Vinny Testaverde played 7 of his 21 seasons in the National Football League as the Jets’ quarterback, compiling a 35-26 record and taking the team to the American Football Conference championship game in 1998.
He played college football at Miami, where he was an all-American and won the Heisman Trophy in 1986. He was picked first over all by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1987 N.F.L. draft. Testaverde, 49, also played for the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers.
In 2007, the year he retired, he threw two touchdown passes for the Panthers against the San Francisco 49ers, breaking his own record for the oldest starter to win an N.F.L. game. He was 44. Testaverde, a two-time Pro Bowler, threw for a career 46,233 yards and holds the records for having thrown a touchdown pass in 21 consecutive seasons and to 70 different players.
On Tuesday, he hosted the Wild Turkey Bourbon event in Manhattan. At the event, he introduced a turkey named Jimmy Junior, which predicted the outcome of the three Thanksgiving Day N.F.L. games by picking feed out of dishes fastened to the tops of team helmets. It could be the start of a new office pool craze.
The gobbler ruined the holiday dinner of Jets fans when he ate from the Patriots’ dish. But he won cheers from Cowboys and Lions fans when he ate from their dishes.Q. How do you spend your time now?
A. Lately, I’ve been coaching not only wild turkeys, but high school football. My son is playing over at the high school (Jesuit High School in Tampa, Fla.) and I thought it would be fun to go coach over there, spend time with him and see him develop first-hand.
Q. Do you think the Jets made a good or bad move when they acquired Tim Tebow?
A. I think if you can get some kind of running game going, it opens the door to success. It all stems from the running game on offense, and the lack of running game can make you look bad, and I think Tebow can bring a little of that to the table.
Q. What do you think of Tebow’s style of play?
A. It’s certainly different than what a lot of people are accustomed to seeing. He has a rare skill set that many quarterbacks in the league don’t possess. Bottom line is, he’s a winner and he’s proven that. If the Jets continue to struggle, I think they should give him a shot at the starting quarterback position.Q. What do you think about players who anonymously knock teammates as the Jets player have done ?
A. I’m a big believer in putting your name to any statement you make. It’s cowardly if you make statements like that off the record and won’t put your name to it. That’s not being a good teammate and it’s a formula for losing.Q. Should Rex Ryan be fired if the Jets have a losing season?
A. No, I don’t think so. He’s proven he can win. I think they may have to make a couple of changes, and certainly getting a couple key guys healthy would help. You have to find out which guys in the locker room are there to compete and win football games and which guys are out there chirping and being a distraction to the team.Q. Recently three quarterbacks received concussions on the same Sunday. You managed to play until you were 44. Do you think the game is safer now than when you played?
A. I think they’re trying to make it safer. They try to protect the quarterback. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, you could hit the quarterback low, you could hit the quarterback high. You could hit him pretty much late. Today you can’t do any of those three. I think it’s a good thing. They just have to be careful not to go overboard with it. Case in point, Ed Reed. I thought that was a good hit. Was it a dangerous play for the receiver? Sure, but it’s a dangerous, violent sport, and guys are going to get hurt.Q. Has the league done enough to protect players from head injuries?
A. It sounds like they are. I really don’t follow too closely what they’re trying to do other than keeping players out when they are diagnosed with a concussion. The brain is a tricky thing to figure out and I think they’re just scratching the surface with that type of injury.Q. Are you surprised by the impact the rookie quarterbacks Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, and Russell Wilson are having this season?
A. Not totally surprised. But I am somewhat surprised that this many guys are having a great amount of success so early. I think part of it is that some of these coaches are implementing similar plays to what these guys ran in college. Andrew Luck, on the other hand, is the type of quarterback who came into a new system and learned the offense of the Indianapolis Colts and is having great success. I don’t think anyone would have predicted that the Colts would turn their record around as quick as they did from a year ago.Q. You have a sleeper team that can go far in the playoffs this year?
A. I don’t know if you’d consider them a sleeper, but no one is talking about the Packers anymore. That’s a team that could come up and surprise some people down the stretch.Q. What are you most proud of in your career?
A. I guess the fact that I was able to play 21 seasons and always tried to do things the right way. Over the years, I just worked hard and always tried to do what’s best for my teammates, and for my family.Q. Any regrets?
A. How’s that song go? “Regrets, I’ve had a few.” (laughing) No, not many regrets. I think you have regrets when you didn’t give it everything you had and I always felt like I did. Whether it was good enough or not, that has nothing to do with the fact that I tried my best to give my team a chance to win, year in and year out.Q. What was the key to your longevity in the N.F.L.?
A. Well first, I was definitely lucky. There are so many potential injuries that you’re always just a half-inch away from. Certainly staying in the weight room, taking care of my body with the proper nutrition and just trying to stay in shape was a big part of it.Q. How has the game changed since you played?
A. It seems like the game is much faster. You also have all these specialists and even the specialist have specialists. There are third down backs, third receivers, fourth receivers, defensive ends who just come in on pass-rushing downs. The guys are faster and stronger than when I played and the league has evolved offensively into a passing league.Q. Any hobbies?
A. My biggest hobby is playing golf, which I really enjoy. Now when I am lying in bed at night, unable to sleep, I find myself thinking about my golf swing. I’m also involved in the Tampa Bay chapter of First Tee.Q. What’s your average score?
A. I’m a 2 handicap, so probably mid 70s.Q. What’s in your iPod?
A. (laughing) Whatever my wife and kids put on there.Q. When you do have control, who do you listen to?
A. Honestly other than country, I listen to a little of everything.