Jets’ Jersey boys remember 9/11

Muhammad Wilkerson.

It was eighth grade math class and Muhammad Wilkerson remembers that Tuesday morning 10 years ago all too well. It was a typical class for Wilkerson until an announcement was made over the loudspeakers.

Wilkerson was learning for the first time about the terrorist attacks taking place on that day, Sept. 11.

His hometown in Union County, N.J. is located 20 odd miles from the site where the World Trade Center towers used to stand and Wilkerson remembers sitting at his desk, watching on television as the devastation unfolded. Three members of the Jets lived in New Jersey at that time and Wilkerson was the closest of them all. He didn’t lose any family or friends on that day, but the senselessness of it all is still something the defensive end can’t wrap his arms around.

“Just being here, near New York, I mean, Jersey is close, it just really sort of shook you,” Wilkerson told Metro. “It was really disturbing news. It didn’t make sense then; it doesn’t make any more sense now to tell you the truth.”

Wilkerson sat in school, watching the events unfold. On the cusp of being a teenager, it didn’t make sense what he was seeing and like the rest of the nation, he wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. Parents were rushing to school to pick up classmates as everyone cautiously waited to see what was the next piece of news to break.

Later that night, Wilkerson drew strength from his parents after the confusion of the day.

“My parents were talking to me, telling me to have faith, to keep my faith central and strong,” Wilkerson said. “It saddened me that day, to see so many people go to work and lose their lives, to see all the devastation.”

To the south, one of Wilkerson’s future teammates was going through similar emotions.

In Camden County, in the tiny town of Sicklerville, N.J., Shonn Greene was then a sophomore in high school as he too watched the aftermath of the attacks from school. Teachers rolled televisions to the front of the classroom for the students to watch and Greene sat there, transfixed as smoke poured from buildings and eventually, he saw the Twin Towers fall.

Greene remembers the thoughts and his emotions of fear to this day. Being in South Jersey, he didn’t know much about the Twin Towers at the time, but was still shocked at what he was watching.

“I didn’t understand it, why people would do that to other people but as I watched, I learned more about it,” Greene said. “It was sad to see so many people die there that day and it is something I still just can’t fully understand.”

It is a somber mood that translates to the rest of the team as the team works its way towards Sunday’s home opener against the Cowboys, played on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Last week, the Jets visited Ground Zero following an event in New York City, and the players had the chance to absorb the site and the monumental loss of life.

“It was special, because I think for a guy like me who was on the West Coast at the time, I really didn’t get a chance to see it up close. When you go there, there’s a certain aura that you have when you stand there and you just imagine that day and just the chaos and everything that so many families and people went through,” running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. “It just gave you that feeling that you’re special. You’re lucky to be standing on that spot but at the same time you’re special because you get a chance to do something that a lot of people don’t get to do. But it’s very humbling at the same time.”

Tomlinson’s remarks echo a similar sentiment to what his teammates have been saying, but Sunday means a bit more for the Jersey boys on the Jets.

After all, in the days and weeks following the attacks, the region was transfixed by the search and recovery efforts at Ground Zero. Headlines every day provided updated death tolls and stories of lives found and those lost. Wilkerson said his aunt, who works in New York City, lost friends in the terrorist attack.

Much like his head coach, who on Monday said the significance of the game “is stronger than any game I’ve ever felt,” Wilkerson will play with some extra motivation on Sunday night.

“For me, I just want to go out there and play – play as if I was playing for all the people who lost loved ones that day,” Wilkerson said. “That’s how I want to play.”


Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter
@KristianRDyer.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…