What is it about Cortland, New York that makes the New York Jets tick?
The small town in central New York with a population of less than 20,000 has become a home away from home each summer since 2009, when Rex Ryan first became the Jets’ head coach.
That is, each summer but one.
Last year, thanks to the NFL lockout, the Jets were unable to make their annual trek up to Cortland, which Ryan believes has become an essential team bonding experience that he does not take for granted.
Cortland is a secluded, small college town with not many distractions, and nothing much for the Jets to do other than get to know their teammates and coaches.
The State University of New York at Cortland, the local school with Division III athletics, lends their dorms and football facilities out to the Jets each year, and it’s been a perfect match for all.
“Since I’ve been the head coach, our time in Cortland has been very important to the development of our football team both on and off the field,” Ryan said.
“The support that we receive from the college is top-notch and the time that we spend in that environment enables us to focus on getting better while learning about each other and drawing closer together as a team.”
Team chemistry is something that often gets overlooked in the NFL. That is, until a team doesn’t have any.
Perhaps it’s merely coincidence that the 2011 Jets team who missed out on Cortland was not as close as previous years and had rifts in the locker room between players and coaches alike.
But maybe it’s not. Whatever the reason for the Jets’ in-house problems last season, changes have been made, and Ryan believes that a trip to Cortland for a few weeks is part of the remedy towards fixing all that.
The Jets have their state of the art facility in Florham Park, New Jersey that they’ll practice at during the season. But starting Thursday, July 26, they’ll call Cortland home.
Saturday, July 28 at SUNY Cortland, they will have their first public practice, and the Jets will remain in Cortland for a few weeks until they return to Florham Park in mid-August.
August 21, they’ll spend one day of practice at Hofstra University, which is an annual tradition going back many years when the Jets held their entire training camp there.
The Cortland camp may be something small to outsiders, but to the Jets it means a lot. Hopefully, it means getting back on track and laying the foundation for a return to the postseason. The goal is the same, as always.