There are quite a few things you can buy with $64 million dollars.
You can buy ten Lear jets; For $30 million you can buy a mansion on 14.6 acres of waterfront property in the Hamptons (with $64 million you can buy two mansions, and keep the change); At just under $2 million a pop, you can buy thirty used Formula One Ferraris, tires included. Or, you can take three trips into outer space aboard the Russian Soyuz space craft, compliments of Russia’s space program (only two space tourists — Californian businessman Dennis Tito and South Africa Internet millionaire Mark Shuttleworth — have so far been willing to pay the $20 million dollar fee).
Do you like motivational speakers? Herman Edwards will charge you a mere $20,000 a lecture- that means it will only take him 3200 sessions to motivate you. But assuredley, your $64 million bucks will be well spent.
Of course, you don’t really have $64 million dollars, so you’re not faced with any of these options on how to spend it. Terry Bradway, GM of the NY Jets, had $64 million dollars, compliments of owner Woody Johnson, and, in 2003, he gave it to QB Chad Pennington. Over the past two seasons, Chad Pennington has had his moments, but at other times he’s made us think perhaps the money would have been better spent on Russian rocket rides to the moon. Chad’s off-season surgery on his shoulder did nothing to alleviate those thoughts. There were reports before the summer that Chad couldn’t even brush his teeth with his throwing arm. Training camp started and it was reported he couldn’t throw the ball more than 40 yards; he could not participate in two a days. The pre-season began, and Chad did not participate in the first exhibition game. The cynics were all wondering if he was damaged goods.
The moment of truth arrived last Friday night, in the Meadowlands, against the Minnesota Vikings. On the Jets first offensive series, the Jets ran three offensive plays and punted. On the second possession, the same thing. At this point, every Jet fan who was watching the game had to be thinking the same thing– Terry Bradway gave this guy $64 million dollars? And then something magical happened. It was like watching Willy Wonka greeting Charlie for the first time outside the Chocolate Factory. Chad Pennington made his entrance and approached us as if he were a gimp– but it was all an act. Because on the third possession, Chad Pennington threw a pass that was the most dramatic and significant pass of his career: a 50 yard bomb to Justin McCareins–and it was an incompletion.
On that play, Horton heard a Hoo, Pigs flew, and snow men were being built in Hell.
It was an incompletion, during an exhibition game, but something magical happened at that moment. And something even more profound happened, a few plays later, when the words “Pennington to Coles for a TD” were spoken by Jim Nance and Phil Simms.
Pennington was done for the evening. But the magic wasn’t over. Within two minutes, Minnesota’s Michael Bennett had the ball stripped by rookie NT Sione Pouha, and back up QB Jay Fiedler would throw a TD strike to Wayne Chrebet. Mike Heimerdinger’s offense was a polar opposite of Paul “we’ll just punt the ball and get it back later” Hackett. The Jets offense scored 14 points in two minutes. There were stretches last season when the Jets offense didn’t score 14 points in two games.
Defense was another story. The laundry was perpetually flying on the Vikings offensive linemen, negating first down after first down, derailing the Vikings offense. The Vikings finished with nine penalties for 75 yards in the first half. In spite of that, the Vikings offense still managed a TD drive from their own 34-yard line. On the second play of that series, Culpepper was sacked for a 12 yard loss by DB Darrien Johnson. One play later, the Vikings had a first down at the Jets 35.
Daunte Culpepper shredded the Jets secondary.
We’ve seen Chad Pennington’s performance against a much improved Vikings defense. We know he’s back. We know Willy Wonka’s proverbial walking cane was just a ruse.
Now it’s time to see Ty Law –who also had surgery in the offseason– put on a similar performance this upcoming Friday against the NY Giants.
I just hope that following his debut in Jet green, and keeping with my Hollywood metaphors, I’m not conjuring up images of Academy Award winner Daniel Day Lewis in ‘My Left Foot’.