Jets top pick D'Brickashaw Ferguson takes time to sign autographs after practice despite gruelling sessions and heat. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The Jets players have not been the only ones dealing with the sweltering conditions at camp thus far. Even as the mercury has continued to rise, droves of Jets fans from all over have shown up at Hofstra to watch the team practice and take in some of the other events going on around training camp. Despite the intense heat, the players and staff have gone out of their way to make the fanís experience pleasurable and memorable.
Admission and parking are free and Jets fans can watch the team practice from the side of the practice field. Bleacher seating is available but is done on a first come, first serve basis. Fans should probably try to show up a little early if the want seats for weekend or afternoon practices as the bleachers often fill up fast. Those who donít get seats can still watch practice from along the fence of the field.
Fans are encouraged to cheer on the team and are allowed to take pictures, although no video taping technology is allowed at training camp. Although practices have been running long and the team does not guarantee an opportunity to get autographs, most players have gone out of their way to connect with the fans and sign autographs near the bleachers despite being close to heat exhaustion after grueling sessions. The Jets media relations department has also made current and legendary Jets players available to sign autographs in the Jets Shop Tent between practices.
Aside from the scheduled signings, fans can also get some team merchandise at the Jets Shop Tent. Souvenirs, hats, jerseys, and apparel for men, women, and children can all be purchased at the shop. This is also where parents can sign their kids up for Generation Jets Fest.
The Jets also have a program with youth football where local teams are brought in to watch practice from the sidelines and interact with players and coaches after the session. Itís been a great experience over the last several years and helps children get closer and more excited about the sport of football.
The Jets Fest has been a mainstay at Jets camp for the last ten years as it provides family entertainment for the younger generation of fans. This is an area off to the side of the Jets practice field where the team has set up activities such as inflatable rides and skill challenges with a football theme for younger fans attending the camp. Some of the challenges include running back drills, a quarterback challenge, and the chance to kick a field goal through real uprights. Jets Fest is open every day that the Jets hold practice on the Hofstra campus although it was closed on Tuesday due to excessive heat.
Children can also take part in some special events that are held at Jets camp the Dunkiní Donuts Punt, Pass, & Kids. This is an event where kids under the age of 14 can challenge one another in passing, punting, and kicking drills. The Jets also have Delta Touchdown Tuesdays every Tuesday during training camp where kids of all ages are allowed to run on the same practice field used by the Jets and score a touchdown. Children can also receive player trading cards on Touchdown Tuesdays.
On several days in August, the Jets will have special events and giveaways for fans of all ages. There will be some mini-practices, special concerts, and promotional items made available for those in attendance. The concerts are held on the Delta Sound Stage located in Jets Fest. Most of the activities run throughout the entire day so fans do not have to worry about being bored in between practices when the team has two-a-days.
Thus far the heat has only put a damper on Tuesday August 1, as the Jets Fest activities were cancelled due to the extreme heat. Today practice was moved from 2PM to 5:45 due to the heat.
The team has had on average around 3,000 fans showing up every day which is a slight decrease from previous years but once the heat wave breaks that number should increase significantly.
The Jets are taking several precautions to help fans beat the heat at training camp. The have set p water coolers and cups around the bleachers so fans can have cold water to stay hydrated. Fans are also welcome to visit one of the Jets food court just behind the bleachers in Jets Fest. Salads, wraps, beverages, and other foods are sold.
Last year about 55,000 fans visited training camp, according to the Jets website. This has not gone unnoticed by the players.
ďI think we have always had a great fan base here at training camp,Ē said veteran guard Pete Kendall. ďItís always good to have the fans there to support you.Ē
Training camp opened on July 28 and will run through August 23. The team encourages fans to check out www.nyjets.com/trainingcamp for a full practice and events schedule.
Any fan with further concerns or questions can contact the Jets at (516) 560-8204 or (516) 560-8100.