For the price of about two visits to a movie theater, parents were able to bring their kids to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Saturday to participate in the annual Generation Jets Kids Clinic and run through football drills with the entire Jets rookie class for two hours.
With the sun shining brightly on the FieldTurf field that borders the Jets facility, kids from the ages of 4 to 12 anxiously awaited the day's events while parents got in position along the sidelines to find the best spot to photograph or videotape their child (or first-round draft pick Mark Sanchez).
"We're all Jets for the day," said Sanchez, who spread the kids out along the 40-yard line and helped lead them through a series of warmups, including neck rolls, hip swings and "J-E-T-S jumping jacks" – a spontaneously created exercise that had the kids screaming out part of the Jets chant with each jump.
Kids were then grouped by size and music started blaring as they began to cycle through several drill stations, each hosted by at least two players and including the Jets' three draft picks and all their undrafted free agents.
They got a chance to plant a hand in the turf and run full-force into players holding pads, backpedal to cover the "open receiver" before going for the interception, and work on their go-routes while players tossed them Hail Mary passes.
A highlight for the older kids may have been the quarterback drill, in which Sanchez and former Harvard QB Chris Pizzotti simulated some pressure in the pocket by instructing kids to maneuver around floor pads before throwing a ball into an angled garbage bin.
"You like being a quarterback?" Sanchez said to the kids. "Me, too."
Following the fun and games, all of the players sat at tables so the kids could line up and get autographs on their jerseys, helmets, photos and footballs.
One kid had a ball with many signatures already on it but surprised Sanchez when he pulled out the only Namath jersey the Jets rookie had seen that day.
"I feel weird signing that one," he told the kid, "but let me sign your ball."
"That's something pretty special and I didn't want to sign the jersey like that," Sanchez said later. "That's Joe's jersey. I'll make my own mark on this franchise and we'll see how it goes."
Parents were also able to attend the Morristown Memorial Health Fair prior to the Kids Clinic. There was an array of tables with friendly people offering information on topics ranging from how to improve your golf swing if you're feeling pain to how best to prevent skin and colon cancer.
"Probably the coolest thing is the diversity of stuff they've had here," said offensive lineman Rob Turner, who happened to be in house Saturday. "I sat in on a concussion seminar earlier. They had body-fat testing, another concussion station out here, general health stuff, colon cancer, weight control. They had a wide gamut of stuff.
"If I wasn't a football player and we didn't get that stuff, kind of, provided for us, then this would be a real cool thing to come to."
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"It was awesome," Sanchez said after everyone had gone home. "I mean, the best part is you see all these kids having fun and smiling. It's a great way to spend a Saturday. They all get to be Jets for a day. I'm lucky enough to be a Jet for life now, so it's pretty special and I'm just happy to be a part of it."