The New York Jets continue to hold unique events for their fans. Here’s an exclusive sit down with kicker Nick Folk at the “Taste of NFL” event.
When I watch Jet games, the kicking game is often not my focus, that is, until it is. Part of that is because Folk has been such a steady presence, I’m free to think about other parts of the game I’m watching as it unfolds.
The same thing happened when I attended the the Taste of the NFL with the Jets this year, there were all kinds of excitement, good food music and fun, but in the end, it was Folk who made it a solid night for me, pleasantly chatting about the event, our kids and even giving a little insight into what some felt last year was a perceived rivalry when he had to watch another player fill in his spot. For me, that may have been the best thing on the menu.
That said, it wasn’t the only thing that made this a great experience. This year’s event was presented by 98.7FM ESPN Radio and Calandra’s Bakery featuring delicious dishes from restaurants such as Calandra’s, Dizzy’s, Emma’s Ale House, Galli, ICE, Lavo, Lugo, Lure Fishbar, Michael’s, Nobu Fifty Seven, Trademark, Tao, Tavern on Jane, the Arlington Club and the Boat House for the 13th annual Taste of the Jets held this past Wednesday night in Manhattan’s Chelsea District.
The festive gala was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion, and hosted by former Jets’ linebacker Bart Scott. He did a great job pumping up the crowd with funny quips and basically touting center Nick Mangold in an auction until the totals rose to surprising levels. The red, well actually green carpet lined with members of the Jets’ flight crew welcomed Neil Glat, president of the Jets, head coach Todd Bowles, many players from Mangold to even Darron Lee. Also walking the green carpet was actor Justin Long.
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DJ Rob Swift kept the house music and energy up while the players signed and took photos with fans.
Each restaurant set up a table with a signature dish, served and hosted by a player and celebrity chef, giving football fans the best of both worlds with divine food and football.
A number of Jets participated in fighting hunger including Tommy Bohanon, Folk, Lorenzo Mauldin, Steve McLendon, Bryce Petty, Zach Sudfeld, Breno Giacomini, Dakota Dozier, Wes Johnson, Brent Qvale and Jesse Davis.
It was suggested that the players not discuss football and focus on what the night brought, which was rumored to be over $150K for the Jets Foundation to knock out hunger.
That said, I still managed to pull a few tasty thoughts out of the evening. Like why Mangold keeps coming back to serve himself up at the Taste:
“I’ve been doing this since 2006 and just love interacting with fans,” he said. “I always try to help raise money by donating, with me and my wife donating a dinner night with us at an exclusive New York restaurant (Rao’s). It’s about raising money for a cause.”
Which is the reason for the night, of course. But what about rounding out the menu? Like, isn’t there a certain quarterback who would go well with things?
“Yeah, of course we want Fitz back with us,” he admitted, before quickly adding “but we’re not here to take focus off a great cause. It’s about enjoying amazing food in an amazing venue.”
Now I had an opportunity to speak to Folk about the event, here’s what he had to say:
HG: What is it like kicking off 13th annual Taste of the Jets?
NF: I’ve been doing this since 2010, and I like what the Jets foundation is all about. Tonight’s focus is on kicking out hunger.
HG: We both have young kids, how do you feel about Jets and kids?
NF: I like the Play 60 program and the idea of trying to fight obesity. I feel like can make a difference here.
HG: I don’t want to take focus off the charity, but real quick, what was it like last year and watching another kicker in your spot when you were injured?
NF: Well, he (Bullock) was my teammate at that point, so I was rooting for him and did whatever I could to support him. At the same time, I took a step back because I didn’t want to be all over him, wanted to let him have his space. And he did a good job for us, too, I think his kicks won two games for us down the stretch. So it was good to see that happen, And I would never want the bad karma kickers always root for other kickers to succeed.”
The night ended with a rumored north of $7K auction of the fabled Mangold dinner and Lee completing his first official meet and greet appearance with fans! Justin Long held court with Sudfeld and Petty and sent more than a few fans home with a warm thought and a cool selfie, while just about all fans left with a number of fresh autographs, player selfies, some unique memories and their appetites satiated while the Foundation grew stronger.