One might think the 14th Taste of the Jets event held Thursday night at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York would blend together with the previous 13. But not for cornerback Buster Skrine, who's been to several of the recent events.
"It's a nice turnout. The fans seem really hyped about the draft picks and I'm having fun," Skrine said. "So, yeah, this is the best one by far."
Skrine was one of more than 50 current players to attend the charity event, supported by ESPN 98.7, with all of the net proceeds benefiting the New York Jets Foundation in tackling hunger. Among his teammates were Muhammad Wilkerson, Quincy Enunwa, and seemingly the entire Jets offensive line.
"Events like this are great because they bring the whole community together," said C Wes Johnson. "It gets all the Jets fans here, it's great for all the restaurants to get the exposure, and it raises money for the New York Jets Foundation. It's a good cause and a good time."
"You definitely get well fed, that's for sure," said QB Bryce Petty after finishing his chicken pot pie presentation from Lavo, one of the 23 restaurant stations serving up samplings of delicious cuisine. "It's good to get around the fans. There's always a lot of excitement with Jets fans. You want to put out for them, and we really appreciate them being here."
Besides the current players, members of head coach Todd Bowles coaching staff were in attendance, as were a number of Jets Legends. For the second year, former linebacker Bart Scott emceed the event, and he had a recommendation for the Jets draft class as he introduced them: "This is New York. Get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable."
Among the most comfy this night seemed to be the top two draft picks, safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, who worked one station together and frequently provided fans with the opportunity to get a photo taken with both of the young men who it is hoped will patrol the Jets' deep middle for seasons to come.
Fan favorite Marty Lyons, Jets Legend and longtime radio analyst for the team who is coming off his own successful foundation fundraiser, said helping people never gets old for him.
"I've always been a firm believer that the more you give, the more you're going to receive," Lyons said. "To be involved with the Jets for 38 years and still be able to come to the functions and be appreciated by the fans, it humbles you and I'm very grateful to have this opportunity."
Players and Fans Sample the Best Restaurants in New York City
Other legends spotted in the crowd were Willie Colon, Chad Cascadden, Eric Smith, Lou Benfatti and Lou D'Agostino.
Fans also got to watch the Jets Flight Crew perform as they strolled around the Pavilion's 30,000 square feet of polished oak floors. One new wrinkle this year was that five of the 23 restaurant stations were worked by local members of the U.S. military branches — Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard. (The Marines' crumb cake offering was simply stated yet outstanding.)
All the military participated in the Taste of the Jets Armed Forces Cook-Off. Scott also conducted the live auction that included dinner at Rao's and Super Bowl tickets. Among the raffle prizes were JetBlue round-trip flights, a $500 Saks gift card and concert tickets. Activations at the event included Jets Experience, virtual reality, photo booth and merchandise sales.
TASTE OF THE JETS RESTAURANT STATIONSOsteria Morini
Tavern on Jane / Sister Jane East Side Tavern
Emma's Ale House
Tao Uptown / Tao Downtown
Slamwich Scratch Kitchen
Park Avenue Tavern
The Central Park Boathouse