For today’s “This Date…” installment, we go back 17 years, as the Jets tried to save Rich Kotite leading into his second year as coach of the New York Jets.
The Jets were coming off of Rich Kotite’s “brilliant” first season that ended with a 3-13 record. So, how did the Jets react? The way a lot of teams react, especially in big markets. They signed big name free agents with the hopes of turning things around quickly.
The first signing was on Feb 28th, 1996. Fresh off an appearance in Super Bowl XXX, the Jets signed quarterback Neil O’Donnell from the Pittsburgh Steelers as an unrestricted free agent. Although he didn’t have a great post season, O’Donnell was coming off an excellent regular season, where in 12 games, he posted 17 TDs vs only 7 INTs. He was going to be the guy to lead the Jets back.
Neil was one of several veteran free agents signed that off-season by the New York Jets. This group included OTs Jumbo Elliott and David Williams, WR Jeff Graham and QB Frank Reich.
How did it work out? 1-15, out with Kotite, and in with Bill Parcells. So, I guess, from a fan perspective, we did get something good out of it in the end. And the moves must have been logical to SOMEONE at the time, right?