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"We're Putting the Band Back Together"

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How the New York Jets are bringing back former players.

Jeff Zelevansky

In the time that John Idzik has been the General Manager of the New York Jets, one of my favorite moves by the organization has been the noticeable involvement of former members of the team. The team is making a worthwhile effort in bringing back players, and in a sense, that started in 2010 when the team created the Ring of Honor. That elite group started off with Joe Namath, Curtis Martin, Joe Klecko, Don Maynard, Winston Hill, and Weeb Ewbank. Since then, Larry Grantham, Freeman McNeill, Gerry Philbin, Al Toon, Wesley Walker, Mark Gastineau, and Marty Lyons have joined. According to the team, Wayne Chrebet and Leon Hess will enter the Ring of Honor this year.

Lately, the team has brought players back through their Pilot of the Game program. In this program, the team looks to bring back "fan favorites," according to Brian Mulligan, the Senior Director of Events and Game Operations. This program brings back a team alumnus, guys "who haven't been back in a while" that were "impactful" during their time with the team, to lead the team walk outside the stadium and to meet fans. This came on the heels of numerous requests by fans, season ticket holders, and corporate sponsors to bring back the all-time greats. Here is a list of players that have returned to be Pilots of the Game, and ones that have visited the team in their Florham Park facility.

Date Event Player
08/17/13 NYJ vs. JAX Ken Schroy
08/29/13 NYJ vs. PHI Rich Caster
09/08/13 NYJ vs. TB Marvin Jones
09/22/13 NYJ vs. BUF Bruce Harper
10/13/13 NYJ vs. PIT Joe Klecko
10/13/13 NYJ vs. PIT Mark Gastineau
10/13/13 NYJ vs. PIT Marty Lyons
10/20/13 NYJ vs. NE Wayne Chrebet
11/03/13 NYJ vs. NO Brandon Moore
12/01/13 NYJ vs. MIA Mickey Shuler
12/08/13 NYJ vs. OAK Chad Pennington
12/22/13 NYJ vs. CLE Vinny Testaverde
Feb. 2014 Jets House Wayne Chrebet
Feb. 2014 Jets House Anthony Becht
Feb. 2014 Jets House Freeman McNeil
Feb. 2014 Jets House Wesley Walker
Feb. 2014 Jets House Randy Beverly
Feb. 2014 Jets House Victor Hobson
Feb. 2014 Jets House Emerson Boozer
Feb. 2014 Jets House Ray Mickens
Feb. 2014 Jets House Joe Klecko
Feb. 2014 Jets House Marvin Jones
Feb. 2014 Jets House Chad Pennington
Feb. 2014 Jets House Mark Gastineau
Feb. 2014 Jets House Greg Buttle
Feb. 2014 Jets House Marty Lyons
05/08/14 2014 NFL Draft Chad Pennington
05/08/14 2014 NFL Draft Marty Lyons
09/07/14 NYJ vs. OAK Emerson Boozer
09/22/14 NYJ vs. CHI Laveranues Coles
09/28/14 NYJ vs. DET Tony Richardson

One player to look out for is Thomas Jones, who should be returning later this season. Woody Johnson has taken a special interest in the program, and it sounds as though the team will particularly be making an effort to focus on the "modern" players, especially from the early 2000s, the era soon after Johnson bought the team.

When everything around the team feels like it's going so poorly, it's nice that the team is trying to bring back the guys that made us fans of the team in the first place. Hopefully, they'll be able to impart some knowledge onto the team so that its current players can finish their careers as great as these men.