Jets players Brad Smith and Wallace Wright returned to Holy Family Middle School in Florham Park, N.J., on Tuesday to celebrate the students' completion of the Play 60 Challenge. Over the past four weeks children were challenged to do 60 minutes of exercise a day.
Smith and Wright brought excitement to the school and encouraged children to continue living a healthy lifestyle.
"The obesity rate is up in this country and we want to make sure these kids are healthy and have the best chance they can possibly have in life," said Wright. "For me and Brad to come out here and spend our day with these kids, it means a whole lot to us, it means a whole lot to them."
"I know when I was younger I didn't have the opportunity to meet the professional athletes to come to our school and hang out with us at gym class," said Smith. "I can only imagine how that felt and the impact it will leave."
The NFL's Play 60 program is effective because it teaches children to make exercise a part of their daily lives.
"If you do it one time, chances are it's not going to happen again," said American Heart Association regional director Marci Robinson. "If they do it over a course of four weeks it just becomes a part of their everyday routine."
Statistics show that daily exercise helps students' performance in the classroom.
"Incorporating this program where the kids can actually get up and engage in some type of physical activity, it really just helps the blood flowing to the brain," said Holy Family principal James Singagliese. "Wallace and Brad are just the nicest guys and they really get these guys pumped up when they're here."
The two receivers did numerous drills to get the students moving around — over-under, jumprope, free throw shooting contest and a pass-and-catch contest — the last being part of how No. 16 and No. 15 make a living on the football field. They're also instrumental pieces on special teams and even in the running game.
As the Jets head to Tampa to play the Bucs this Sunday, they may be targeted with passes from another quarterback. Fourth-year veteran QB Kellen Clemens will get his first start of the season for the injured Mark Sanchez.
"He's one of the smartest guys that I've had the pleasure to be around," said Brad Smith. "I think we're in good hands as a team."
"We have all the confidence in the world that he's going to step in there and do his job and take care of the things we need him to do," said Wright. "I'm excited to see what he's going to do with the opportunity. He just has to go out there and make the best of the opportunity and have fun."
"It was a six-game season two weeks ago. Now it's down to a four-game season," said Smith. "This is about being consistent in how we approach this game, playing Jets football, attacking, and special teams is an important phase for us to make some plays and hopefully enough to help win the game."
Smith played QB in college while at Missouri, but now he plays WR. On a team that has the No. 1 rushing attack in the league, Smith knows that his versatility — which includes running options and end-arounds on occasion — can be an asset in changing up the pace in the backfield.
"Whenever my number is called I just try to contribute," Smith said. "We have two great running backs in Shonn Greene and Thomas Jones. Anything that we can do to contribute at any position, receiver position, whether it's reverses or any other type of offense we can contribute, if you run the football in this league you have a great chance of winning."
At this point in the season winning is the only option for the Green & White if they hope to have a chance at the playoffs. With that in mind they know they can't overlook any opponent, even the 1-11 Bucs.
"It just comes down to focus and preparation in the film room, studying our plays and assignments and just staying on top of that," Smith said. "We need to be prepared to be able to play a tough, physical football game. You don't try to overthink it. You just have to play and the rest will take care of itself."
You might even say Smith, Wright and all the Jets have to play 60.