Chris Hogan reacts after a play in the first half of...

Chris Hogan reacts after a play in the first half of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona.  Credit: Getty Images/Jennifer Stewart

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — He grew up idolizing Wayne Chrebet, dreaming that one day he, too, might be catching passes for the Jets.

That dream has come true, albeit much later than he might have imagined. Yet it’s no less special for Chris Hogan. Even at age 31.

“[The Jets are] a team I’ve watched growing up, a big fan of the history here,” said Hogan, who was born in Wyckoff, New Jersey, and played football and lacrosse at nearby Ramapo High School. “Joe [Namath], and Wayne Chrebet is someone I’ve always looked up to and admired when I started playing this game.”

Like Chrebet, the former Hofstra star who made the Jets as an undrafted free agent in 1995 and went on to produce a career worthy of induction into the team’s Ring of Honor, Hogan is an overachiever who got further than his talent might have suggested when he first came into the league. Hogan’s journey is no less interesting than his one-time idol with the Jets. After going to Penn State on a lacrosse scholarship, Hogan had one more season of NCAA eligibility because he missed a year with an ankle injury. In 2010, he decided to enroll at Monmouth, where he was used at receiver, quarterback and even defensive back.

Hogan then pursued his dream of playing in the NFL starting the following year. He was cut by the 49ers at the end of training camp, spent less than two weeks on the Giants’ practice squad and ended the year on Miami’s practice squad. He joined Buffalo’s practice squad late in the 2012 season, but it wasn’t until the following October that he caught his first NFL pass. Hogan began to blossom in 2014, producing 41 catches for 426 yards and four touchdowns.

Bill Belichick saw something special in Hogan, and the Patriots’ coach signed him in 2016 as a restricted free agent. That deal paid off for Hogan and the Patriots, as the all-purpose receiver wound up winning two Super Bowl titles in New England. Hogan was a part of the Patriots’ historic Super Bowl win over the Falcons, as New England rallied from a 28-3 deficit to beat Atlanta, 34-28, in overtime in Super Bowl LI. Hogan also won a championship ring in the Patriots’ 13-3 win over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII.

The Patriots and Hogan parted ways after the 2018 season, and he joined Carolina last season, where he was limited to seven games and eight catches in a season interrupted by a knee injury.

It was a long offseason for Hogan, who lives with his wife, Ashley Boccio, and two children in Huntington. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he couldn’t go on any free-agent visits. But after the Jets were hit early in training camp with injuries at receiver, he got a call. Hogan needed to pass three COVID-19 tests before being allowed into the team’s facility, and he finally returned to the field on Wednesday. A day later, it was his first padded practice since last December.

“For me personally, this year was about playing with that chip on that shoulder,” Hogan said. “That’s something that I’ve always played with going way back to Miami, going back to Buffalo, not taking any single play for granted, not taking a day for granted because, like I found out last year, this thing can change pretty quickly.”

Hogan hasn’t wasted much time picking up the Jets’ offense; during a team drill Thursday morning, he ran a crisp pattern down the right side and caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Mike White.

Another moment where he lived up to his nickname: "7-Eleven." It’s a reference to the convenience store that, like Hogan on the football field, is always open.

“Coach [Adam] Gase called me '7-Eleven' the other day,” Hogan said.

Hogan is glad the nickname still applies.

“If they’re calling me '7-Eleven,' ” he said, “I probably still have a job. When they stop calling me that, I might not be in the league anymore.”


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