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Fans Enjoyed Training Center Minicamp Experience


Many Jets fans risked weather reports of intermittent showers to get their first glimpses of the next era of Jets football during last week's three days of open full-squad minicamp practices.

Those used to watching the team practice at Long Island's Hofstra campus, where they spent summers for the better part of the last five decades, were impressed with the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, N.J.

"Very nice, very nice facility," said Mike from Pennsylvania. "The last time I went to see the Jets practice, Joe Namath was playing, so that tells you how long ago that was."

The AHJTC, the team's home for football and business operations that isn't even a year old, was the site of the practices on its four outdoor fields.

"I think this is more fan-friendly," said Mike. "I remember, going to Hofstra, there was a fence. You couldn't get as close as you can get here. I mean, this is top-notch."

Mike also happens to work at Tiffany's, which makes the Super Bowl trophy and also the rings for many of the NFL's Super Bowl winners.

"We would love to hand-deliver the Super Bowl trophy to the Jets," he said. "We won't even have to send it. We're over in Whippany. We'll drive it right over."

The Jets and their fans would love to have that trophy delivered, too, but first things first. The Green & White have six weeks to go before heading up to SUNY Cortland for training camp.

This may be the earliest in a football off-season that Jets fans, or any NFL fans, have had the opportunity to watch their team play some ball. Head coach Rex Ryan said the Jets didn't want to neglect the team's North Jersey fans, given that the team is holding its summer training camp in upstate New York.

"We're probably the only team in the league who has our mandatory minicamp open to the public," Ryan said at a news conference last week. "We're trying to make ourselves available as best we can in our community here."

Pete, originally from Brooklyn, is a longtime fan who watched the Jets when they practiced on Long Island and also enjoyed watching them in Florham Park.

"Me and my father have been Jets season ticket holders for 21 years," he said. "It's beautiful. It's better than anything I've seen."

He also brought nearly 40 kids he works with on a field trip to the Jets practice.

"They're just enjoying it," he said. "It's something different for them."

Jordan from Morristown was a younger fan who came to watch practice all-three days.

"It's really nice. I like it a lot," he said. "The defense is looking good. Eric Smith caught a couple of interceptions yesterday. I saw that."

The Jets have more practices planned at their facility for those who missed out on last week's dates. Practices are scheduled in Florham Park for Aug. 22, 26 and 27.

"After watching practices at the complex the past two days I was just so impressed with the facility they have built," said Ira Lieberfarb, also known as "Ira from Staten Island," in an email.

"It's really amazing and the Jets did a great job of making practices fun and available to the fans. Also, the shuttle service from the parking lots to the facility and back were really run very well. Maybe next time in August we will catch a break with the weather."

And Ira ended with his trademark exclamation: 'GO JETS!!!!!"

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