It was 1977 when I first stepped into the New York Jets Football Team’s office in midtown Manhattan to begin my new career which would ultimately be one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I grew up with the New York Jets since my Dad was a sportswriter and covered the team (even when they were called the New York Titans). This was different though; it was my time to learn the ins and the outs of professional football. Dad, thank you for being the example I needed to set out on this wonderful journey in life. I was working with the New York Media on a daily basis and the Jets were my family. Now, some 25 years later, I find myself sitting down with some of the former New York Jet football players whose pictures may have been plastered on the back page of a New York newspaper at one time or another. Some even made it to page six of the New York Post where celebrity spottings at Elaine’s was the norm. I remember the extreme wind and cold seasons at Shea Stadium where fans would try and throw snowballs into the broadcast booth, one time almost hitting Howard Cosell. Well, things haven’t changed that much when you think about the former.
The purpose of this Blog though is to share some interesting stories about former New York Jets and “Where Are They Now.” I was curious to see how their life has changed, are you?
Former New York Jets Quarterback Matt Robinson, a 9th round draft choice out of Georgia in 1977, who is now living in the Jacksonville, FL area, discussed a quote from him I noticed from the 1979 media guide which read: “All my life I’ve always felt blessed…like someone was taking care of me.” I asked him about this and Matt replied, “My growing up had a strong spiritual base from my mom and dad. I lived by faith somewhat but you don’t trust anyone more that your parents. My mother told me later in my life she was involved in and witnessed a miracle when my dad was in the last stages of life”. Matt proceeded to share the miracle. “After my dad passed away at home my mom went inside and was sitting in the living room and started to pray to God and asked Him if her husband was OK. At that very moment a dove flew and landed on a chair right outside on the balcony of their condo as she was praying. A peace came over my mom that I had never seen before. The paramedics came and as they were taking Dad out the door the dove flew away. My mom told me she knew that her prayers were answered right on the spot and that he was OK.” Miracles do happen everyday you just have to believe and have faith and peace will follow.
I had to ask Matt about the infamous story that happened after training camp in 1979 when he won the starting QB job from Richard Todd and how he really hurt his thumb. Matt reminded me that he hid the injury from Head Coach Walt Michaels at the time. “It really was an innocent story,” Matt said. “In 1979, I will never forget this as it was the downfall of my career in New York. I had won the starting Quarterback job in my third year from Richard Todd in preseason. A week before the season started- it is basically a transition time where we wait to move into our homes- I was still in a hotel. When training camp ended about 45 players and some coaches went across the street to Bills Meadowbrook, which was a hangout for us. Joe Klecko and I were arm wrestling as a joke. Well, that evening I went back to my hotel room and literally tripped on a cooler and actually caught myself and went to bed. I woke up the next morning and my right thumb was really swollen. We hid the injury from Coach Michaels by saying Pat Ryan was coming in the door and a freak thing happened and I popped my thumb. I ended up starting against Cleveland the next week. We were ahead by three points, 25 seconds left in the game, no time outs. Browns went down the field and tied the game with a field goal. I threw an interception in overtime and we lost the game and the next year I was traded to the Denver Broncos.”
Later, I asked Matt what advice he would give QB Mark Sanchez. Matt responded: “Actually I have been impressed with Mark Sanchez because I feel he has handled the pressure and the media in a big way. He has played good and he has played bad and has played in the middle. I think the HBO Hard Knocks show could have taken him in a negative way, but I think Mark has his head screwed on right. There were a couple of books out and in one of them former New York Jet Joe Klecko is quoted, ‘nothing ever seems to bother Matt Robinson.’ So I would say to Mark don’t let any of it bother you, but I honestly don’t think it really seems to bother him. It is easier said than done though. But when I was there I was the underdog and being the underdog is good… Everything you do right is great. Everything you do wrong is expected. I was a 9th round draft pick and Richard Todd was a first round pick. I was in the driver’s seat so to speak. I understand and I appreciated it all. Being a back up QB is quite different than starting. If you are put in and you play well you are a hero but if you make mistakes it is expected.”
I asked Matt what he is doing now: “I own a Mortgage Banking Business, Home Team Equity, LLC. Home Team Equity, LLC is the culmination of exhaustive research and street experience that addresses the needs of today’s top loan originators and mortgage broker companies. We are Mortgage Bankers on the residential side, and are located in 22 states now. We also have a national and international commercial division. Home Team Equity also employs 16 retired athletes that are full time in our marketing department. The retired athletes such as Bill Bates, Davey Johnson, Billy Kratzert and Jan Stephenson to name just a few represent lead source for commercial deals as well as residential. This is “Where Champions of Finance and Athletics Unite.” Home Team Equity has a very strong residential mortgage platform. We offer more than the guys out there. Our home office is in Orlando and we have two offices in the Jacksonville area. We opened in April of 2007 and our website is Hometeamequity.com
On the personal side:
Matt spoke about his own spirituality and said, “it was in 1986 here in Jacksonville when I got down on my knees and started my walk in faith. That was after my football career. I am now a member of Christ Church in Mandarin. I knew I belonged at that Church when I walked in because a peace immediately came over me. Every other Sunday at 9 am Matt teaches a Coaches Class. A gentleman by the name of Jeffrey Duke out of Orlando started a pyramid teaching program for Coaches through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. (FCA) The first area of the program for the coaches class is geared to the physical aspects of the game, like run, pass, jump high, and blocking techniques, which enables the coach’s to make the program successful. The second part of pyramid or program is how to motivate these young athletes and how to teach them team cohesion. The third part is how they the coaches can by example touch the athletes spirit. This program truly helps and guides these coaches and gives them ammunition to help make these kids Disciples. They are led to be faithful Men and Women and helps them go out in the world after sports and be effective. The end result of the program for the actual sport itself will affect your record because they are now more dedicated men and women. After practice the teams would gather in a circle and affirm each other and build each other’s self esteem and spirit. Also, during the Football season Matt is Coaching QB and WR’s at Mandarin Christian High.
In Matt’s spare time you might turn your radio on and find him on the The Sam Kouvaris Show, a local Jacksonville sports talk radio show. Matt is a guest quite often and fills in sometimes for Kouvaris the host. The sports talk radio show is on 1010XL local Jacksonville, 10am M-F. Sam Kouvaris said, “Matt’s a natural on the radio and is able to adapt to just any situation. He’s smart and not afraid to give his opinion. And it’s not just about football. He’s been a sports fan since he retired so no matter what we talk about, he’s up on it.”
I asked Matt to talk about his daughter Mattie and with a big smile on his face proceeded to share about Mattison who is named after him.
“Mattison my pride and joy. She is 14 and goes to a local private School. From the age of 9 to 11 she was an international ball room dance competitor. Matt said, “and at the age of 13 Mattie became an advanced diver. We often dive together down in the Keys. Matt added, “Mattie just earned an academic scholarship, also.” When Mattie was in the 8th grade during a parent teacher conference, Mattie’s teacher gave her a great compliment. She said among other positive things, “Mattie is a really great friend to all of her friends.” “What a great compliment to say about a young teen,” Matt said. Mattie plays basketball, softball and hopefully will run track this spring. Robinson, a very proud dad said, “Mattie has a heart for God,” and I thought to myself as well as her father!
About the Author
Written by DonnaJanoffAugustyniak
I am a former Public Relations Assistant for the New York Jets Football Team and a PR Director for the Fort Wayne Komets Hockey Team. My dad was a sportswriter in New York for over 60 years covering the New York Jets, New York Knicks, US Open Tennis, Harness Racing and penned three books. I grew up in Madison Square Garden and Shea Stadium learning from the best of the best columnists.