For the many Jets fans who attended Jets House over the weekend at SPIN New York, the feeling was mutual. They would all have preferred that it was Gang Green getting ready to go to Atlanta for the Super Bowl and that would have meant only former players being on hand to mingle with the fans. They also would all have preferred not to see Jamal Adams, Jason Myers and Andre Roberts on the big screens playing in the Pro Bowl.
But it was still one big happy Jets party over the weekend and the annual event continues to give Jets Nation a great opportunity to meet current and former Jets, get autographs and take pictures, play some ping pong and video games, enjoy some great food and interact with fellow fans. Even Jets CEO and Chairman Christopher Johnson was making the rounds around SPIN meeting fans and despite whether you like him or hate him, I give him all the credit in the world for being there.
But my lasting impression of this year’s Jets House is a bit more personal.
It was the second straight year that I brought my family to the event and while we had a lot of fun last year, this year’s trip to SPIN was even more special. I’ve always had a two-pronged approach to the Jets. I’ve been a fan of the team since I’m a kid but I’ve also been able to cover them for various outlets over the years. My wife Sheryl has also been a huge Jets fans since she was a child and she has also had the opportunity to meet many of the players, coaches and staff.
But this day was all about our sons Bradley and Jared and some moments and experiences that will last a lifetime.
Bradley has been playing youth tackle football since he was four years old and has been playing center for the last six years. He had an interest in playing center because my nephew Stephen was a center through high school and Bradley thought it would be a great position for him. When he started playing center, he quickly began to admire the work of former Jets center Nick Mangold. He watched him closely when we went to training camp and games and also when we watched games on television.
Bradley has also worn Mangold’s #74 when it’s been available.
But before Sunday, Bradley had never met his favorite football player. That changed at Jets House when Mangold was on hand to sign autographs and Bradley finally had the opportunity to meet the player he idolized and still honors by continuing to wear #74 for his middle school team. Bradley brought his old Mangold jersey to get autographed and took a photo with him. You couldn’t wipe the smile off of Bradley’s face and it was a moment my family and I will never forget.
Sunday was equally about my younger son Jared who enjoyed an experience that he couldn’t wait to tell everyone about and I’m sure will be sharing the story with his friends and teachers at school this week. Jared’s love for the Jets and football blossomed a little later compared to Bradley but today he loves watching games in person or on television and playing flag football. Having an older brother and a family that loves football certainly played a role in Jared growing into a football fan, but there was another reason why he caught onto the game fairly quickly at some point.
He really loves playing Madden on Xbox and when we arrived at Jets House, he sprinted towards the video game area. After jumping on the autograph lines to get some signatures on his football, it was back to playing the other young Jets fans in Madden and that’s when he had an experience that he could never have imagined. Current Jets cornerback Darryl Roberts was at Jets House and he came over to play with some of the kids including Jared.
Jared was so excited when he scored a touchdown in the game against Roberts and that smile was just a sight to see.
As Jets fans, we’d all like to see the team get better and grow into a Super Bowl contender, but there are no guarantees like that in life. You just have to keep the faith, keep rooting for your team and just try to have fun at games or events like Jets House. Thanks to the Jets for a great experience for my whole family….especially my two boys who had the chance to experience something special!