Echoes from 9.11.01

A few days ago, former Jets coach Herm Edwards, former GM Terry Bradway and three former players were made available on a conference call to discuss the 10-year anniversary of 9-11. As expected, their recollections of that horrible day and time were poignant.

At the time, I was covering the Jets for the New York Daily News. I dug into the archives (my old stories) and pulled out a few quotes -- what the players were saying then, when everything still was raw.

As they mentioned on the call, the Jets voted not to play the following week, risking a forfeit. Ultimately, commissioner Paul Tagliabue decided to postpone the Week 2 games. To this day, I believe the Jets were a driving force behind that decision. In my opinion, native New Yorker Vinny Testaverde, one of us, never stood taller.

Here's what they were saying:

Testaverde (Sept. 12) on the team's first practice for the upcoming Raiders game: "I don't even understand why we're here today. I think all the games should be canceled. This is not what you want to be doing. You want to be mourning the loss of those people and being with their families ... The last thing you want to do is get on a plane to California, knowing that all four planes hijacked were going to California."

Backup safety Nick Ferguson: "I couldn't sleep (Tuesday) night. I was having dreams as though I was one of the victims on that plane."

Testaverde (Sept. 17) on a four-hour visit to Ground Zero from two days earlier: "It touches me deeply, being here in New York and talking to people I know who were in those buildings. They're telling me about the horror stories, telling me about the heroes they witnessed and the people who jumped so they wouldn't burn to death, jumping hand-in-hand." (Testaverde brought a piece of concrete from one of the buildings and showed it to reporters and teammates.)

Testaverde on his late father, a mason, who was involved in the construction of some downtown buildings: "Every time I drove by there, knowing I had a little part in building that city, I'm proud of that. To see those two buildings fall with all those people in it ... they were a symbol of greatness of what we are in America. I don't know if we'll ever see those buildings in our lifetime again."

Curtis Martin, who had a close friend that escaped one of the collapsed buildings in the financial district, on the league's decision to postpone Week 2: "I would've lost respect for anyone who tried to force us to play. It would've been disrespectful. There's nothing they could've said to me that would've legitimized it. That would've been one time you saw Curtis Martin rebel."

Testaverde: "This is America. We mourn, we comfort and we come together. After a period of time, we get back to a normal way of life. It would be hard for us to fly out of LaGuardia and look at that smoke and rubble as we take off, knowing there's people buried in there and people dead in there."

Martin on football's role in the recovery: "People drown out their problems in different ways - some use drugs or fight - but maybe we, as players, can do (something) for them. Football gives a person a chance to smile, a chance to get so caught up emotionally into the game that they can forget about the World Trade Center. Even if it's only for a moment, it serves its purpose."

Edwards (Sept. 18) on the team's trip to Lower Manhattan, where it performed volunteer work to assist in the recovery: "We've seen it on TV and in the newspapers, but that doesn't really describe the look on people's faces who have been working here. I talked to a couple of firemen and I could tell by the look in their eyes they've been working all day and all night."

My memory? The Jets resumed their season Sept. 23, and I remember seeing Jets fans and Patriots fans holding hands during a pre-game tribute at the old Foxboro Stadium. Anybody who knows anything about the rivalry knows the meaning behind that.