NEW YORK — Josh McCown has some big-time red, white and blue bragging rights on Demario Davis.
The New York Jets teammates put their pads aside and served as opposing coaches for an eight-on-eight flag football game featuring military service members — who were appropriately decked out in green and white jerseys — at Fort Hamilton Army Base in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
Final score: Team McCown 18, Team Davis 14.
“There’s no doubt that we won and we had every intention of winning and I’ll keep this in the books as 1-0 for my coaching career against Demario,” McCown said with a laugh during a telephone interview. “And I won’t let him live this down anytime soon in that locker room, I know that.”
The victory in the “Fort Hamilton Turkey Bowl” was sealed when a defender on McCown’s team knocked away a pass.
“It was a lot of fun, but, oh, man, I don’t like to lose,” Davis said by phone. “I’ve got to find a way to get him back.”
Staff Sgt. Michael Edwards earned MVP honors for the winning team by throwing for about 220 yards and three touchdowns, while also running for 30 yards. Sgt. 1st Class Danny Centeno was selected the MVP of Davis’ squad.
“We came out ready to dominate, full force,” Edwards said with a laugh. “Josh spoke with me before the game and he was like, ‘Hey, man, the key is to complete passes, be poised and be sure you’re scanning the field.’ To get that advice from a quarterback, I was like, ‘All right. Got it.’
“I knew he knew what he was talking about.”
The 34-year-old Edwards played football in high school in Miami, and appreciated the guidance of McCown, who gathered his squad between plays throughout the game — appearing comfortable in the role. It’s nothing new for McCown, either. Between NFL jobs in 2011, McCown coached the quarterbacks at Marvin Ridge High School in Waxhaw, North Carolina.
“They obviously have been playing together for a while, so it was fun to get out there and kind of give them little tips,” McCown said of Tuesday’s game. “To actually be able to talk football with them and strategy, that makes it even more fun for them and more real.”
The game was the latest collaboration between the Jets and the U.S. military, with service members from the Joint Task Force Empire Shield; the 1st Medical Detachment, Surgical; the NYC Recruiting Battalion, the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion and the 98th Regiment, among others who are stationed at the base playing in the game two days before Thanksgiving.
The Jets also donated customized green and white jerseys, NFL footballs and flag kits for the teams.
“It was fun and we had a blast hanging with the guys, but also, it’s inspiring to be out there with people who serve our country at the highest level and just afford us to have the freedom to go out there and play a game,” McCown said.
Davis said he jumped at the opportunity to participate because his father Steven is a 28-year Army veteran — and because of the tension swirling throughout the season regarding some NFL players not standing during the playing of the national anthem before games.
“It really meant a lot to me, personally,” Davis said. “Also with all that’s going on in the NFL with the controversy surrounding the ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ and stuff like that, I wanted to make it clear how much the military means to me.”
Last year, the Jets set up two football games on the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and another is planned between members of the 3rd Infantry Division and U.S. Air Force in Afghanistan later this week. The team also hosted a game on Veteran’s Day between USS Blue Ridge members and Forward Deployed Naval Forces on the U.S. Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan.
New York will also host several members of the military on Sunday for the Jets’ game against the Carolina Panthers as part of the NFL’s “Salute to Service.”
“The Jets have been huge supporters and not just of my battalion, but to the military at large,” said Lt. Col. Judd Floris, Commander of the New York City Recruiting Battalion. “It’s important to both parties. For the Jets, I think it’s important that they are able so clearly demonstrate that they understand what the service members are doing and what’s going on across the globe. Their ability to play games outside the United States is a great example, just to demonstrate that they support what the military is doing.”
After the game, McCown and Davis signed autographs and posed for photos with the players, and also took part in a postgame barbecue.
“It’s a pretty amazing thing to see,” Davis said. “I think celebrities and athletes get looked up to all the time, but these are the real heroes. These are the people who should be celebrated and the heroes in our country, who lay their lives on the line for us to have our freedom. We wouldn’t be able to live if it wasn’t for what they do.
“They may look up to us and celebrate us, but even more so, we look up to and celebrate them.”