What happened in Bradenton on Tuesday?

Rich Cimini thought he had an exclusive.

The hard-working Daily News reporter flew to Central Florida this week to track down Jets quarterback Chad Pennington, who is rehabiliting his surgical shoulder in Bradenton.

On Tuesday morning, when Pennington arrived at the IMG training complex in Bradenton, there was Cimini waiting for him outside the facility.

While Pennington wasn't happy that Cimini showed up unannounced, he did accomodate him. The reporter interviewed the quarterback over breakfast at the IMG facility. The meeting lasted about 1/2 hour.

So Cimini left that meeting thinking he scored a major coup. Unfortunately for the reporter, his exclusive didn't last long.

Pennington proceeded to set up a phone conference call with some of the other Jets beat reporters, essentially ruining Cimini's exclusive.

Why did Pennington do this to Cimini?

Well, this is his explanation during his opening statement on the conference call.

"[The interview with Cimini], wasn't done in a professional way," said Pennington. "I wanted to handle this in a professional way."

Why is it unprofessional for Cimini to fly to Florida in an attempt to interview the team's franchise quarterback? Isn't that good reporting?

Let's be honest, if Cimini had put in a request with the Jets for the quarterback, he would have been turned down? Cimini deserves credit for his aggressive approach. The stake-out has long been a part of reporting process.

But the bottom line is that Pennington during his one-on-one with Cimini, and his conference call with other beat writers, said he wants to stay a Jet, and is willing to take a paycut.

"I want to be a Jet," Pennington said during the conference call. "I want to finish what we started.

"I'm an optimist. If everything works out the way I think it can work out, I'll be a Jet. If that doesn't happen, that's okay, too, because I've enjoyed my time here. This isn't anything personal against me. The Jets need to do what they think is necessary to take the organization to the next level.

"I've always felt really good about the situation. Although it has been a soap opera in the media, I've never felt that way. I understand where the Jets are coming from and I also understand what I'm trying to accomplish as an individual. ... The Jets are going to come in with the lowest possible offer.

"I believe in a win-win situation and I believe there's a middle ground here where we both can agree upon. I think things have taken a positive step. If I wasn't comfortable with that, then I wouldn't be negotiating. I would've cut it off cold turkey."

The Jets want Pennington to take a signicant paycut from the $9 million he is scheduled to make this upcoming season. A new deal needs to be worked out by March 3, or he could be cut.

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