By Paul Augeri
The beating my work in-box takes would make Chuck Wepner proud. Every day, hundreds and hundreds of emails, mostly from newspapers, publishers, public-relations firms, pro teams and an array of colleges. Not all junk, but almost all of it gets a quick delete.
I have no idea, then, why I chose to take a minute to skim a newsletter, “In The Community,” sent by the New York Jets. Sometimes a good thing just drops into a scribe’s lap.
Under a headline highlighting the Jets’ “Coach of the Week Presented by Gatorade” was a familiar face, in a Carolina blue T-shirt, a whistle dangling from a lanyard, his right hand with palm up to make a point, clearly encouraging unseen players to do something the right way.
Wait a minute, that’s … Sal Morello. Middletown’s own!
According to the Jets, they have been giving the award for the last 24 years to a coach in the tri-state area who “serves the best interests of the game through the teaching of sound football fundamentals, the motivation of young players to achieve and the promotion of youth football by way of dedication to their community, their school and their student-athletes.”
This describes Middletown High’s longtime coach in a nutshell, all right.
I needed more detail, so I put in a call to the Jets. The staff no doubt was busy trying to corral The Black Cat and get MetLife ready for Sunday’s game against the Giants. Message unreturned.
When Morello took the call from the Jets, he told me he thought the person on the other end of the line was pulling a fast one.
Through the Jets’ partnership with Gatorade, the MHS football program will receive a monetary award of $2,000 and an automatic bid to compete in something called the “2020 New York Jets 11-ON Tournament.”
Morello gets a sweet package out of this which includes a cooler, fuel bars, Gatorade powder mix, squeeze bottles “and much more.” Whatever that might be, it will not compare to this – he is invited to MetLife Stadium to watch, from a luxury suite, the Jets play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 22.
Unbeknownst to the Jets, the Steelers are Morello’s team. If the Jets knew this, maybe they would have chosen another game for him to attend? Or, in their current 2-7 state, are they recruiting him?
Regardless, well-deserved recognition for the veteran coach and his Blue Dragons program as a whole.