On Cheesesteaks, Chicken Wings and a Japanese-Made Eating Machine

Last week many of you might have noticed that Steiny ran the show for a few days, while I was conspicuously absent.  Anyone who might have cross-checked that with my Twitter feed might have noticed random pictures of places in Philadelphia, photos of competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi at Wing Bowl or me holding a giant check.  What did that have to do with TheJetsBlog.com?

Nothing.  Absolutely nothing at all.

But I wanted to take the time to explain something that’s been rattling around in my head for some time and is starting to seep out of me creatively. I love this site, and I intend to keep on doing it for a long time, but I hoped to share another passion I have because I know you have it too and because I’m going to need your help.  Bear with me and I’ll explain below.

So where does this story even begin?

For years, I’ve been lucky enough to take some time from my real job to get up close and personal with athletes.  Even today whenever I get the chance to talk with Jim Leonhard by phone, or scribble down notes at Dustin Keller’s locker, I realize what an insane dream world I get to live in.  It was always fascinating to interact with these people, and in some way it’s become quite addictive.  It’s also something that I feel honor-bound to share with you, hoping that readers get to vicariously live through me during something like Draft weekend, or inside the ropes at training camp … so that in some way you own the experience just as much as I do.  No bullshit, there’s a responsibility there for me, one that I take seriously and I hope comes across to readers.

Still, with all that, I get that I’m still an interloper.  I’m not there doing this every day of the year.  So time and time again, while the hordes of reporters would swarm one way, I’d try to skirt another.  For example, back in 2008 right after the slim victory to the Chiefs in the Meadowlands, I remember approaching Calvin Pace.  Pace was alone and changing at his locker, I asked if he’d talk.  He said sure, I asked him about why it was such a close game … the Jets were the better team?  Why was the win so hard to come by?  Pace took a deep breath, arched backwards,  looked up at the ceiling and exhaled.  I knew this was going to be good.

Pace started talking about how the Jets were making it hard on themselves, and in seconds the bee swarm of reporters enveloped us.   It was really that quick. While he never backed down off what he said, his demeanor was already changing as the crowd attracted a greater crowd.  More cameras, more pens and pads.  I felt self-conscious, and jostled my way out of the crowd.  Just like that, our little moment of genuine personal exchange was gone.  Discarded on the floor like so much athletic tape.

No for real.  If you’ve never been there, the floor of the locker room after a game is like walking on flypaper.  It’s crazy tacky.

The problem of course is that when athletes have a camera and microphone shoved in their face that is tethered at the other end to news outlets with millions of viewers, then amplified by a three day ESPN echo chamber of sports analysts, their guard goes up … way up.  This holds true for most athletes, maybe with the exception of Bart Scott.

The Jets season of Hard Knocks was the turning point for me.  My interview with HBO Sports’ Ross Greenburg planted a seed in my brain.  Seeing what the lives of athletes are like behind the scenes was revelatory.  Sure, I’d seen Hard Knocks before, but it made all the difference in the world because I cared about the Jets.  Even if I didn’t care, I realize how powerful telling these stories are to people who are less attached.  There’s a reason the Olympics does those magazine pieces on the down-on-his-luck member of the US Curling team.  I wanted to know more about athletes, and I started thinking about ways to become part of that process beyond my writing.  There had to be some way for that to link up …

Fast forward a year and a half.

The Jets season is a smoldering heap, and I’m starting to talk to people trying to feel out a concept I’ve been thinking about since last October.  How about a documentary style web-based series on the lives of athletes following them during an interesting day?  I started lobbing calls to my Blogs With Balls / Hugging Harold Reynolds pal Don Povia since he’s a walking rolodex.  I wanted to stretch myself and get away from the Jets.  How far could I get?  I tell Don my idea, he thinks about it and asks …

“Hey, why don’t you come up to Philly and follow Takeru Kobayashi around during Wing Bowl?”

Wing Bowl?  Competitve eating’s version of the Convention of the Juggaloes? With Takeru Kobayashi? The non-native English-speaking Nathan’s hot dog vacuum?  That’s certainly about as far away from the Jets as possible … what could possibly go wrong?!?

Two weeks ago, I had no camera crew.  I had no video production expertise.  I know nothing about competitive eating.  I’ve got no idea what I’m doing … how do you plan for something like this?  How stupid is this idea for someone like me to try and make happen?

After a few panic attacks and many phone calls to people much smarter than I who told me they liked the idea of the project, followed by some mad scrambling, I got a few awesome camera people to help.  Frank, David and Rich were all eager, and rose to the challenge.  We meet in Philly, linked up with Takeru Kobayashi and the rest of Team Kobi on his way to destroying the Wing Bowl record.  We followed him around for more than a day, accumulating tons of footage as he readied himself for Wing Bowl: meeting fans, getting weighed in before the event (he weighed 138 pounds, less than half of many of his opponents), discussing business with his manager, and hanging with pals like owner of the East Village’s Crif Dogs, and one of Philly’s proudest sons, Tony Luke.

One of my favorite moments was when I asked Kobi what his proudest record was.  He told me during a competition he once gained about 26 pounds.  I’m thinking he did it in days, and followed up.

Over how long a period?

“45 minutes”

Of course there were challenges, but in the end, we had a great time, and now we’re in editing to come up with the pilot for this series.   I honestly can’t wait to share it with you.  Even if you don’t care about competitive eating (I didn’t) it’s going to be good.  I just know it.  Once editing it down is done, the next step is going to be getting this “out there” … see what the response is and then of course doing this again and again and again with other athletes in other sports, in other cities (New York?).  This could be really, really fun.

So this is where you all come in.   I’m going to need all the support you can muster.  I am personally asking you if you are reading this to help me with this process.

It would be good it if you will watch the final product, but I would love it if you can help me get this out there on Facebook or Twitter once we drop the video.  It would be otherworldly if you know a story I should know.  It would be intergalactic if you  can connect me to your childhood best friend who now happens to play for the Chicago Blackhawks and might be up to being the subject of another episode.  You guys are my network, and I’m going to need all the help I can get.  Trust me, every little bit will help, every tweet, Facebook link share and we are going to succeed with this project together.

If you have any suggestions, let me know.  Email me at thejetsblog@gmail.com if you can think of a way to help.  No idea is too small, we’re going to need all the help we can get, and my hope is that you will be a big part of it.

So that’s it for now.

More very soon and I’ll try and keep from tainting TJB too much with this project, but I didn’t want this to be a big secret or anything like that either.

I want you to be part of the adventure with me, just like all our other adventures together.  I really hope you’ll come along for this ride … it’s going to be a lot of freaking fun and I can’t think of anyone better to share it with.

93 comments
ceeboogie
ceeboogie

Bargnani should get less minutes. He's needs to be another big coming off the bench who can score. We need Chandler, Stat and Kenyon in heavy rotation with Tyler/Bargnani playing 10/15 min. a game. 

You can feature Melo, Stat and Bargani on offense via Pops and Rolls, plus Melo + Amare mixing it up low-post. Chandler can pick and roll and Chandler/Kenyon/Tyler can play weak side.


Knicks need to sustain an aggressive offense, three guards on the perimeter ready to shoot, drive or pass. 


Simple. 


Defense. You have to want it, it can't be taught, if don't stay in front of your man, if you lose your man, you don't stay on the floor.


Make meaningful adjustment and exploit the other team's weaknesses. Be prepared to mitigate yours during the game. If the Coach can't motivate the team, then they are not the coach.

Chris
Chris

Our DA coach stated that he don`t know if he is ready to play. Hey jerk, you have lost 21 games, you have the third worst record in the NBA (and could be the worst after Texas) and you don`t know if your going to play him. Why not, don`t know all the switches that you claim you don`t use? Rooks gotta sit and learn? Aint learning nothin from you, you can`t coach. Knight and Brown gotta be dying that you are associated with them. You are a dysfunctional idiot that has been faking the whole deal, and now its coming down on your head. I knew when I first saw your inability to even defend the pick and roll. There are 5 or 6 ways to defend it, and the best methodology is to change up  to keep the offense off balance. Your guys do the 1 5 switch constantly. Don`t try and lie your way out of that I watched you in ATla, and for almost 2 years here. I don`t care how Doldrums media guys tried to get you out of it, I have watched. If you had balls, you would at least man up instead of throwing your players under the bus, as you have done since you have been here. And you expect them to listen to you? I learned from Wooden that players win games and coaches lose them. He I respect, he was a gentleman and a scholar more then a coach, you I have no respect for, maybe that is all Doldrum deserves.

mike23
mike23

Hopefully they signed him to play him, i'd like to see him get legit minutes and see if he can help the team, not just rot on the bench. 

darealeric
darealeric

Great. Now they only have about fifty other things they need to do to make things right.

joeknix
joeknix

Please tell me we signed him with a team option for next year . . . I'm about tired of losing guys like Lin and Copeland to short sighted contracts.

jeandd323
jeandd323

Hopefully the Chris Smith curse will be lifted - LOL

SheSaidSpikeWho
SheSaidSpikeWho

Hey Biggie, metta said amare had the blood spinning procedure over the summer. I remember you saying that he prob had something like that done. I believe metta lol. He told us before the rest of the knicks staff did that: metta would play a little that one game, shump would play on his bruised thigh, jr had the flu, and melo would miss 3 games. Lol

NYKnickerBocker
NYKnickerBocker

In related news...


Jeremy Tyler breaks finger while signing contract.  Out 2 - 4 weeks.

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

In about 11 hours or less, Biggie will be telling how our Knicks are undefeated in 2014.

BigChiefTriangle
BigChiefTriangle

This is great news.  If I'm remembering things correctly, signing Chris Smith rather than Tyler cost the Knicks exclusive rights to Tyler - any team could've picked up Tyler in the past couple months.  Great to see that (needless) gamble didn't rob the Knicks of a young big with upside.

lobcity
lobcity

Im excited bc i like the his guy, but i must keep in mind that with Woodson as the coach we will still suck.

fasheezee
fasheezee

I think JR is going tank somewhat in some juvenile tantrum over his bro. The Knicks need to get rid of him if he does that.

moneyball
moneyball

Next week Tyler will become untradable on this blog.LMAO

rico
rico

That's a ridiculous statement, Lin and Cope were both scrubs nearly cut. Knicks had plenty of time and opportunity to re-sign both...

BigChiefTriangle
BigChiefTriangle

@xmenreturn 

#DivisionWatch2014 sponsored by Mike Woodson

lobcity
lobcity

Its ok. We were smart drafting another sg. We don't need him.

fasheezee
fasheezee

@moneyball The Knicks cannot afford to trade any player that's even half azz good. They don't have much leverage.

VerySilentJay
VerySilentJay

@OLD_KNICK @xmenreturn One of the many reasons this place isn't what it used to be. Apparently, people aren't entitked to their own opinions without getting called out by those who differ...

moneyball
moneyball

@knicks50 @moneyball I hope so! However, I doubt it. This team will continue to disappoint until we have an above average PG.

VerySilentJay
VerySilentJay

@lennynyk Sure, no doubt, but it's not the point. It's about being able to have healthy discussion and disagreements.

It's about having the maturity to discuss like adults even though you see the game in opposite ways.  

lennynyk
lennynyk

@VerySilentJay@OLD_KNICK@xmenreturn listen when u post your opinion online, u best be prepared to defend it haha . its the way of the world

VerySilentJay
VerySilentJay

@DolanitisDr We really don't know whether players  have asked for guidance or not. to say "they do" or "they do not" is pure conjecture.

That said, Clyde did say last season that he had talked to Shump during his recovery. He just didn't go into detail.

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@DolanitisDrSo True. I've been saying this for years.  They can also just review the MSG rewind of the games and listen to Clyde breaks down the game and how a player should be playing against an opposing players.

It seems so many of these players are not students of the game. 

BigChiefTriangle
BigChiefTriangle

@xmenreturn @lennynyk @lobcity You'd think dudes like Shump would just, you know, walk over and ask for some advice now and then .... can't believe we don't hear more about this with the team's guards.  The man is just a few seats away.

xmenreturn
xmenreturn

@lennynyk@xmenreturn@lobcityMaybe but he sure knows what is ailing our team and what the players should be doing on the floor.  


That's 100% more than Woody knows.


Besides he knows about winning rings in NYC.

lennynyk
lennynyk

@lobcity can we hire that report analyst guy from the nets? whats his name? something frank

lennynyk
lennynyk

@DolanitisDr@Kojo Brown@lennynyk yeah dolantis, its ridiculous. On top of that when he was on atlanta, he had one of the youngest and most athletic squads in the game and yet his team played the slowest pace in the nba. Guess what it was... half court ISO...

lennynyk
lennynyk

@Kojo Brown@lennynyk@DolanitisDr haha really. i love how read "Coaching For Dummies" about a week ago, right after the game when he didn't call the timeout against the wizards, and started making offense/defense subs in the 4th quarter lol.

BigChiefTriangle
BigChiefTriangle

@Kojo Brown @lennynyk @DolanitisDr 

The funniest was Woodson's claim that he didn't endorse switching - um, so why has EVERY team you have coached switched screens more frequently than most NBA teams?!?  Either Woody is flat-out lying or his teams have NEVER listened to him.

lennynyk
lennynyk

@DolanitisDr i feel like woody wouldn't know what to do with an all star pg either. He'd just be like ok chris paul, if you're not gonna be scoring off of isolation plays, give the ball to JR

BigChiefTriangle
BigChiefTriangle

@lennynyk It all depends on the team.  As constructed, THIS Knicks team does need an all-star PG.  Some teams, due to their roster construction and offensive philosophy, do not. 

lennynyk
lennynyk

@moneyball@lennynyk@knicks50 the heat do, so do the pacers. those pg's ain't above average . the bulls did it last year. The knicks did it last year. You don't need an all star PG.