Today's sixth annual New York Jets Charity Golf Classic had an unusually good number of storylines for a money-raising best-ball fivesome tournament.
There was the lush setting of Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, N.J., and the dark, angry rainclouds that lifted before the scramble start and kept skirting the pitch all afternoon.
Kicker Jay Feely, the scratch golfer, was playing in his first classic, since he came to the Jets only last September. Would he and his team demonstrate their mastery of the little white ball for the rest of the 30-plus current and former players and front office golfers, plus the field of amateur participants?
And what of that front office team, actually a foursome led by the competitive general manager, Mike Tannenbaum? Would they rule the roost this year?
But one of the littlest Jets would produce the biggest statement of all. Danny Woodhead, all 5'9" and 200 pounds of him, and his team reigned supreme.
"I was just going out there to relax and have some fun," said the 24-year-old record-setting running back from Chadron State College about the career-killing prospect of beating out one of your bosses for the title at the organizational golf event of the year. "I'm blaming it on my teammates for making putts."
In fact, all the members of Woodhead's Tzell Travel fivesome that included John LeBaron, Jerry Behrens, Greg O'Hara and Greg Lockard were getting it done all day. Roughly at the midway point, Feely and his Eisner LLP team (Mike Gerstle, Lester Marks, Michael Breit and Tom Clarke) seemed to have control of the 18-hole event at 6-under through nine holes.
But James Ihedigbo's State Farms Insurance quintet (Tom McLaughlin, Gregg Engelbreth, John Garfinkle and Brian Downes) were lurking one off the pace, as was Team Woodhead.
The details were fuzzy due to lack of videocams around the course, but the almost instantaneous BlackBerry scoring system told the unfolding story:
Through 11 holes, Woodhead and Ihedigbo caught Feely at minus-6. Then Woodhead surged to minus-8. Then Mike T's foursome (Murray Felzer, Bob Greene, Bob Miller) moved into contention, one off the lead.
The telling hole for Team Woodhead was the par-5 eighth, a sweeping fairway that presents a seemingly difficult third shot on the uphill approach.
Woodhead struck his wedge and rolled his ball to within seven feet of the pin.
"It wasn't that hard a shot," Woodhead aw-shucksed. "It's a lot easier when you know if you do miss it, you have four other guys who can make that shot. So it was pretty easy."
LeBaron was the golfer who sank the putt, giving them a birdie on their final hole to put them at 11-under 59. Team Tannenbaum fell back into an ultimate three-way tie, with a match of cards giving second place to Feely and Eisner LLP and third to Ihedigbo and State Farm Insurance.
As golfers, football players tend to fall into two camps. Many of the Jets, for instance, only play golf once a year, at this event. And most of the best NFL players are either quarterbacks or kickers.
Woodhead breaks that mold. He explained his upbringing on the game as a child in Nebraska.
"I guess I've been playing probably since around 8 years old. I've been playing for a long time," he recalled. "Grandpa got me into it and I've loved it ever since and it's something I do every summer. There's a public course in North Platte called Iron Eagle Golf Course, and Lake Maloney Golf Course also. I grew up playing those two and those two only. I have a lot of great memories golfing."
He just added to them with a small but neat victory at this Jets event today. His head coach, Rex Ryan, knew he could do it all along.
"Danny's a great athlete," said Ryan, who greeted the fivesomes as they came to the 16th tee right and swatted 3-woods and 3-irons over the water of the par-3. "And when you watch him, I think he's got a great swing. His swing looks different from the other guys. He and Feely probably have the best swings on the team.
"No surprise. He's successful, that's him, and he finds ways to get it done," Ryan said.
Woodhead now returns to the challenge of winning a roster spot after spending all of his rookie season on injured reserve. He's fighting to stick at running back, which got a lot more crowded with the return of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington to practices, and as a returner, which also has numbers with Washington and Jim Leonhard having had punt-return success.
But don't be surprised if one of Nebraska's favorite sons doesn't take an approach similar to the one he took for winning this best-ball event.
"You've got to have a lot of partners that can hit the ball well, too, so that made things a lot easier for me," he said. "I wouldn't say it's necessarily easy, but it was definitely a lot of fun."
The Jets raised about $250,000 from today's event, with proceeds going to the New York Jets Foundation. The foundation has raised more than $9 million over the years for a variety of causes, and today's event lifts the Jets' six charity golf classic's total money raised to over $1 million.