Updated Tuesday, June 5, 1:25 p.m. ET
The Taste was sensational.
The ninth New York Jets Taste of the NFL benefit presented by A&P and MasterCard was held Thursday night in the elegant and spacious Cipriani Wall Street, and a good time was had by all the Jets players, coaches, personnel, Flight Crew members and fans who were in attendance.
"This is a great opportunity to spend time with the fans and it all goes to a good cause," said center Nick Mangold, who for the fifth year hosted the event along with cornerback Darrelle Revis to fight hunger in the community. "It's a neat event, especially in a New York venue like this. I'm a big supporter and I will be in the future."
Mangold and Revis were among the most popular Jets in attendance and they held court in the center of the large hall, signing autographs, taking photos and schmoozing football with the fans who showed up again in large numbers to make this event as big a success as ever. As one observer noted, "Revis' line is never-ending."
But a number of teammates were posted up in all corners of Cipriani, combining with 17 of the top restaurants in New York and New Jersey for stations that provided fans with the opportunity to interact with the players as well as get a plate of food for a "taste" of one of the corresponding restaurant's signature dishes, not to mention a chance to sample the several varieties of Uncorked wines.
"The only time I ever did anything like this was right before I got to the NFL and they had a Taste of the NFL down in Tampa," said linebacker Aaron Maybin about the national Taste event that's held annually at the site of that year's Super Bowl. "The Jets organization is so huge into the community and this just ties into everything I try to do off the field as well."
DT Marcus Dixon was asked what about the Taste — his first — impressed him the most.
"The food. Toloache's amazing," Dixon touted about the Manhattan Mexican restaurant he was with, which was presenting Tacos de Costilla with Pasilla de Oaxaca salsa and avocado. "This is great. It's all about the fan base. It's just another way for the Jets to give back. Don't forget where you come from."
Other Jets were particularly proud of the restaurants they were paired with Thursday night. Joe McKnight was very high on his restaurant, Southern Hospitality, and their surely low-cal crawfish, andouille and jalapeño macaroni and cheese.
And kicker Nick Folk had a little taste of home for the fans who stopped by his station.
"I'm from California's San Fernando Valley," said Folk, back for another Taste after working the event two years ago shortly after he was signed by the Jets. "Right over the mountain, Michael's opened their first restaurant in Santa Monica 23 years ago. Then they opened a spot in New York and here we are again. There are a lot of great restaurants here and a lot of great fans — New York has the best fans in the world."
Eric Allen and members of the Jets' multimedia department also worked the room Thursday night, getting interviews from all corners of the gathering. Their video will be available on newyorkjets.com on Monday
Besides Mangold and Revis, the list of Jets players at the Taste of the NFL included Yeremiah Bell, John Conner, Quinton Coples, Demario Davis, Mike DeVito, Marcus Dixon, Nick Folk, Stephen Hill, Aaron Maybin, Greg McElroy, Joe McKnight, Chaz Schilens, Muhammad Wilkerson and Kyle Wilson.
And the list of metropolitan area restaurants represented at the event included:
Nobu, Lavo, Tao, Southern Hospitality, Wildwood Barbeque, Michael's, Delicatessen, Toloache, Patsy's Italian Restaurant, Fascino, Marc Forgione, Circo Ristorante, Burger & Barrel, Lucky's Famous Burgers, Commerce, Cipriani, and A&P.
More than 500 people were in attendance at this year's Taste, which raised $200,300 to combat hunger in the metropolitan area. The previous Jets Taste of the NFL in 2010 also raised more than $200,000.
The Taste is one of the many annual events that come under the umbrella of the New York Jets Foundation. Host Bob Wischusen, the radio voice of the Jets, introduced general manager Mike Tannenbaum, who told the group, "Every player on the roster will participate in at least one event every year, so we'll have 100 percent participation in helping our community. Our responsibility is to give back."