Wild, wacky ride for Lyndhurst native Guerriero; Has two stints with Jets, but then is sent packing before first game

There’s a saying among knowledgeable football people that the NFL really stands for “Not For Long.”

Well, Lyndhurst native Petey Guerriero knows that all too well, especially after his experiences over the last three weeks.

Guerriero, who went undrafted in May’s NFL draft, had a tryout with the New York Jets three weeks ago. The workout with the Jets apparently went well enough that the Jets signed the former Lyndhurst High and Monmouth University standout running back to a free agent contract.

“I felt like I was there,” Guerriero said. “I felt like I belonged.”

But the Jets weren’t totally satisfied with their backfield to start the season, so they released Guerriero two days after signing him.

The Jets had traded for Kalen Ballage from the Miami Dolphins, seemingly getting a running back with NFL experience, so they cut Guerriero.

But when Ballage reported to Florham Park and the Jets’ training facility, he was apparently damaged goods and Ballage failed his physical with his new team. The trade was nullified.

So the Jets called Guerriero and welcomed him back to the fold.

However, two more days of practices come and go and on Thursday before the first game, Guerriero was released once again.

“It was so frustrating,” Guerriero said. “I thought that second day of practices, I practiced well. I pass blocked well and did everything that was asked of me. It’s frustrating that I got the opportunity again and I still got sent home.”

Two tries in two weeks and when the Jets announced their 53-man roster and their 10-man practice squad, Guerriero was not among them.

“I felt like I was making the most of my opportunity,” Guerriero said. “They saw my speed. They saw me outrun the safeties. I saw they had only three healthy running backs. I felt I had a really good chance. And after everything I had done, they called me to say that someone was going to come up and get the playbook.”

In normal times, Guerriero would have been sent to the coach’s office, in this case Adam Gase, and asked to bring the playbook. But in a pandemic world, everything was done over the telephone, which was even colder. Guerriero was searching for answers.

“I didn’t know why,” Guerriero said. “I thought, ‘What do I have to do to make this team?’”

Guerriero has always overcome the obstacles.

He was told that he was too small to be a college football player, so he elected to take a track scholarship to Monmouth after being a three-sport star at Lyndhurst High (football, basketball and track and field), earning The Observer’s Male Athlete of the Year in 2016.

While competing in track at Monmouth, the coaching staff saw Guerriero’s incredible speed and offered him a spot on the football team. After first being listed seventh on the Hawks’ depth chart, Guerriero ended up being the team’s No. 1 running back.

Last fall, Guerriero was not only the team’s leading rusher, but he was the leading rusher in the entire nation among FCS schools with 1,995 yards. He finished third in the Walter Payton Award voting for the top running back in all of college football.

Even though he had another year of football eligibility remaining at Monmouth, Guerriero decided to leave school early and declare himself eligible for the NFL Draft.

“I put together three solid years in college,” Guerriero said. “I felt like I had nothing else to prove. I talked about it with a couple of people, like Coach (Rich) Tuero (the Lyndhurst head coach). I was supposed to graduate on time. My decision to leave was final. I decided to go for it (the NFL Draft). I didn’t think it was a gamble. I didn’t see it as being much of a gamble. I was pretty confident in my abilities.”

However, when the NFL Draft began, Guerriero was not at home, sitting beside the phone, waiting for it to ring.

“I planned on not watching it at all,” Guerriero said. “But my family was over and my girlfriend was watching it. I thought there were a couple of teams that could have picked me.”

But it didn’t happen. Guerriero went undrafted in the NFL Draft, making him a total free agent.

“At first, I was really shocked by it,” Guerriero said.

Then, the real shocker happened. Guerriero didn’t even receive a free agent invitation to a training camp.

“I was very concerned,” Guerriero said. “I thought it was kind of outrageous. There were guys from D-III and D-II (NCAA Division III and Division II) schools getting signed and I wasn’t getting an offer. I said, ‘What is happening here?’ I didn’t think my size played against me. I had no idea why I didn’t get a chance. I was very upset and stayed that way for a couple of weeks. I thought I was reliving my life all over again.”

Guerriero was unwanted out of high school, but found a home and blew up the record books at Monmouth. So who’s to say he couldn’t do the same in the NFL.

Then Guerriero finally gets his shot – twice – and twice the Jets send him packing.

It all just doesn’t seem fair.

Guerriero will continue to work out religiously, hoping and praying some team calls Guerriero’s agent.

“I’m staying in shape and I’m ready for whatever comes,” Guerriero said. “After going through all that I have in my life, I know I’ll be there one day. I’m going to give the next team my most. I understand it from the business side to it all.”

Still, getting signed, cut, re-signed and cut again in a span of three weeks is brutal for one young man to handle. It’s worse when he’s one of our own, someone we’ve watched and admired for the last seven years. You want him to succeed. You want to see him play on Sunday and play for pay.

“I’m just thankful to the people who believed in me,” Guerriero said. “The ones that stuck with me and stayed by me, they’re the ones who matter to me.”




Lyndhurst native Petey Guerriero shows what he did during New York Jets’ preseason workouts, enough to see him get signed and subsequently released by the club twice over the last three weeks. Photo courtesy of Facebook and Rich Tuero.



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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”