Sports Beat “The surprising Jets”

The Jets enter their bye week, which is just a shade over the halfway mark of their NFL season, with a 5-4 record. They are certainly not an elite NFL team, as their 49-9 defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals two weeks ago proved, but they have also shown resiliency by beating the NFL perennial powerhouse New Orleans Saints by 26-20 last week and the score did not reflect how dominant the Jets were in that game.

If you had told most Jets fans during the preseason that their team would be 5-4 in early November they probably would have hugged you while crying tears of joy. The conventional wisdom was that Jets head coach Rex Ryan was sure to be fired by new general manager John Idzik at the end of the season. As much as Jets fans had come to loathe QB Mark Sanchez over the last two years, the feeling was that the team would be lucky to win two games once it was learned that he would miss the entire 2013 season with a shoulder injury. It was asking a lot to expect rookie quarterback Geno Smith to win NFL games right out of the starting gate.

Barring a complete second half collapse by Gang Green, it would now seem very likely that Rex Ryan will get a contract extension from Idzik who is well aware that team owner Woody Johnson has long been one of Rex’s biggest boosters.

The best thing that you can say about the 2013 New York City Marathon is that it was like old times as a pair of Kenyans,  Geoffrey Mutai and Priscah Jeptoo, easily won the men’s and women’s divisions on a perfect day for running. New York Road Runners CEO Mary Wittenberg and her team certainly have not had the easiest twelve months. NYRR had to cancel the 2012 race in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy after enduring a torrent of negative public opinion for dragging their feet in canceling the race. The despicable bombings by presumably the Tsarnaev brothers at the 2013 Boston Marathon this past April added a further chill and forced the NYRR to hire a phalanx of security personnel. Of course that was probably more for public relations purposes since it is virtually impossible to safeguard an outdoor 26.2 mile course.

It has been a longstanding tradition for celebrities to run the NYC Marathon as a way of raising money for a charitable endeavor. B-actress Pamela Anderson raised approximately $76,000 for a Haitian relief organization. Bill Rancic, who was the winner of the first season of NBC’s “The Apprentice,” and now co-stars with his wife Giuliana on a reality show on the E! Network, teamed up with Timex to raise funds to help conquer breast cancer.


Rancic says that he is still in touch with Mr. Apprentice himself, Jamaica Estates native Donald Trump. Rancic said that he wasn’t sure if “The Apprentice” would return in the spring and conceded that the show may have run its course. “They still show the first season of the show in various management classes at top business schools,” he said proudly.

Athletic apparel companies have long used the  New York City Marathon as a launching site for new running shoes and this year was no different.

New Balance created a limited edition NYC 990v3 that is a running shoe that is heavy on cushioning and comes in loud blue and orange in honor of the local teams (Mets, Knicks and Islanders) that have used the tandem as their official colors. Skechers signed marathon legend Meb Keflezighi two years ago and this year he is the centerpiece of its humorous “Meb In Black” campaign to promote the company’s snazzy new black & gold addition to its GO Run line of running shoes. Reebok’s Cushion One combines the outer durability of a basketball shoe with a deep cushion of a traditional running shoe.

The running industry is one of the few parts of the billion dollars sports apparel industry where the little guys can compete with the big boys. Altra’s Zero Drop uses the technology that made “Earth Shoes” popular in the ‘70s in that it doesn’t have an elevated heel and it has more room in the front of the foot. Its design may remind you somewhat of clown shoes but it is a godsend for runners who have wide feet. Brooks Running’s Adrenaline GTS and Glycerin lines have long been popular because they are designed to absorb impact of striking the ground akin to shocks on a car. Spira Footwear became famous for putting metal springs in its heels to help reduce joint stress. Its latest springy shoe is the Stringer XLT. Ryka is a company that specializes in women’s running shoes and its Women Fit Pro line have become popular with casual runners because of its quality and $85 price point.

Biz Bash Idea Fest is the annual Javits Center trade show for meeting and event planners. In recent years bowling establishments have been popular for corporate parties as they promote team building and most of them now offer high end cuisine. Indoor car racing may be the next thing as both Pole Position in Jersey City and Grand Prix Racing New York in Mount Kisco were trying to lure those who need an adrenaline rush in the corporate community. For those who like a more sedate, yet very skilled, competition, Gramercy Park’s Society Billiards was trying to remind attendees of the joy of racking them up. I was never a hustler but I do miss the pool parlor that was located for years in the 63rd Drive subway station.

Outdoor events require portable sanitation services. Broad Channel’s Call Ahead was enticing meeting planners by giving out toy trucks with its hysterical advertising slogan, “We’re #1 at picking up #2!”

The annual Kosher Fest held at the Meadowlands Expo last week featured the latest offerings from Manischewitz and Streit’s but there were a number of new companies, including Long Island City-based Frava, which was recently started  by a trio of friends from Colgate University. The name Frava is a mash-up of fruit juice and java as the company claims that it has produced the first line of naturally caffeinated fruit juices. Frava takes extracts from green coffee beans and dissolves them in a variety of fruit juices.

It used to be that companies licensed characters from films for advertising purposes after a movie was proven to be a hit at the box office. Paramount Pictures is taking the opposite approach with its big holiday box office release, Anchorman 2,” by working with corporations ahead of time. Paramount teamed up with Dodge to have Will Ferrell’s character, Ron Burgundy, serve as a pitchman for the car company. Last week, Ben & Jerry’s announced that Burgundy would serve as an endorser for its new Scotchy Scotch Scotch ice cream. Before anyone raises an eyebrow, the scotch in question refers to butterscotch, not whisky.

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