Jeremy Ruckert grew up on Long Island as a Jets fan and relished the chance to attend football camps and meet NFL players.

His dream is to play for the Jets one day, and when the former Lindenhurst High School star was drafted by the Jets in the third round of last year’s NFL draft after finishing his college career at Ohio State University, the The dream came true.

Rookett certainly hasn’t forgotten where he’s from, and he knows there are other kids growing up on Long Island like him with the same dreams he had. With a desire to give back to his community, Ruckert returned to Long Island on Sunday to host a football camp at the Lou Anthony Sports Complex in Massapequa. Sponsored by Pioneer Sports and Massapequa PAL, over 130 boys and girls participated.

“It’s fantastic,” Ruckert said. “I grew up here. I come here on weekends. It’s where I come from. It’s what I used to do as a kid.”

It’s one thing for an NFL player to have the opportunity to talk to kids and teach them about the game of football, but it takes on a different meaning when the player is from the same community as the kids attending the event. On Sunday, Ruckert had an important message for kids who also dream of playing in the NFL one day.

“It’s possible,” Ruckert said. “I grew up going to events where the Jets players went and going to their practices as a kid, just dreaming that one day that could be me. We’re here now, just to let them know it’s possible, you just have to put your head down Put it on your shoulders and keep working, maybe one day it will be them.”

Ruckert remembers wearing the same shoes as the kids at Sunday’s game, and he’s gone from being one of those kids to playing in high school to college and now playing for the team he grew up supporting. There was a time when he met an NFL player and he was obsessed with it, and now he’s playing in the NFL, returning home, giving back to his community, and giving those kids something they’ll never forget day.

“That’s why I’m doing it,” said Rookett, who is now living his dream. “Being there now, seeing all the pictures on the wall and the people I grew up watching, some of the coaches on the teams I grew up watching, it’s just a dream come true to be able to go into that building and be part of that organization. .”

Now, that dream has gotten even better with the arrival of future Hall of Famer quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

One Jets Drive in Florham Park has undergone a sea change of culture following the acquisition of Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers. In the handful of offseason workouts Rodgers has attended and the reaction to recruiting other players to the Jets and Rodgers’ participation in the Knicks and Rangers playoff games, you can tell these aren’t “the same old Jets” anymore .

Now the expectation is to win.

“You could tell the standards had been set,” Ruckert said. “Anytime you add a guy like him, as long as he’s been in the league and been playing at such a high level, you know you have to go to work with a certain standard every day. A few days … not really structured practice either … just passing the ball with him and you could tell everything he was doing was intentional.”

With Rodgers joining the Jets, the NFL expects Gang Green to be an elite team in 2023, amid multiple reports that the Jets will play a large number of nationally televised games next season.

We already knew the Jets would play the Browns in a Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 3, just two days before Jets legends Joe Klecko and Darrelle Revis were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This Thursday, May 11, when the NFL releases its 2023 regular-season schedule, the Jets will find out how many times they’ll be in the national spotlight.

“It’s nice to know we have maybe five or six of these guys,” Ruckert said. “I know we’ve got some great opponents coming into our building, and we can go to some cool places as well, so it’s going to be cool.”

Ruckert remembers the last time the Jets made a splash in the NFL, back-to-back AFC title games in 2009-10 and 2010-11. More than a decade later, the Jets could be knocking on the Super Bowl door again.

“Being in a couple of games during the regular season in those years and being in the building now, it’s exciting to see that we’re ready to get back to playing at that level,” Ruckert said. “We’re all very confident. We’re excited and ready to go.”

So did many of the kids at Jeremy Ruckert’s camp on Sunday. Have a green “RUCKERT 89” jersey in Massapequa and learn the game of football from a local hero from Long Island.

It was also a special day for Ruckert.

“It was amazing to be able to come back and give back and see all these kids come out just to hang out with me and play on such a beautiful day,” Ruckert said.

Maybe one day, maybe even in the next year or two, with Rodgers’ help, Rookett can return home to Long Island for another training camp, but this time with a special guest… Vince Long Baldi trophy!


Photo by Nicholas Esposito

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