Even though Wayne Chrebet hails from Garfield, N.J., he chose Hempstead, N.Y., to open his first restaurant. Chrebet's, located just across the street from the Jets' Weeb Ewbank facility on the grounds of Hofstra University, opened to the public last week.
"It's something I always wanted to do and being in Long Island the past 15 years, I thought this was the best spot for it," Chrebet said of his restaurant, which features an upscale American grill on the upper floor and a downstairs lounge. "Many people wish I would have done it in New Jersey, but it's a great location and it is kind of a second career for me."
Chrebet, who totaled 580 receptions and 41 touchdowns for the Green & White between 1995-'05, also caught 150 balls and 31 touchdowns during his collegiate career at Hofstra. He hosted a VIP party at Chrebet's on March 9 to kick things off.
"I don't have to come out here – I want to. The majority of the crowd was late 20s to late 40s," he said. "It was a perfect crowd. Everybody was well dressed and if that's any indication of how it will go, I am going to be out here a lot more than I thought I would be."
Last June, Chrebet officially retired after a decorated 11-year professional career. A former undrafted free agent, he ranks second on the Jets' all-time list in receptions, third in receiving yards (7,365), and eighth in touchdowns.
"My story is like the fish you caught that was this big and now it's this big, and every year it gets enhanced," he said. "I worked out for the team, I did well, and they signed me. But then it was [that] I hopped over the fence and got a workout, I was homeless, I was sleeping outside the Jets complex. The story gets greater every year. I had a great time. The Jets treated me very well from day one, and I was very, very fortunate to play with them my whole career."
At 5'10" and 188 pounds, Chrebet was a fearless receiver determined to catch anything in his vicinity. He sacrificed his body on a number of occasions to keep the drive alive, earning the moniker "Mr. Third Down."
"I said the one thing I am going to stress is I am never going to drop the ball, and I was fortunate enough to have a lot of good quarterbacks to put it there and I think that's what made me stand out the most," he said. "That is pretty much all I can control, so I figured I would do that right."
But more than a year since he last suited up, Chrebet says his playing days feel far removed.
"Strange. It's almost like I didn't play. Sometimes I have to actually go back and look at film because it just seems like a distant memory," he said. "But I have nothing but great feelings about what I did and being part of the organization. Like I said, I have moved on and hopefully this is second part of my life."