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Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Woody Johnson does penalty push-ups at practice

By Rich Cimini

In an effort to curb the penalty plague that has overcome the team, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan is demanding team-wide accountability. And when he says "team," he means the entire team, from top to bottom.

The new edict started Wednesday in practice, and it made for a surreal scene on the field: More than 70 grown men doing push-ups at the same time. That included team owner Woody Johnson, ESPNNewYork.com has learned.

That portion of practice was closed to the media, but here's what happened: When there was a penalty, practice was stopped. At that point, everybody member of the organization was required to drop and do 10 push ups, except for the player who was flagged. That player was forced to watch, probably not the most comfortable feeling, especially with your billionaire employer among the push-up crowd.

The crowd included everybody, from Johnson to GM Mike Tannenbaum to Ryan to the assistant coaches to the players to the trainers to the equipment managers. Even the music men, the staff members responsible for cranking the tunes during practice, participated in the punitive push-ups.

“Mike and I were at practice and wanted to be a part of coach Ryan’s focus on reducing penalties," Johnson said. "When the flag was thrown, everyone on the practice field dropped for 10 push-ups. The perpetrator remained standing for all to see. Day one showed improvement and I think it was a great way for Rex to drive home the point to the players.”

Ironically, this occurred as the Jets are preparing for face their former coach, Eric Mangini, who made the players run penalty laps for penalties and fumbles -- a practice that prompted some players to mock him behind his back.

But Ryan is fed up with the penalties. The Jets were flagged 11 times last week in Detroit, bringing their total to 63 for 577 yards. Only three teams have more penalty yardage than the Jets -- the Oakland Raiders (794), Philadelphia Eagles (652) and the Detroit Lions (596).

"Rex has really made it a big point of emphasis," RG Brandon Moore said. "That's a good thing. If it keeps up, the officials start to think you're that type of team."

The Jets have officials at every practice, but that apparently isn't working. Earlier in the season, Ryan introduced the push-up punishment, but it was limited to specific units. Not anymore. Now if there's a flag, everybody drops.

Maybe it's a good thing beat writers, not all in the best of shape (present company included), aren't allowed to be there.