The history of the New York Jets is as rich as it can get from the inception of the team to the current state of the franchise. Connie Carberg sits down exclusively with The Jet Press to discuss the past and present of Gang Green.
Not many people know about the story of Connie Carberg. Not only was she the first ever female scout for an NFL team but she helped draft one of the greatest players to ever wear the Green and White. She’s as important to the history of the Jets as any of their top players with how she became a part of the organization and helping them find hidden gems during the beginning phases of the NFL Draft.
I had the absolute privilege to sit with Connie to discuss what it was like during the inception of the team in the 60’s and of course to pick her incredible mind about the upcoming draft. I’m a huge fan of her writing as I encourage everyone to visit her site daily to get some great insight on the latest involving the Jets and NFL in general.
Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Without further ado, here is my exclusive interview with her:
LTJ: You have quite the history with the Jets, what was it like working with owner Weeb Ewbank back when you first got hired by the organization?
CC: I was fortunate to have known Coach Weeb Ewbank since I was 13 when he started coaching the New York Jets. He was the same man that I knew when my dad and uncle became the team physicians in 1963, as he was when I worked for him in 1974 when he was the General Manager. Coach Ewbank was a gentleman, and he always had time to talk to anyone whether it was a fan, a staff member, or the owner. He doesn’t get enough credit for two championships in 2 leagues.
LTJ: You were instrumental in making sure the Jets got the inside scoop with legendary defensive end Mark Gastineau. How many hours of research did you do scouting him and what was the best attribute you had for him before he was drafted back in 1979?
CC: Back in the 1970’s, the scouting world was much simple. Computers were just starting as the decade ended. There were no Pro days after the season, or scouting combine. When a player, Mike Stensrud, got hurt in a motorcycle accident, the Senior Bowl needed a Defensive lineman to replace him.
The NY Jets were coaching the North squad. My boss was on the road, called and asked me to find the replacement. I spent time reading many DL reports and looking at film. I narrowed it down to 5 that were similar in projections. One was projected in a lower round, probably 6-7, was faster than others, but from a small school. After calling them all, the decision was made.
Only one had the passion, ready to go play right then, plus the speed, though not from a “Power School”. I called my boss Mike Hickey and informed Coach Walt Michaels that we would choose Mark Gastineau of East Central Oklahoma. Mark was defensive MVP of Sr Bowl and the Jets selected him in the second round in 1979.
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LTJ: I’m a huge fan of your site, http://conniescouts.com/, as I enjoy reading every new article you write. How much do you still enjoy writing? Do you miss doing scouting reports during your time with the Jets or do you now prefer more of the analytical approach on the current state of the team?
CC: I really enjoy having my web site www.ConnieScouts.com with Jet pictures over the past 50 years and writing my opinions about the Jets and football in general. It’s so great to be able to share with so many die hard fans. There was nothing equal to working for my favorite team and becoming the first female scout in the NFL, getting to write scouting reports on college players.
LTJ: What has been the best season in the history of the Jets in your opinion and why?
CC: The best season in NY Jets history has to be 1968, which resulted in the famous Joe Namath guarantee of winning Super Bowl III in 1969. I was so lucky to be at this game that cemented the AFL-NFL merger, had the Jets win after being 17 point underdogs, and made the Jets rulers of New York over the rival NY Giants.
LTJ: With the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft, what in your opinion are the top three traits a team should look for that makes a prospect worth taking a chance on?
CC: Top 3 traits for a prospect – one is hard to measure and is the reason so many make it that shouldn’t, or did not make it that should. It’s the “heart” the motor, the passion for the game. Then, something you can’t teach – speed (quick, burst) Third – depends on position whether it’s hands, balance, strength, hips, flexibility and of course QB – smart, arm, but accuracy most important.
LTJ: For this year’s draft, what direction should the Jets go in and why? What are some of the players they can draft in the first round that make sense to help Gang Green heading into next season?
CC: I so agree with Coach Todd Bowles, – the Jets need more speed. On defense and offense. I’m hoping for an edge rusher that can cover too. Also in the other rounds, a corner & safety, offensive line help, and though I love having Matt Forte and Bilal Powell (huge fan) , I’d love a 3rd down speed back/punt returner.
We haven’t been a threat to return punts in so long. I’m hoping Bryce Petty will soon be ready, but it never hurts to draft a QB! I think LB of Ohio St, Darron Lee, or Shaq Lawson of Clemson would be great. If we draft the best available athlete in the first round, I’d like speedy LB Deion Jones of LSU in 2nd or 3rd. If he’s healthy, safety Karl Joseph of West Va. is a thumper. Hopefully Jace Amaro at TE and Devin Smith at WR will be healthy this year and add to our receiving corps!
LTJ: What do you think so far of the new leadership regime of the Jets in general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles?
CC: Coach Todd Bowles and GM Mike Maccagnan set a great tone for the Jets last season. No longer were the Jets about winning Press Conferences, but about winning games and establishing a solid football culture. It’s great that Coach Bowles was an undrafted free agent that made it for a solid NFL career including a Super Bowl, so he sure has his pulse on what players go through and what is necessary.
LTJ: Finally, who in your opinion is the overall best player in this year’s draft and why?
CC: The best overall player in the draft if he’s healthy is LB/RB Myles Jack of UCLA. He played both ways, an impact player, can rush the passer, drop back in coverage, and is a solid tackler. Again, it depends on his recovery from the injury.
We here at The Jet Press would like to once again thank Connie for sitting down with us to have this interview. We also wanted to let Jets Nation know that a book on her life is in the works and should be out in the next few months! We’ll keep you posted as it will no doubt be one incredible read for Jets fans everywhere. Please follow Connie on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with her latest work.