digs a hole. And changing location and putting these guys in an environment to connect, it only solidifies the team.
Yes, Cortland may be a bit of a trek for fans, but it's worth it for you ... and hopefully worth it for the Jets.