Jets to hold walk-through practice, 'Family Night' Thursday at Hofstra
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - The Jets may be based in New Jersey, but Thursday they'll be returning to their roots.
They will hold a walk-through practice and "Family Night'' for fans and season-ticket holders at Hofstra in advance of the annual "Snoopy Bowl'' against the Giants Friday at MetLife Stadium.
The Jets haven't been back on Long Island since 2010 "due to scheduling issues, so we're excited to be going back,'' president Neil Glat told Newsday.
Hofstra hosted Jets training camp until 2008. They've gone to SUNY Cortland every year since Rex Ryan became coach in 2009 except 2011, when a 132-day lockout ended in late July.
"We're not there very often, but this is something we talked about trying to do every year,'' Ryan said. "We know it's important. We want our Long Island fans to come out. We recognize this is their team, so if we can give back a little bit, we will.''
And his affinity for the area isn't just lip service.
On Monday, Ryan rattled off memories of attending practices at Hofstra in 1968, the season the Jets won Super Bowl III. He and his twin, Rob, didn't turn 6 years old until that December, their brother, Jim, was a ball boy at practice, and their dad, Buddy, was in his first year as Jets defensive line coach.
"That's why it's always good to get back,'' Ryan said. "As an organization, we recognize that our roots, so to speak, are right there. Hopefully, we won't have a fan get on the field like that one year,'' he added with a laugh, referring to someone whom security guards tackled and handcuffed at the 2010 event.
With so many fans dispersed across the metropolitan area, Glat said the Jets always are looking for ways to accommodate as many of them as possible.
"Unfortunately, you have to be somewhere,'' he said. "So there really is no ideal spot.''
As for season-ticket holders, Glat said, "Two of our top counties are still Nassau and Suffolk.''
That shouldn't be surprising.
"Long Island is definitely Jets country,'' Freeport product D'Brickashaw Ferguson said. "But we'll see what happens when we go this year. I don't expect a different reception, but it's like a relative you haven't seen in a while.''
There's a chance the Jets could return to their roots long term. Sources told Newsday that Farmingdale State is on the list of possible camp locations. "To be back on the Island I think would definitely be something good for us,'' Ferguson said. "Change up and reconnect to some of our Long Island fans.''
Jets staff members have visited the Long Island campus, but the scouting of locations is still in the early stages.
"It's way too premature to think that we'd be leaving Cortland at this point,'' said Glat, who stressed the upstate site "works very well. And if we were to leave Cortland, it would have nothing to do with Cortland. It would just be getting closer to where more of our season-ticket holders are from.''
So for now, Thursday's event will have to suffice. Jets alumni Ken Schroy, Marty Lyons, Greg Buttle, Wesley Walker, Jim Luscinski, Richard Caster and Earl Christy are expected to attend the free event from 5:30-7 p.m. Tickets, however, are required. Jets Fest opens at 3:30 p.m., with the walk-through scheduled from 5:30-7.