The much anticipated arrival of one of the New York Jets' biggest offseason acquisitions occurred this afternoon as former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes made his first appearance at the SUNY Cortland practice facility.
The wide receiver who made the game winning touchdown catch in Super Bowl XLIII will be a major weapon in the Jets' offense this season, and he had the opportunity to display his talents for the first time at camp today.
"The first day was cool," Holmes said. "I actually didn't think I was going to be ready for it. I was doing a lot of traveling and a lot of family time and issues. I think it's just a mental thing. I got back into the groove, I was ready to go. Coach had to pull me out of two-minute drill today because he was like 'This is only your first day, you're not fully in shape with the rest of the guys.' So I had to watch myself a little bit, but the first day was great."
Holmes was allowed to report for camp today as opposed to Sunday when the rest of his teammates reported because he was with his 8-year-old son, Santonio III, in Atlanta. His son was undergoing spleen removal surgery because of complications from sickle cell anemia.
Holmes helps support his son and others like him through his Third and Long Foundation, which raises awareness and money for the Sickle Cell Disease Association. Santonio III's surgery was one he desperately needed to have, but it would have been too dangerous to perform until now.
"It was touching," Holmes said. "Just knowing him being at the age of 8, having to deal with a surgery at that age, you kind of lose track of everything. I didn't even think about football and all my attention was pulled towards him. I gave him all the support that he needed throughout the time."
The Belle Glade, Fla., native and Ohio State product made sure to tend to his son, and even once he finally got the clearance from Santonio III to head to camp, Holmes has made sure to get updates and stay in touch during all of his free time. The two are quite close, as they frequently Skype, call and message one another. His son was the first to hug him after his Super Bowl-winning catch.
Because of their connection, Holmes was sad to leave, but understood it was time for him to go to work.
"He just said, 'I'll see you later,' " Holmes said. "He gave me a hug and said that he loved me. I think we have a special bond that we understand each other and he knows that Dad works hard when I'm here."
Holmes certainly extended himself in his first practice, coming up with two touchdown receptions. One was from Mark Sanchez, a spectacular diving grab in the back of the end zone.
He seemed to jell with his teammates with ease and noted that many of the coaches and players had sent him messages and called him to check in during the past three days. They're a tight-knit group and even though the kinks have to be worked out across the board, it appears the combination of Holmes, Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards will be very difficult for secondaries to deal with once Holmes' four-game suspension ends.
"That's what we're here for," Holmes said. "We're here to make plays and continue what we started back in OTAs and continue into training camp right now is a big start. It's going to be fun. We all know our roles. Nobody is trying to be bigger than the team or bigger than the group that we have."