- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Perhaps never in the history of football has a team attacked a penalty problem quite like this. It's remarkable, really.
Displaying organizational solidarity, the New York Jets have turned a punitive exercise into a phenomenon. It started Wednesday, when every player and every coach were required to do 10 push-ups when a penalty was committed in practice -- everybody except the guilty player. Even Woody Johnson, the Jets' 63-year-old billionaire owner, dropped and did his share of push-ups on the practice field. (This portion of practice was closed to the media.)
Well, that was only the beginning.
Johnson talked to Matt Higgins, the executive vice president of business operations, and mentioned that it would be great for team unity if others got involved in the effort. Higgins fired off an e-mail to everybody in the organization, creating a most unusual scene Thursday at the Jets' facility in Florham Park.
At 3:45, about two hours after practice was over, approximately 60 men and women met outside on a practice field. They formed five rows, about 10 to 15 per row and -- you guessed it -- did push-ups. There were three penalties during practice, so they did 30 push-ups in sets of 10.
Everybody participated -- staff members from sales, marketing, community relations, public relations, football personnel ... everybody. The 10-person sales staff at the New Meadowlands Stadium, located about 30 miles from the practice facility, also got the memo. They, too, dropped for push-ups, doing their duty at the exact same time as the Florham Park crowd.
Push-ups across New Jersey.
The Jets have committed an inordinate number of penalties (63 for 577 yards), and coach Rex Ryan has made it a major point of emphasis.
"We're working hard on penalties and trying to come up with creative ways on these penalties," Ryan said. "We're doing everything we can. We've got video. We're taking things from the NFL [on] how they teach certain penalties. We're showing it to our guys, with our officials. You name it, we're doing it. The whole organization is committed to finding a way to get better at this."
The larger-than-life coach does everything in a big way, and this is no exception.
Once again, Johnson attended practice and, yes, he performed the penalty push-ups with everybody else.
"I wouldn't want to be the cause of my owner having to do push-ups," DT Sione Pouha said with a smile. "But it's something special to see your owner out there, doing the push-ups. It's like he's out there in the trenches with us."
Along with the others. The many others.