With veterans Chad Pennington, Patrick Ramsey, and Brooks Bollinger, along with Kellen Clemens, who had just been drafted, you couldn't throw a penalty flag during the Jets' 2006 training camp without smacking a quarterback.
Selected in the second round out of the University of Oregon, Clemens found himself heading to a whole different world.
"I was excited. I was also a little intimidated," Clemens said. "Sitting in Burns, Oregon, population 3,500 people, that was quite a shock to the system to think, 'OK, now I'm going to New York.' Certainly, it was going be the farthest I've been away from home. And I was married, so my wife was going with me regardless. So you brought an element of that with you.
"I was a northwest guy, born and raised, and then stayed in the northwest for college. So I think just the sheer size of what even was in my mind of what was New York City and everything that comes with it, I think that was the part that was intimidating. It was just very foreign to me.
"But I was excited about the opportunity. I got on (the internet) immediately and read up on Chad and saw that there was probably going to be some commonalities there."
Clemens would discover a Google search didn't do Pennington justice. Even though the four signal-callers were in an open competition to impress first-year head coach Eric Mangini, the veteran went above and beyond to show the rookie the ropes.
"He was absolutely amazing. What an incredible person. I mean, husband, father, Christian first, football player second," Clemens said. "You hear a lot about guys that go to, whether it's an organization in general, or just circumstances with other players or a coach, and it affects the trajectory of their career one way or another. Sometimes it's positive, sometimes it's negative. And that's real.
"Being on a roster with Chad Pennington definitely affected the trajectory of my career, but it was only in a positive way. Just the way that Chad treated me set the bar for the standard of how I tried to treat every other young guy that I played with after that. I don't think I probably ever achieved it because Chad set it so high, but he was an open book, very transparent. I have nothing but great things to say about Chad. He's a phenomenal human being."
Pennington, Ramsey, and Bollinger were first, but throughout his time with the Jets, Clemens was always seemingly sharing the quarterback room with veterans. Later on being teammates with Brett Favre and Mark Brunell.
"There's a ton of things that you learn because you come into the NFL and you don't know what you don't know," Clemens said. "It's like I don't even know where the bathroom is, let alone how to actually study film, how to truly prepare for Sundays, what to do with my body, how to manage that in-season, off-season. Managing the business side of the game, that was a whole nother element that just smacked me in the face.
"I learned stuff from Patrick, from Brooks, in that first year. I learned stuff from Favre. I learned stuff from Brunell. But the thing that I learned that was the most impactful was when Chad looked at me and said, 'Listen. This is what you do. This is not who you are.' Growing up, we start to show some level of talent at a position in a sport, and that, unfortunately, becomes in many ways, your identity. And it grows. Who are you without the jersey, without the helmet? I think that gets lost a lot of times."
Clemens' time with the Jets lasted five seasons, 2006-10, and feels the relationships he made are among his fondest memories.
"The other part to get a little bit more specific was the year with Brett Favre," Clemens said. "Because growing up, he was my hero. I mean, he was the guy that I tried to be every day at recess out with all of my buddies. And so to have the chance to play with him, to watch him, to learn from him, and we became at least friends to a certain level. We would go hunting together and spend time kind of messing around in the woods. That was a remarkable year."
Going on to play seven more years with the Rams and the Chargers, what makes Clemens most proud of his career?
"Well, I can hang my hat on the longevity. Twelve years is a pretty good run," he said. "I got cut twice in 2011, and that generally kind of spells the end of it. And I had more years playing after I got cut than I did before. I never was a day one starter, but I always tried to find a way to add value to the team.
"And I tried to invest in the younger players as they would come in, much in the same way that Chad did with me. I tried to explain the ropes, help shorten their learning curve, and help them maybe avoid some of the mistakes that guys make sometimes. Just try to help them get their feet under them and understand what it takes to be successful, what it takes to be a pro."
Now making his home in Idaho with his wife, Nicole, and their four children, for almost the past two years, Clemens has worked as a Partner/Head of Sports with elateus.
"We've got the most comprehensive behavioral assessments in the world. We're using insights which are second to none to help companies recruit, build, and develop high-performing teams," Clemens said. "This tool is making a significant difference in the outputs that we've created from it. It's going to have a resounding effect on athletes, their lives, their transition into college, and into professional athletics. But also, on their on their transition out and how they find fulfilment in that next career.
"The fulfillment for me is twofold. It's helping these athletes make a very insightful decision about what the rest of their life is going to be when they're done. And then the other part is helping the coaches understand how to best engage and motivate each individual athlete.
"This gives the coaches the opportunity, and the athletes the best chance to have their career positively impacted from the moment they show up on campus. That's the part that's the most rewarding for me. Just nurturing those relationships, assisting those relationships, and then helping that athlete find a life after sports where they are going to continue to be fulfilled."