The Kaufmanns from Long Island, you may or may not be aware, are one of the first and foremost Green & White families in Jets Nation.
And as Matt Kaufmann said, "It's as crazy as it sounds. It's all coincidence."
Jets fans at MetLife Stadium may recognize Colleen, Matt's "kid sister." Last year was her first as a member of the Flight Crew Cheerleaders.
As for Matt, if you're a Division III football junkie in the Eastern U.S., you may recall a defensive end by that name, No. 91, who had a pretty good senior season for another team that has come into the Jets universe: the SUNY Cortland Dragons. The Jets will return to Cortland in central New York State for the third time in four years for this summer's training camp.
"My brother, he's only 14 months older than I am," Colleen said. "I think that definitely helps our relationship. A lot of his friends are my friends and a lot of my friends are his friends. Of course, I look up to him. He's a very protective older brother."
Matt's also easy to look up to for Colleen and older sister Christine — he's 6'6" and 265 pounds. That size plus sub-4.7 speed in the 40-yard dash gives him the hope of making an NFL roster this offseason.
But he knows that will be a longshot. And that brings us to Cortland, where Matt wound up playing not because of an affinity for the Jets but because it was one of the few football programs that was interested in him. The general lack of attention was because he'd been out of the game for a while.
"We'll See What You Can Do"
"I played high school football, but I got hurt pretty bad at the end of my freshman year," Matt recalled. "I had a lot of surgeries and screws put into my ankle. I got back into things at a community college around here, playing rugby to get myself back into shape.
"I heard about Cortland, so I got in contact with them and sent them some film. When they heard pretty much my size, they said, 'Come on up, we'll meet you and see what you can do.' "
It took him a while, pretty much until his senior season in 2010, but he made a splash in 10 games with 10 tackles for loss and seven sacks — plus a touchdown reception as a TE on offense and a blocked kick on specials — for the playoff-bound Dragons.
That got him an invitation to last year's Atlanta regional combine workout and then to the Super Regional Combine in Detroit. And last month, when this year's college seniors were being put through their paces at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Kaufmann was again at a regional combine — in fact, he worked out at the same time at the New York/New Jersey regional combine, which just happened to be held at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, N.J.
If you got the impression that Al and Caroline Kaufmann raised an athletic family, you'd be right.
"Growing up, my sister was a big swimmer, and my brother played all kinds of sports — basketball, baseball, hockey and swimming. We all are definitely very athletic," said Colleen, who has to be in tip-top shape to be a cheerleader on director Denise Garvey's Flight Crew. "We have a second home up in Pennsylvania, and whenever we go there, we're kayaking on the Delaware, we hike the mountains. Since we were all very young kids, there was never a dull moment."
Kaufmann Core Curriculum
Brother and sisters are still helping each other out, even now that they're all grown up and going their separate ways.
"Matt graduated from Cortland with his degree in kinesiology," Colleen said. "Lucky for me that I have an older brother who's a personal trainer for when I have to get in shape for my auditions. It's pretty convenient."
"Coming home from workouts, Colleen had questions about soreness here and there," said Matt, who does construction work during the day and personal training at night and on weekends. "And when she had to work on her core, she asked me what kind of exercises she should do and I gave her some pointers. Those dancers, they've got to have a strong core to do all those crazy moves they're doing."
So should Colleen audition successfully again in the coming months and become a Flight Crew sophomore, in a given week she might warm up the rest of the Crew with that abdominal workout her bro gave her. Then on Sunday the whole family might venture from Lynbrook on the Island across New York City to the New Jersey Meadowlands to watch Colleen at her part-time job helping to get Jets fans in the spirit before and during a game at MetLife.
(The photo in our Centerpiece shows, from the left, Caroline, Al, Colleen, Matt, Christine and her fiancé, Brian Peterson, all in green gear before a Jets game.) And just perhaps this year, the family may also get to go to another NFL venue, or perhaps the same one that Colleen calls home, and watch Matt play some football on the big stage. That would be crazy and heartwarming and neat all rolled into one.