The New York Jets booted Josh Henshaw before he could do the same for them.
The long-shot NFL hopeful, eager to help Gang Green solve their early season kicking woes despite a lack of pro experience, appeared uninvited at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday outside the team’s Florham Park, N.J., practice facility after taking a red-eye flight east from Salt Lake City. All he sought was a chance to show his stuff to the Jets staff.
Despite a boost from ex-Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason, it was not to be: the ex-college kicker’s hopes of a roster spot went wide right when the Jets instead signed kicker Sam Ficken.
“I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything else, except getting a contract,” he told the Daily News while waiting for his flight home. “Just the rush of hopping on a plane and doing this. To put my neck out and see where it takes me.”
The 30-year-old University of Vermont grad followed his dream east aboard a plane from Utah to Newark Airport, catching a cab and arriving outside the practice fields shortly after sunrise.
Henshaw, once the kicker for his alma mater, carried a hand-written plea for a chance: “92% last five seasons semi-pro, 57-yard long in a game, have film just need a shot.” His chutzpah led to a plug from WFAN-AM’s morning tag-team of Esiason and Gregg Giannotti, who even interviewed him live on the air as Henshaw waited in vain for the Jets to call.
“I have 100% confidence,” the red-headed kicker told the sports talk hosts. “I know what my skill set is. It’s just a a matter of getting in front of the right people.”
Esiason later endorsed Henshaw in a text message to Jets Coach Adam Gase after watching an online video where Henshaw boomed a 75-yard FG off a tee.
“Seems like a pretty solid dude chasing a dream,” wrote the former NFL star. “May end up being a great story.”
Local residents who heard of his NFL dreams on the radio began turning up with water, food and words of encouragement. A local deli delivered a breakfast sandwich and orange juice to help the time pass.
But in the end, Henshaw went the way of fired incumbent Kaare Vedvik, shanker of an extra point and a field goal in the Jets’ opening game 17-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Henshaw called it quits after six hours, when word came of the Ficken signing.
While the financial adviser left without getting his tryout, Henshaw is optimistic that the attention paid to his stunt could attract more attention to his kicking game.
“Hopefully, I can parlay this into opening some doors: An agent who can help, somebody with the Jets, the other 31 teams in the league,” said Henshaw. “Whatever it is, I’m ready.”