First came the recent flurry of Jets players being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Kevin Mawae in 2019, Winston Hill a year later, and early this month, a Green & White daily double with Darrelle Revis and Joe Klecko gaining entry into the Canton, Ohio, shrine.
And it figured that we wouldn't have to wait long before the Jets got another invitation, this one to play in the annual Hall of Fame Game.
The invite arrived in less than a month. The Jets will be playing in the 2023 Hall of Fame Game against the Cleveland Browns at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, right next door to the Hall, on Thursday night, Aug. 3 (8 p.m.).
The game will be played one day before Revis and Klecko are recognized at the Enshrinees' Gold Jacket Dinner held at the Canton Memorial Civic Center and Cultural Center and two days before the Class of 2023 enshrinement ceremoney is held at the stadium.
Tickets for the 2023 Hall of Fame Game go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday, March 8. Fans can learn more about the matchup and purchase tickets at profootballhof.com/tickets.
Who will be the Jets' stars in their third Hall of Fame Game appearance? Some names from the franchise's past have stood out in their first two trips to play in the annual first game of the NFL season.
In 1977, at then-named Fawcett Stadium, they lost to Chicago, 20-6, after taking a 6-0 lead, on two second-quarter field goals by Pat Leahy, into the locker room at halftime. In the third quarter, LB Don Rives had a 38-yard return of an interception of QB Steve Joachim to give the Bears a 10-6 lead they never lost.
Richard Todd, in his second year as a Jets QB and his first as a preseason opening-day starter, completed eight of 17 passes for 37 yards, and a couple of high draft picks by the names of WR Wesley Walker and tackle Marvin Powell made their pro debuts.
"I'm disappointed that we fumbled. That's mental," said Walt Michaels, after his first game as Jets head coach about his side's six turnovers. "But we played it like we said we were going to play it and we used everybody. Chicago did a lot of unusual things, but that's what a veteran team that's looking forward to a championship season can do."
Fifteen years later, the Jets returned to the summer lidlifter, this time with a more veteran and less mistake-prone squad that pounded Philadelphia, 41-14, in the 1992 HOF Game. That was the first win in a 5-0 preseason for the Green & White before they struggled in the regular season under third-year HC Bruce Coslet.
This game presented another Jets QB making an "opening day" start in Browning Nagle. With veteran Ken O'Brien holding out of training camp, Nagle completed 10 of 15 for 142 yards and a touchdown pass to RB Pat Chaffey in his half of work. Nagle also ran for a TD, as did second-year RB Blair Thomas, while the defense scored twice, on interception returns by Dennis Byrd, moved from DT to DE by Coslet and his staff, and rookie LB Glenn Cadrez. The Eagles, playing without QB Randall Cunningham, were held to 224 yards of offense.
"I thought he showed a lot of poise out there," GM Dick Steinberg said of Nagle. "He scrambled and improvised. He generally had control of our offense."
Things sometimes work out the way they look like they might in early August, and sometimes they don't. But winning this game in northeastern Ohio, while desirable, isn't of utmost importance. More significantly, the Jets, 31 years after their most recent preseason game in Canton, will be looking to come together in the first game of their third season in head coach Robert Saleh's program while also representing the NFL on one of its iconic stages.