Kerry Rhodes, Eric Mangini
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

The brilliant turned frustrating story of the 2008 New York Jets is one the fans try not to remember yet can’t help to at times.

The surprise arrival of a legend, the fall of a longtime rival, a rollercoaster ride with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and a twist ending that would redefine the entire future of a franchise.

I’m Scott Mason, and this is the story of the 2008 New York Jets.

Before we talk about 2008, though, let’s backtrack a little bit for the sake of a proper perspective.

The 2005 season was a mess for the Jets. The team went 4-12 amongst a litany of horrors: starting quarterback Chad Pennington was lost for the year in a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars after having torn his shoulder for a second time. His backup, Jay Fiedler, was also lost for the year later in that same game. Forty-one-year-old Vinny Testaverde was called in out of retirement, but he simply could not produce capable results the way he had in the past. He was eventually replaced by former sixth-round pick Brooks Bollinger, who would prove to be in way over his head.

New York Jets v Carolina Panthers
CHARLOTTE, NC – NOVEMBER 13: Brooks Bollinger #5 of the New York Jets reacts to throwing his fourth interception to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 13, 2005 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Craig Jones/Getty Images)

Adding insult to injury, both figuratively and literally, two of the Jets’ longest-tenured offensive stars—wide receiver Wayne Chrebet and running back Curtis Martin—would suffer season-ending injuries later that year—injuries that would sadly turn out to be career-enders for both men.

The franchise’s future looked bleak, which is why it was no surprise that head coach Herman Edwards wanted out. Despite still being under contract, Edwards was eventually allowed to go join his mentor Carl Pedersen in Kansas City in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick.

Following Edwards’ departure, the flood gates opened. The Jets completely shook up their power structure, demoting general manager Terry Bradway to director of scouting and elevating longtime salary cap guru Mike Tannenbaum to replace Bradway in the general manager’s chair.

The team also hired New England Patriots defensive coordinator Eric Mangini—a close friend of Tannenbaum’s—to be the new head coach. Mangini was young and somewhat inexperienced. He only had one year as a defensive coordinator under his belt, but he was a fresh face and the type of bold choice the Jets desperately needed at that moment.

Early results were strong.

***This is Part 1 of an extended series (for subscribers only) on the 2008 New York Jets, featuring exclusive quotes from Kerry Rhodes and featuring an audio documentary with Rhodes at its conclusion.

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