One of the all-time great New York Jets employees, Connie Carberg, shares the reason why this fanbase will make it through 2020.
Connie Carberg is suddenly missing a piece of her life this year. No fans at training camp or MetLife Stadium once the 2020 season commences means the forever New York Jets culture great will have to go on without her yearly trip to Florham Park, NJ.
The Carberg family made it a religious point to ensure Connie’s annual training camp trip had enough time and money dedicated to the journey.
Some people run, others head to the Jersey Shore in order to clear the oftentimes muddled human mind. For Connie, it’s always been the Jets, and her late husband, John, could not have been more understanding.
“My husband was really understanding,” Carberg told Jets X-Factor. “I would bring my son up, who was always so excited. My husband would wait for the phone call every night about what happened in practice. He got so much enjoyment out of my enjoyment. I was very blessed that way.”
John viewed it as “essential to her existence,” and for good reason.
Connie’s football education began at an early age. A 12-year-old in 1963, her dad, Dr. Cal Nicholas, was the New York Titans’ internist, while her uncle, Dr. James Nicholas, served as Orthopedist. Experiencing the early days at the Peekskill Military Academy helped her carve out one of the most unique careers in NFL history.
After graduating in 1974, Connie joined the Jets as a receptionist/scouting secretary. She was soon elevated to the scouting assistant to Mike Holovak. Carberg chose tight end Mike Bartoszek in the 17th round of the 1975 NFL draft.
Eventually, the woman who helped the Jets land Mark Gastineau moved to Florida in 1981, married her husband and continued the training camp streak that lasted 55 years until this unprecedented year in our history.
The news that would snap that streak and an important piece of her life hit her like a “ton of bricks.”
Just read the joint statement by the @nyjets and Giants and it hit me like a ton of bricks! It marks the end of an era for me.
For the first time in 55 years, I won’t be attending New York Jets Training Camp.
— Connie Carberg (@ConnieScouts) July 20, 2020
Accompanying this Cal Ripken Jr.-like streak are the ebbs and flows of certain eras. The old-school versions are nothing like the new. From two-a-days with monster football players looking to catch a nap in smaller-sized beds at Peekskill to the comfort of Florham Park, each regime deployed a unique feel.
“They always had two-a-days and even sometimes three-a-days back in the old days,” Carberg said. “It was hard-hitting and live. I could always tell who was going to be good during those practices.”
The relaxed nature of camp started to get a little tougher during the Bill Parcells era, but she would not have changed anything. Not even the trips up to Cortland during the Rex Ryan era that allowed her to get to know the Jets beat much more intimately.
“At the time they still had two-a-days,” Carberg said. “It was fun. At the hotel, right across the street, we would talk Jets football all day on the porch. Me, Ira from Staten Island and so many others would go on about the Jets all day and night.”
Perhaps the point of reminiscing is to come to a realization—one that provides answers.
As baseball begins Thursday night, and with the NBA and NHL right around the corner, uncertainty has hit the homes of sports fans everywhere. This is especially the case for Jets and Giants fans, who play in New Jersey—a state that’s currently restricting the number of people at large public gatherings.
As much as the diehard fan aches to live out that annual training camp tradition is usually as savvy as he or she remains. Besides, the Jet fan has not had much choice in the matter for 60 years.
In Connie’s eyes, it’s the Jets fans’ character that will shine brightest during these times.
“I think Jets fans are such a loyal, special bunch of fans,” she said. “That’s what I’ve experienced. We are a really unique fanbase. Going all these years without a Super Bowl… that just stays with us. We’re not bandwagon fans, and the way we stay with our team is very telling.
“We (Jets fans) are going to adjust somehow to whatever it’s going to be. The most important part it it all is the safety of the players.”
Hope, the determining factor that brings fans back each year, is currently playing a pivotal role this season. Hope that the Jets win a title. Hope that they can finally make it back to the playoffs. Hope that Sam Darnold pans out. Hope that there actually is football in 2020.
It’s this “hope” Connie looks to when thinking about these times.
Just imagine a New York Jets Super Bowl victory. Very few dreams bring about more enthusiasm. When it does finally happen to Jets fans, it will be that much more special.
When training camp 2021 comes around, it’ll be that much sweeter, and Connie Carberg will undoubtedly be there.