The sixth annual Jets House got off and flying Saturday morning at SPIN New York, and one Jet who threw himself into the middle of the activity at the first of the weekend's sessions was none other than quarterback Sam Darnold.
Darnold was asked if this green-and-white descent onto the ping-pong emporium in lower Manhattan in any way had a Southern Cal vibe. He wasn't buying it.
"Usually when people think of Southern California, they think chill, relaxed. This is anything but," Darnold said amid the din of the music and the joyful noise from the fans. "But you know, it's very exciting. There's a lot of excitement around this next season and I'm just thrilled to kind of get after it."
He did that first with an hour-plus of signing and posing for several hundred fans. It reminded him of his time growing up as a follower of the USC Trojans.
"I got to spend time with the players there, got to say hi or get an autograph," he said. "It's great to be able to do that now for Jets fans."
Many remarked about Darnold's late-season progress in guiding the 2018 Jets offense. One of those was former Green & White fullback Tony Richardson, who was also on hand for the Saturday morning fans and recalled that he and Darnold teamed up at the QB's first public appearance as a Jet, the day after April's draft at Goryeb Children's Hospital located on the campus of Morristown (NJ) Medical Center.
"From that day forward, I've gotten an appreciation for Sam as a person," T-Rich said. "Just to see his maturation throughout the season, I thought, was just amazing. And that's the biggest thing for him going from year one to year two — he's going to be better. I think toward the end of this past season he kind of settled into his own, and I think the future's bright."
Darnold likened the Jets House vibe to what he's feeling with the arrival of new head coach Adam Gase and his staff.
"I've talked with Coach Gase and I've had conversations with Dowell [Loggains, just named offensive coordinator] about what we're going to do offensively, and also what the culture on the team is going to look like," he said. "I'm just really excited to have those conversations with them, and I think this is a great environment to start that off."
And with that, Darnold shifted from autograph and interview mode into table tennis guy, picking up the paddle and sending SPIN's trademark orange ping-pong balls back and forth over the net on the main table with several Jets fans. It was a fun way to kick off the weekend's festivities.
Others who joined Darnold and Richardson in the morning were current players Mike Pennel, Darryl Roberts and Rashard Robinson and Legend and fan favorite Leon Washington, who we'll present a feature on later in the coming week on newyorkjets.com. Saturday night's expected lineup included Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Bilal Powell and Brian Winters and Legends Erik Coleman and Willie Colon.
Sunday's brunch session lists Anderson and Robinson making returning engagements along with Doug Middleton as well as Jets receiving Legends Wayne Chrebet and Laveranues Coles. And among the expected participants at the afternoon Pro Bowl Viewing Party are Steve McLendon, Nathan Shepherd and Winters plus two Legend-ary offensive linemen who know their way around the Pro Bowl scene — D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold.
The Jets House presenting partner is Green Giant and supporting partners are Clean Eats, Corona Extra, Foodtown, JetBlue and playMGM.