Christmas came early this year as the Jets and Modell's teamed up to give 25 Generation Jets Academy students a holiday shopping spree to remember.
When the students faithfully boarded the bus in Brooklyn on Monday afternoon, they were unaware of the evening that was to come, the $250 gift card to Modell's, and the eight Jets players – Erin Henderson, Julian Howsare, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Taiwan Jones, Dexter McDougle, Ryan Quigley, Trevor Reilly and Marcus Williams – awaiting their arrival in Bridgewater, NJ.
But the jig was up when the students, selected to participate in the event based on their performance in the Jets Play 60 Challenge, pulled up to Modell's. The kids – three and four at a time – hopped off the bus giddy with the enthusiasm that often accompanies children around Christmastime. They were all eager to meet the player that would serve as their personal shopper/chaperone/fashion consultant/bag holder for their hour-long shopping spree.
Erin Henderson, Julian Howsare, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Dexter McDougle, Ryan Quigley, Trevor Reilly, Taiwan Jones and Marcus Williams Participate in the Shop with a Jock Event
By the end of the night no rack was left unturned and no shopping bag left unstuffed. And for DB Dexter McDougle, no fashion tip accepted.
"We're just having fun with it. I got them in the fitting rooms trying on their outfits," he said. "I tried to tell them how the style is. They tried to clown me a little bit with the skinny pants. I'm like, 'That's my style, man. Let me live. Let me live.'"
In the spirit of the season, the second-year cornerback went above and beyond to make the holidays extra special.
"I know they didn't really have the shoes he wanted, so we kind of had to settle. So I think I'm going to get him shoes without him knowing, just from me personally," McDougle said. "I wanted him to get the style he wanted in the color he wanted and get them sent to the house. It's all about giving back for the holidays."
The kids and players weren't the only ones enjoying themselves at Modell's.
"Well today I accompanied my daughter," Denise Watson explained. "She's a part of the Jets Academy afterschool program at P.S. 306 at Brooklyn, NY. So this is their annual Christmas treat. I am a grateful parent today. Really grateful.
"We came on a coach bus with TVs and Wi-Fi. The kids got pizza. I can't overemphasize how grateful we are. Very grateful. We really appreciate it."
Veteran LB Erin Henderson, who told his group he would cover their expenses exceeding the $250 limit, wanted to set a good example for his four-year-old son.
"There's more to the holidays and Christmastime than just getting stuff. It's about giving back too and taking care of others," he said. "There's an opportunity here for me to give back and take care and be a man of my word. I can show him things better than I can tell him so here we are."