FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets coach Todd Bowles was doing his weekly radio spot when a special guest was introduced on another phone line.
Now, joining the program: Gladys Knight.
"Yeah, right," a laughing Bowles told host Michael Kay, who said he wanted to cheer up the Jets coach after a 24-17 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday.
No, really. The seven-time Grammy winner nearly left Bowles — a self-proclaimed "big Gladys music fan" — speechless Monday when she called in to "The Michael Kay Show" on 98.7 ESPN Radio.
"Mr. Bowles! How are you?" Knight asked the coach.
"Gladys!" exclaimed Bowles, who has mentioned the "Empress of Soul" several times in the past few weeks during news conferences. "Oh, my gosh. How are you?"
Knight said she was trying to make it on time to watch the game Sunday at MetLife Stadium, but arrived late, when the Eagles had already jumped out to a big lead. Philadelphia led 24-0 before New York scored a touchdown right before halftime.
"It wasn't five minutes after I got there that they scored their touchdown," Knight said. "They didn't lose (anything) else after that."
Bowles sheepishly said: "That's OK. Thank you so much for even coming. I really appreciate it."
Knight learned of Bowles' appreciation for her music through her husband William McDowell, who caught wind of the stories and Twitter posts that mentioned how just about the only thing that would excite the even-keeled Jets coach is if Knight walked into the room.
"'Where Peaceful Waters Flow' gets me through every day," Bowles said, referring to the song on Gladys Knight & The Pips' 1973 album "Imagination."
"Well, I might have to do that for ya one of these days," Knight said. "When we get to the Super Bowl. How about that?"
Bowles, in his first year as Jets coach, responded: "I'll take it. You've got a deal."
The 71-year-old Knight's new dance single, "Just A Little," was recently released, and Bowles said he'd "have it tomorrow."
Knight said she is a sports fan, dating to her days with the all-male Pips, and even took part in a fantasy football league last season. She added that Bowles could "absolutely" step in for one of the Pips.
"He's going to have to dance for me," Knight said. "That's right. I know you can do that. We're going to have to get together and make this work, OK?"
Bowles laughed and said, "You got it."
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