Jim Leonhard and Kris Jenkins, despite being on injured reserve, sent their teammates off to New England today by leading a number of Green & White favorites at the Jets' playoff rally at New Meadowlands Stadium.
General manager Mike Tannenbaum and former players Joe Klecko, Mark Gastineau and Ray Lucas helped the Jets host over 3,500 fans at the rally in advance of the Jets' AFC Divisional Round matchup against the Patriots on Sunday afternoon.
"I want to thank everybody. You guys are the best," Tannenbaum told the crowd. "You've led us to five home wins in this great new stadium, so thanks, everybody. We're back to the divisional round of the playoffs for a second year in a row. We have a great coaching staff, our players had a great week of practice and we're led by a veteran group of guys."
During the rally, head coach Rex Ryan and his crew were in route to Foxboro to prepare for their AFC East rivals. In East Rutherford, however, the Jets faithful packed the field, the concourse and the plaza inside the west gate of the stadium. The fans had plenty of entertainment, from watching an hour-long highlights show of the Green & White's wild-card victory over the Colts to participating in kicking and passing challenges, before the event even kicked into gear.
At 1 p.m., the fans, who braved frigid temperatures, flocked to the stage in the plaza and were brimming with excitement to be a part of the Jets' rally in their state-of-the-art stadium. They enjoyed a variety of foods from the concession stands and hopped into the Jets Shop Flagship Store powered by Reebok to grab new merchandise to support their team, which is one step away from the AFC Championship Game.
The thrills really began when the New York Jets Flight Crew and the ever-energetic Fireman Ed took the stage. The Flight Crew danced for the crowd and Fireman Ed gave a rousing speech before igniting the crowd with a "J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!" cheer that might have been heard in Foxboro.
The focus of the day was the Green & White's impending duel with the rival Patriots, whom the Jets have gone 2-2 against during Ryan's tenure as the team's head coach. Before the festivities began, Klecko gave his assessment of this season's rubber match between the teams.
"The Jets don't need to get fired up about this much more than they are," Klecko said. "The thing about it is the players they have offensively, we have as many weapons if not more than the Patriots as far as scoring. If we can keep the ball away from them a little bit and create some opportunities special teams-wise, fumbles, interceptions and so forth, I think it's going to be a great game."
Leonhard was a bit bummed that he couldn't be on the field with his teammates because of a leg injury that landed him on IR, but he and the charismatic Jenkins, who sustained a season-ending knee injury way back on opening night, were enthusiastic about the Jets' business trip up to New England. While Leonhard hasn't been able to perform on the field, he's stayed close to the guys in the locker room and believes his teammates are prepared to come home with a win.
"I don't know about a score prediction, but I'm just predicting a W," Leonhard said. "That's all that really matters. It doesn't have to be pretty. Survive and advance any way. It's the playoffs."