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Jets return 'home' for Family Night at Hofstra

Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York

Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets passes against the New York Giants. (Aug. 16, 2010) Photo Credit: Getty Images

Watch as little as two minutes of "Hard Knocks: Training Camp With the New York Jets" on HBO, and you'll start fighting back the urge to immediately paint your face green, strap on a helmet and pads, and spear-tackle the next person you see.

For Jets fans on Long Island, that's as close as they can get without having to cross a toll bridge and drive west for three-plus hours. When the Jets moved their team facilities from Hofstra University to Florham Park, N.J., in 2008, after 40 years on Long Island, it left a void in fans' summers. How could we get our football fix before returning to school without catching a practice and maybe shaking hands with a real, live Jet?

No worries, Long Island.

The Jets return to the 516 area code for a second straight year Wednesday for Family Night at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium.


WHAT YOU'LL SEE

The event is basically a glorified walk-through practice - but, hey, it's on Long Island, for Long Island. And with coach Rex Ryan at the helm, who knows what's planned for the fans? The price is a whopping $0. Take that, personal seat license holders!

Hofstra's gates open at 4 p.m. for Generation Jets Fest and shopping at the merchandise tent. The Jets will take the field at 6 p.m. and are expected to practice for an hour or so. Afterward, they'll hit the sidelines for autographs and photo ops.


FOR THE FAMILY

Jets Fest is an interactive football theme park where fans can test their skills. Sure, it's aimed at the little ones, what with all the inflatables and such. But go ahead, college kids and dads - run the 40-yard dash, try kicking a field goal from 35 yards. See, it's not that easy.

Kids also can try to score a touchdown by running past inflatable defenders and throwing passes into the waiting hands of inflatable receivers.

But if you want a real test of athleticism, try the obstacle course. Start by running through a tunnel, then fighting through inflated towers. Then, there's a wall just waiting for you to climb, more towers, a set of horizontal bars, more towers . . . and then: Touchdown!


FOR THE FOOTBALL

Expect the Jets to run some situational drills and work on a few new things ahead of Friday night's preseason game against the Washington Redskins.

Fans can use the opportunity to see firsthand the development of second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez, rookie cornerback Kyle Wilson and free agents Antonio Cromartie (cornerback), Jason Taylor (defensive end), Santonio Holmes (wide receiver) and LaDainian Tomlinson (running back).


FOR THE FANS

Jets players and coaches will be made available immediately after practice to sign autographs and interact with fans. There are no guarantees as to exactly which players will do so, but expect to leave Hofstra with at least one more autograph than when you arrived. Getting that close to a pro athlete usually only happens in training camp, so cherish that experience . . . and the photos to post on Facebook. And, yes, you'll be back home in time to watch Week 3 of "Hard Knocks."

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