AFC East: Muhammad Ali

Green-Ellis trains on Ali's hallowed ground

April, 12, 2011
Float like a butterfly, sting like a Law Firm.

Boston Herald reporter Ian R. Rapoport has revealed one of the more interesting conditioning stories of the lockout.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been working out at the historic 5th Street Gym in Miami Beach. That's the workshop where Muhammad Ali honed his craft under trainer Angelo Dundee.

"There's a lot of great tradition at the gym," Green-Ellis told Rapoport. "You really have to check it out. And when I leave there, I'm drenched from head to toe like I hopped out of the swimming pool."

All boxers need a nickname, and Green-Ellis already has one of the NFL's best: the Law Firm because of the way his name reads.

Patriots fans with an affinity for the Sweet Science will get a jolt out of seeing the photos of Green-Ellis that ran with the story.

Green-Ellis works out at the 5th Street Gym five days a week on top of his regular football training. He decided to try boxing as a way to push himself beyond and to improve his footwork.

"They really put me through it," Green-Ellis said of the 5th Street Gym staff. "There's no sitting down. I like it, and it's especially good for my core. That's where it starts. Working on hand-eye coordination, my footwork in there, keeping up my good cardio, different things for my shoulders -- it helps out. And I like being able to hit the pads. They push me to my limits and past my limits."

He hasn't sparred yet, and might not ever. He said he doesn't have dreams of being a prizefighter like Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski.

Dundee's head trainer, Matt Baiamonte, noted Green-Ellis is a dedicated student of the sport, a trait Bill Belichick certainly recognized with football. Green-Ellis overcame not being drafted and waived multiple times to become the AFC East's only 1,000-yard rusher last season.

"He picks it up really quick," Baiamonte said, mentioning the pros who train at the gym. "David Haye, Andre and Anthony Dirrell, they're amazed with his progress.

"What I really like about Ben is, if I mention a fighter's name, he actually goes home and finds stuff on YouTube and studies the fighters. He'll say, 'In this fight, he did this,' and 'I've been practicing this.'

"If only I could get some of my fighters to do that."

Reggie Jackson slams Jets for smack talk

January, 13, 2011
The man who once called himself "the straw that stirs the drink" in the Bronx is advising the New York Jets to chill out.

New York Yankees legend Reggie Jackson thinks the Jets should shut up and concentrate on getting ready for Sunday's playoff game against the New England Patriots.

Jackson actually called in to ESPN 1050 host Michael Kay's show Thursday specifically to blast the Jets for calling out Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Jackson said it's as absurd as insulting Sandy Koufax or Tom Seaver or Jack Nicklaus before playing them.

"What are you talking about? What are you doing? Shut up! Play football!" Jackson said.

Jackson, a Baseball Hall of Famer, played football at Arizona State before switching full-time to the diamond.

He was particularly agitated by Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie calling Patriots Brady an "ass----" and Jets head coach Rex Ryan for making fun of Brady. Ryan jabbed Brady for seeing the Broadway play "Lombardi" on Saturday night instead of watching the Jets beat the Indianapolis Colts.

Kay asked Jackson if he ever talked smack to an opponent.

"For what?" Jackson replied incredulously. "So that Don Sutton or Tom Seaver or Jerry Koosman or somebody would bear down harder on me? They're tough enough! And what's that make me? It makes me a fool.

"There are only two guys that made predictions. One guy did it every week that he fought in the '60s, and that was Ali, and he was real. He truly was the greatest. The other guy made one prediction in his career. It was a fluke, and it worked: Joe Namath.

"The greatest players in history, Woods, Nicklaus -- name all the greats -- Jimmy Brown, Johnny Unitas, Montana. They don't run their mouth. The wannabes, the imitations do."

Jackson admitted he generally gets a kick out of Ryan, but Mr. October scolded Cromartie like a Mr. December.

"Go look at the hardware, dude," Jackson said of the Patriots' success. "Walk through the lobby up there and look at the stuff that's there. You don't have that. You don't have anything close to it.

"Shut up. You might learn something. Read. You might figure something out. Watch film. You might get educated. If not, you got a chance to get embarrassed on Sunday. I hope you don't because I like the Jets."

Jackson later added: "You don't know what he's talking about because you've never won. So don't tell me how he thinks. You don't know. Acknowledge that. That's not my opinion. That's fact."

I can't wait to hear what Mike Richter has to say about all this.