Super Bowl Week is in full swing, and we were in the heart of Manhattan today to celebrate the first cold-weather outdoor Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, at a restaurant that has been renamed Jets House just for the occasion.
And what better way to kick off Jets House's week of life than by having a pair of Jets and Jersey guys talking up the big game in front of a band of loud and proud Green & White fans.
"I didn't think it would be here," defensive end on the rise Muhammad Wilkerson said. "But I think it's great having the game here in the tristate area. And it doesn't get any better than these Jets fans here."
Wideout legend Wayne Chrebet couldn't have agreed more.
"Get rid of the whole topic of weather, and it's a great place to have a Super Bowl," Chrebet told me. "You get all the home teams, the Nets and Knicks, having home games, Billy Joel's playing at the Garden, the NHL had the Winter Classic. It's the best place to have a Super Bowl. It's a shame we're not in it, but they should definitely have a Super Bowl here."
While the Jets didn't realize their wildest dreams and earn a place in the big game, we did the next best thing by opening up Jets House to allow our fans a place to eat, drink, hang, mix with current and former players, and enjoy the buildup to XLVIII in this unique way.
There was a full house in today's single day session in the former and future Lugo's Caffé literally across the street from Madison Square Garden, and full houses are set for the two sessions Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with some tickets still available Sunday, the day of the Broncos-Seahawks showdown.
"This is great for Jets fans to experience this," Chrebet said, looking out on the mini gang Green on the restaurant floor. "I like this."
Wilkerson and Chrebet were batting leadoff for today's opening. They started out on the small raised level labeled the Presidio, sitting in directors' chairs and engaging in a Q&A session with Eric Allen, my partner who masterfully kept the questions coming through multiple interview periods all day and is expected to keep doing it through Sunday.
One thing the former star and the current star had in common was an appreciation for each other's on-field talents.
"I didn't know too much about Wayne's story," said Wilkerson, a Linden, NJ, native who starred at Temple, "but what I can say is that when I did watch the Jets on TV, he was definitely one name that came up. He definitely made some big catches."
"Nice. I like it," Chrebet, the Garfield and Hofstra standout, said of Wilk's game. "He gets in there fast sometimes. It's great watching him play. And I love that front line, causing havoc in the backfield."
The two had their own views on what we need to ascend to that next level — the perennial playoff level. Chrebet likes offense and receivers. Mo thinks more defense is the way to go.
But both concurred that the future is bright green.
"I know the Jets are gong to make the postseason pretty soon," Wilkerson said. When EA gave the natural followup question — How soon? 2014, maybe? — Wilk didn't back down. "You want to put me on the spot, yeah, we're going to make the playoffs."
And Chrebet said "the best fans" deserve a big game in the future with their team in it.
"I wish we were playing in this one," he said. "Maybe next time they have it here, we'll be in the big game."
And maybe sooner. In which case it looks as if Jets House may have to take its show on the road.