Growing up a Jets fan on Long Island, Jeremy Ruckert relished the opportunity to go to football camps and to be able to get the chance to meet NFL players.
His dream was to one day play for the Jets and that was a dream that came true when the former Lindenhurst High School star was taken by the Jets in the third round of last year’s NFL Draft following his collegiate career at Ohio State.
Ruckert certainly hasn’t forgotten where he comes from and he knows that there are other kids like him growing up on Long Island with the same dreams he had. With the desire to give back to his community, Ruckert was back on Long Island Sunday to do a football camp at the Lou Anthony Sports Complex in Massapequa. The event, attended by more than 130 boys and girls, was presented by Pioneer Sports and the Massapequa PAL.
“It’s great,” said Ruckert. “I grew up here. I come here on the weekends. It’s where I’m from. It’s what I used to do when I was a kid.”
It’s one thing for an NFL player to have the opportunity to speak to children and to be able to teach them about the game of football, but when that player is from the same community as the children attending the event, it has a different meaning. On Sunday, it allowed Ruckert to deliver an important message to the kids who also have the dream of one day playing in the NFL.
“That it’s possible,” said Ruckert. “I grew up going to events where Jets players were and going to their practices when I was a kid and just dreaming that that could be me one day. Here we are now and just letting them know that it’s possible and that you just have to keep your head on your shoulders, keep working and maybe one day it will be them.”
Ruckert remembers being in the same shoes as the kids at Sunday’s event and now he’s gone from being one of those kids to playing in high school to playing in college and now playing for the team that he grew up rooting for. There was a time when he was star-struck when meeting an NFL player and now, he’s in the NFL playing coming back home to give back to his community and to give those children a day that they will never forget.
“That’s why I do it,” said Ruckert who is now living out his dream. “Now being there, seeing all the pictures on the walls and the people I grew up watching, some of the coaches on the team I grew up watching and being able to be in that building and be a part of that organization is just a dream come true.”
And now that dream come true is even better with the arrival of future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Following the acquisition of Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers, there has already been a seismic culture change at One Jets Drive in Florham Park. In just the handful of off-season workouts that Rodgers has participated in along with recruiting other players to the Jets and the reaction of Rodgers going to Knicks and Rangers playoff games, you can tell that these aren’t the “same old Jets” anymore.
The expectation now is to win.
“You can tell that the standard is set,” said Ruckert. “Anytime you add someone like that who’s been in the league for as long as he has and has been playing at such a high level, you know that there’s a certain standard that you gotta bring to work every day. Even the first couple of days he was here…not really structured practices…just throwing the ball around with him you could just tell that everything he does is intentional.”
And with Rodgers on board with the Jets, the National Football League is anticipating that Gang Green will an elite team in 2023 because multiple reports have surfaced that the Jets will have a significant number of nationally televised games this coming season.
We already know that the Jets will be playing the Browns in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 3, just two days before Jets legends Joe Klecko and Darrelle Revis are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
This Thursday, May 11, the NFL will release the 2023 regular season schedule and the Jets will find out how many times they’ll be in the national spotlight.
“Knowing that we might have five or six of them is pretty good,” said Ruckert. “I know we have some great opponents coming into our building and we get to go to some cool places too so it’s going to be cool.”
Ruckert remembers the last time that the Jets made noise in the NFL and that was back in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons when the Jets went to back-to-back AFC Championship Games. More than a decade later, the Jets could once again be knocking on the door of getting to a Super Bowl.
“Going to a few games during the regular season those years and being in the building now and seeing that we’re ready to get back to that level of play is exciting for me,” said Ruckert. “We’re all confident. We’re excited and ready to go.”
And so were the many children who were at Jeremy Ruckert’s camp on Sunday. There was a sea of green “RUCKERT 89” jerseys in Massapequa learning the game of football from a local hero from Long Island.
For Ruckert, it was a special day as well.
“To be able to come back and give back and see all of these kids come out just to hang out with me and play around on a nice day like this is great,” said Ruckert.
And maybe one day, maybe even in the next year or two with help from Rodgers, Ruckert could come back home to Long Island for another camp but this time with a special guest… the Vince Lombardi Trophy!
Photos are by Nicholas Esposito