Jets using boxing trainer to motivate team

Physical contributions by the likes of Kevan Barlow, Shaun Ellis, Chad Pennington, Mike Nugent, Jerricho Cotchery, Laveranues Coles and Dewayne Robertson helped the Jets knock out the mighty Patriots on November 12th.

But it may have been the inspiring words of renowned boxing trainer, commentator and author Teddy Atlas which might have programmed the collective team psyche to succeed against the formidable Super Bowl champions.

Atlas, a Staten-Island New York resident, exclusively explains his experience of working with the Jets:

"It was nice to talk with the Jets, Eric Mangini is a gentleman, Mike Tannenbaum is a gentleman. They called me up, asked if I would talk to the team. You talk about boxing, football, the techniques are different but the idea of dealing with certain things, confronting certain things - that's all the same. Really, it's about being able to control yourself in those circumstances. Whether it's on the football field with some big guys coming at you, or whether it's in the ring with one guy coming at you - which is even more difficult. It's about what choices you make."

The man who helped train an amateur knockout machine named Mike Tyson and who later gained worldwide recognition for cornering Michael Moorer to a 1994 upset of heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, knew just what to say to a roomful of professional football players.

"When I talked to them, I talked about - it's not about your ability to run a 4.1 in the 40 or bench press 600 pounds in the weight room. It's the ability that everyone has the chance to do - your ability to make choices under pressure. Your ability to behave like a pro."

"Before the New England game, all I said was, Eric had told me - I didn't even realize they had lost seven times in a row - so Eric said, Could you just touch on that. I said to them, You know what Tyson's greatest asset was? Guys his greatest strength was other people's weaknesses. Buster Douglas didn't go to Tibet and bite into the root of a strange plant, and find a magic...you know what he did? He fought him. I said, Instead of just allowing themselves to be defeated without fighting 'em, so I said, Why don't you just go out and play New England?"

"And we talked about the story in my book about this kid Made Moore, he was 12-years-old. And he came to me in the gym. And he used to get his lunch money taken every day by a bully named Goo. So I just talked about that. Whatever you have to do, it's only gonna last a few minutes. But when you don't do it, and the way you feel when you go home, having not done it, that lasts forever. That goes on and on and on. But if you deal with Goo, how long can it last? How long can it last? A couple of minutes."

"Then basically I looked at the team. How long could it last? 60 Minutes? Anyway, after the game Coach Mangini called me up, he's just a gentleman, he knows what to do, what direction he needs to be in with this team. And what it is they need to embrace. He's doing a terrific job. And he called me up and he just thanked me for talking to the team. He said, Did you see the game? Did you see the New England game? I said, Yeah, congratulations. He said, Teddy, I just want to tell you one thing. Just one story. That's all I gotta tell you. He said Shaun Ellis was coming off the field - he said he played his best game he ever played - and (Ellis) said, coming off the field, a reporter came up to him and he said, What was different this time? And Shaun looked at him and said, We got tired of having them take our lunch money."

Legendary boxing trainer Angelo Dundee once said, "Once you win the psychological fight, the physical fight is easy."

After the success in New England, Coach Mangini asked Atlas to speak to the team again.

"Chicago? I said, Can't you get me a Butterbean [smiles] or something (soft) as an opponent? It's gotta be the Bears [smiles]? So (on the night before the Bears game) I went again and talked to them again. And we showed some fight film that I thought would be very good for them. A very rare one, one that you wouldn't think of. And they (Jets office) tracked it down. I said, You guys are a bunch of bloodhounds. It was unbelievable how they tracked it down. It was a fight from 30 years ago, in Philadelphia, between Eugene 'Cyclone' Hart and Vito Antuofermo. I was in the locker room, so I gave them my perspective of it."

Antuofermo won that bloodbath brawl against Hart via a 5th round KO in 1977. But the Jets came up just short in the second half against the mighty Bears, 10-0.


Jets Insider Top Stories