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      Green carpet rolled out for Jets

      Photo Credit: Caitlin Nuclo


      For fans in the Gang Green, the road to the Super Bowl starts right on Main Street in Cortland.

      Eric Grego drove 7 hours from Pittsburgh to chant just one thing. "Super Bowl, Super Bowl. And hundreds joined him, cheering along the downtown streets. The city hosted a touch down party to celebrate the team finally touching down in Central New York.

      "We're die hard jets fans and we're here to root them on and welcome them here to Cortland, said Bill Epthimiatus.

      "Cortland is a good community, fresh air up here. The City of Cortland always welcomes us, said Jets Linebacker David Harris.

      It's not everyday that you see a national football team come through town, said Steven Ratliff.

      And it's not every day that the newest draft picks sign your hat. Jets fan Kevin Cute nabbed a bunch of signatures Sunday to add to his growing collection of memorabilia. "I bleed green and they're going all the way this year, he said.

      And as many fans are quick to remind people, the team almost made it all the way last year. Their successful season is one of the reasons they came back to SUNY Cortland. "It TMs really a huge factor in why we had the success we had last year. We really came together as a team, starting here in Cortland, said Head Coach Rex Ryan.

      "It's quiet, you might here some crickets, that'll be a welcomed addition, said Jets Offensive Lineman Damien Woody. It's a good time to just be around the guys. Not much to do around here, but that's okay." And that TMs part of the point. Coaches and players say training on the SUNY gridiron, is an escape from distraction, allowing them to focus on football.

      "This is the start, this is the building block, said Jets Running Back Shonn Greene. We're looking forward to all the fans supporting us through the training camp."

      Having the boys back in town (but not everyone is back) is a win for the city too. Last summer, the 34,000 fans that visited training camp left a $4 million impact on the local economy.

      An even bigger crowd is expected this year. You TMll also spot HBO cameras filming the training camp documentary called Hard Knocks.

      The Jets will put on the pads and start practicing bright and early Monday morning. Click here for a schedule. While the fans will be along the sidelines, practicing what they do best. J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS.

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      There is just one chant echoing through Cortland, J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!

      You could certainly feel the excitement in downtown Cortland today as the Jets finally arrived in town. Escorted by police, the NFL team rolled down Main Street, right in the middle of the touchdown party. They were greeted with cheering fans who pounded on their passing buses and reached for high fives from rookie players who joined Head Coach Rex Ryan on stage to hype up the crowd. We TMre going to try to bring it home to our fans, and win that Super Bowl. And we TMre going to start with that tonight, said Ryan.

      Die-hard fan Eric Grego drove 7 hours to Central New York to root for his team with hundreds of fellow fans, and soon-to-be friends. We're ready to kick this off. I love it here, green and white, that's the only way to be, he said.

      The Jets won't be the only visitors in town this year. HBO cameras will document training camp for the show Hard Knocks, which will put Cortland in the national spotlight. Now the country gets to see how special this place really is, said Rex Ryan.

      Last year, more than 30-thousand gang green fans caught a glimpse of the players practicing at SUNY Cortland, and they left behind a lot of green. The local economy was hit with a $4-million boost.

      This year, an even bigger crowd is expected. This town deserves and needs that. It's definitely something that we're all looking forward to, said Steven Ratliff.

      Tomorrow, pads go on for the first time and fans are ready to see the players hit the gridiron. For a practice schedule, click here.