The streets of downtown Cortland were full of enthusiasm and energy this afternoon as several hundred fans welcomed the Jets back to their town.
With local radio station Oldies 101.5 on site and airing a live broadcast, many fans started making their way downtown more than an hour before the squad's scheduled 3 p.m. ET arrival ceremony.
Camera flashes rapidly began firing and cheers grew in volume once the team bus finally turned onto Main Street at about 3:15 p.m.
Head coach Rex Ryan along with rookie first-round draft selection Quinton Coples addressed the crowd on stage from inside the Oldies 101.5 tent set up directly in front of the town's post office.
But before Ryan addressed the crowd, Cortland Mayor Brian Torbin presented him with a plaque, which read "Café Ryan," a reference to Ryan and the Jets' first two summers in Cortland, as well as a key to the city.
Ryan, who enters his fourth season leading the Jets, was gracious as well as "amazed" by the fan support displayed toward his squad Thursday.
"I just can't tell you how much we missed you," Ryan told the Green & White fans in attendance. "Obviously it even showed on the field [last year], and it's a big part of what we do in team-building. Cortland is a special place to us and we really appreciate everything you do."
Coples, who produced a stellar four-year collegiate career at North Carolina, spoke on behalf of the Jets' rookies.
"We're excited about being a part of the Jets this next year," the 6'6", 285-pound defensive end said. "We're excited about Coach Rex Ryan picking us. This is a great turnout, and we're looking forward to the season."
Prior to the team's arrival, SUNY Cortland President Dr. Erik Bitterbaum, Cortland Chamber of Commerce executive director Bob Haight, and Torbin all took turns addressing the crowd.
"A few years ago we had 41,000 guests over three weeks," Bitterbaum informed the crowd. "We're expecting a little more than that this year."
The Jets last held training camp at SUNY Cortland in 2010, a season in which they advanced all the way to the AFC Championship Game.
The Jets will kick off training camp Friday morning at 8 a.m. in a practice closed to the public. The team's first open practice is set for Saturday morning starting at 8 a.m.
And although Thursday's parade on Main Street lasted a mere five minutes, everyone present took to heart the message being promoted.
"Believe me, we're going to give you plenty to cheer about this season," Ryan said.