Team bonding is an important part of any industry. Whether it’s going bowling with your coworkers or doing the dreaded trust fall at a corporate retreat, time spent with colleagues outside of the office is crucial for building strong teams and increasing performance.
An NFL locker room is a little different than your average office, but the importance of getting to know your teammates outside of work remains the same.
That is precisely what New York Jets No. 1 pick, quarterback Zach Wilson, did by attending a New York Islanders playoff game with his new offensive line. And like many office retreats, the bonding went to the next level when one teammate started chugging beer.
Zach Wilson is the undisputed QB1 for the New York Jets
The New York Jets selected the former BYU quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Although questions remain about the level of competition Wilson faced in college, the Jets had enough confidence in his skills to take him over other top quarterback prospects in Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones.
The teams that took quarterbacks behind the Jets hung on to experienced veterans to steer the ship until their young signal-callers are ready. The San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, and New England Patriots will likely have Jimmy Garoppolo, Andy Dalton, and Cam Newton, respectively, begin the season.
The Jets did the exact opposite. The team traded fourth-year quarterback (and 2018 No. 3 overall pick) Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers. Now, Wilson’s only backups are second-year fourth-round pick James Morgan and 26-year-old Mike White, who has never thrown an NFL pass.
This makes Wilson the unquestioned starter going into the season. As a rookie, this is a dicey proposition. In order to make it work, the Jets must have an excellent offensive line in front of him.
The Jets and New York Islanders have an unofficial relationship
New York is the only city in the United States that boasts multiple teams in the four major professional sports. New Yorkers can pick any team in each sport to root for, but most Big Apple sports fans generally fall into one of two categories.
First, there is the classic, blue-blood New York sports fan. This type of fan cheers for the long-established teams with a history of winning: Giants, Yankees, and Rangers.
The other type of fan likes the newer, underdog-type teams with a more tortured history. This makes the Jets, Mets, and Islanders the teams this second group loves.
As for the NBA, every proper New Yorker over the age of 12 roots for the New York Knicks.
Because of the way these loyalties break down, it is no surprise that the Jets decided to take their team outing to Nassau Coliseum to see the Islanders take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL Playoffs.
Zach Wilson’s offensive lineman Dan Feeney got a little raucous during the game
As Game 4, which the Islanders won 4-1, went to a commercial break, NBC cameras caught the Jets celebrating as offensive lineman Dan Feeney chugged a beer. The mullet-sporting lineman proceeded to finish the can of beer and crush it against his head while his teammates cheered him on and the game announcers cracked up.
This unscripted moment is now going viral. It also quickly endeared Feeney, an offseason free-agent signing, to Jets fans in the Twitter world. Sports radio host Jake Asman summed up Jets fans’ feelings by tweeting, “Dan Feeney is my new favorite player on the #Jets!”
It wasn’t just Gang Green’s fans who enjoyed the beer-chugging display, either.
Wilson and the rest of the O-line looked enthused about Feeney’s drinking ability, as well. This is a good sign for the camaraderie of the new-look front that added a first- and fourth-round pick (Alijah Vera-Tucker and Cameron Clark) and two free agents (Feeney and Connor McGovern) to the young, talented position group.
For the Jets to have success in 2021 and beyond, they need Wilson to be a success. For Wilson to succeed, the team needs the offensive line to gel and give the young QB time to operate.
If the Jets’ team-building event at the Islanders game is any indication, this unit should work well together and have a good time doing it.