SBD/September 9, 2010/NFL Season Preview

Jets Claim "Hard Knocks" Appearance Has Stimulated PSL Sales

Jets coach Rex Ryan and his staff "have altered the way people look at the Jets and given the team an unexpected marketing boost as they move into the New Meadowlands Stadium," and the team indicated that some fans have cited the Jets' appearance on HBO's "Hard Knocks" as the "reason for finally buying those devilish personal seat licenses," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The final episode of this year's series aired last night, and Jets Exec VP/Business Operations Matthew Higgins said the show "has been intoxicating." Higgins: "When you're engaged in it, you want to be part of it and one of the ways is to buy a PSL. ... I'd like to take credit that 'Hard Knocks' was part of brilliant marketing strategy, but it's just a natural expression of our collective DNA." Sandomir noted the first four episodes of the series "averaged 870,500 viewers in their original runs on Wednesday nights, up from 566,000 last year" when the series featured the Bengals. The Jets' fourth episode on September 1 "hit a first-run peak of 947,000 viewers." Meanwhile, the "promotional dividends produced by 'Hard Knocks' have not been countered by a disastrous injury," as the "worst that happened was Ryan's mother (and Tony Dungy) expressing consternation about the coach's profanity" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/9). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Scott Cacciola writes under the header, "'Hard Knocks' Hit A Homer." The series was a "spectacle that raised the Jets' already high profile," and was "nothing short of captivating television." The production "required the cooperation of the team," and Jets CB Drew Coleman said, "We enjoyed them being around. They kind of were like family after a while." But Jets RB Danny Woodhead "didn't watch the show." Woodhead: "I don't want to say I have better things to do, but ... I mean, I know what goes on at practice, and I watch the film of practice, so there's no great mystery" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/9).

FITTING FINALE: In N.Y., Steve Serby writes last night's "compelling finale" was the "Darrelle Revis Show, the agony and the ecstasy of the holdout who held the [Jets'] summer hostage" (N.Y. POST, 9/9). In Newark, Jenny Vrentas notes "no cameras were present for the South Florida lunch meeting" Saturday between Ryan, Jets Owner Woody Johnson, Revis and his mother and uncle, but viewers did see Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum "talk to Ryan about making the trip" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 9/9). ESPN N.Y.'s Rich Cimini wrote the finale "doesn't break any new ground in the Revis saga, but it puts pictures and words to events already reported." Ryan's "well-chronicled tirade at Darrelle Revis' agents ... was every bit as juicy as it was portrayed in media accounts" (ESPNNEWYORK.com, 9/8).

HOW IT PLAYED OUT: Prior to signing Revis, Tannenbaum told Johnson that Revis' camp "remain convinced that we will either fold after week two or we'll trade him next year." Johnson said, "They don't know me very well." Johnson then spoke to the camera alone, "I've been at this for 11 years so I've been through a lot of players. This has gone on longer than most." Back in the offices, Tannenbaum told Johnson, "Their response is, 'Next year, you'll be fed up with it.'" Johnson: "I'm fed up with it now. Why would I be any more fed up with it next year?" After Revis signed a four-year, $46M deal, Ryan said, "That was three days of hell ... but we got it done" ("Hard Knocks," HBO, 9/8). However, ESPN N.Y.'s Cimini notes, "It was disappointing they didn't show more footage from the final, tense moments of the Revis negotiation. It would've been nice to see the final phone call between the Jets and Revis' agents. It's almost like they ran out of time at the end, trying to squeeze in too much" (ESPNNEWYORK.com, 9/9).

CREATIVE LICENSE? In N.Y., Manish Mehta reported there was "perhaps a bit of creative editing by NFL Films during the clip that showed third-string fullback Jason Davis opting out of his reps." Moments after the scene, Davis tweeted, "I didn't turn the rep down that's when I hurt my ankle! Damn Hardknocks thanx a lot." If Davis' account is true, it is "probably not the first time," as Jets CB Antonio Cromartie previously "suggested similar HBO hijinks when he was asked to recite the name of his children twice" (NYDAILY NEWS.com, 9/8).

REX IN EFFECT: On Long Island, Neil Best writes the series "mostly was the Rex Ryan show from the start, and it remained Ryan's show to the end" (NEWSDAY, 9/9). NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said of Ryan's frequent use of profanity on the show, "Obviously, at times you are going to get language that is not appropriate for all ages and it's something that I guess we are not proud of, but it is the reality of camps. That is why that show is so popular. In fact, one of the things that's interesting is that show is most popular with the casual fan that really doesn't get the opportunity to see what happens in football and it's intriguing to them" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 9/8). The N.Y. TIMES MAGAZINE's Nicholas Dawidoff profiles Ryan, writing, "All summer, Ryan continued to kick every hornet's nest he saw, and when his bravado went national on HBO's training-camp documentary 'Hard Knocks,' even good-natured sorts like ... Tony Dungy and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady turned vespine." Ryan's "comeuppance is now ardently wished for in those American communities in possession of couches or barstools, but there's a lot more to him than big and talk." Dawidoff: "In the wary, standardized world of the NFL, the unrestrained Ryan may be the best football coach this side of the Patriots' Bill Belichick. Without question, Ryan is the man players across the NFL most want to play for" (N.Y. TIMES MAGAZINE, 9/12 issue).

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