The Jets Invite Robert Cozzarelli to The NFL Draft
Robert Cozzarelli was among a group of super fans selected by the Jets to be an ambassador at the draft. He was joined by his son, Bob Cozzarelli Jr.,
Robert was interviewed by NJ.com about the event. Below a reprint of the article.
Meet the N.J. Jets fan who sat in Roger Goodell’s comfy chair and hugged Zach Wilson at the NFL Draft
Updated May 01, 2021; Posted May 01, 2021
When Bob Cozzarelli woke up in Cleveland on Thursday morning, he didn’t expect to be center stage at the NFL Draft, sitting in commissioner Roger Goodell’s infamous easy chair. He certainly didn’t expect to hug Goodell and Zach Wilson — becoming the first fan to speak to the BYU quarterback after he was selected by the Jets as the No. 2 overall pick. Cozzarelli, a Belleville, N.J., resident and 2020 inductee in the Jets Fans Hall of Fame, was among a group of super fans selected by the franchise to be ambassadors at the draft. He was joined by his son, Bob Cozzarelli Jr., who began attending Jets games with his father at the age of 4. “It was an incredible experience,” Cozzarelli said. “I am 65 years old and I felt like a young kid again.” Each time a team selected a first-round pick, a fully-vaccinated fan was escorted to Goodell’s chair, which Cozzarelli said engulfed him once he sat down. He began to wonder how he would be able to get out of it once the next team was on the clock. “That chair was well-broken in, let me tell you,” he said, laughing. Cozzarelli was the first person to read the card with Wilson’s name placed in Goodell’s hands before the announcement of the Jets No. 2 overall pick. The commissioner then asked for his thoughts on the selection. “I looked at him and said: ‘Commissioner, this is the real deal. Go for it. The Jets love this pick,’” Cozzarelli said. “He is laughing, like I really had a say in it. It was so surreal.” Before leaving the stage, Cozzarelli introduced himself to Wilson: “The Jets love you,” he said. “You have no idea. They love you. Are you ready?” “I am so ready,” Wilson said.
Bob Jr., 31, leaped with excitement as he watched his father greet the new franchise quarterback. Meanwhile, his phone was flooded with text messages and Facebook notifications of friends and family sending him television screenshots of his father’s big moment. “When my dad pointed over to our section and Zach starts waving to us, we were just going crazy,” Bob Jr. said. “Going in, this draft is such a turning point for the whole franchise and we were going to be there for this enormous moment. Then to find out my dad is going to be sitting up on stage, I’m like, ‘How much more can you elevate this?’” As soon as Cozzarelli arrived back home in New Jersey on Friday night, he watched the Jets pick Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Morris at No. 34 in the second round. “We have a lot of hope for our coach and the (general manager). This is the GM’s time to shine. This is it. And he looks like he is doing a fantastic job so far,” Cozzarelli said. Cozzarelli’s love affair with the franchise began as an adolescent in the late 1960s during the Joe Namath era. He has been a season ticket holder since 1988 and hasn’t missed a home game since, he said. And in the past two decades, Bob Jr. has been by his side. “I always told my son: “We show up,’” he said. “That is what we do as fans. We show up and we cheer and we stay until the end of the game. That is what we do.” Bob Jr. fondly remembers attending games as a young child and being tossed into the air whenever the Jets scored a touchdown. It’s an early memory of what has become a special relationship with his father. “People have said to me: ‘Well, they haven’t won. Why do you always root for them?’ It is because it has become such a part of our life that you can’t give up on them. That would be the wrong thing to do,” the elder Cozzarelli said. “It is so easy to go root for a winning franchise. Oh, you’ve won four Super Bowls. So what? We’ve got one, and we’ve got so many beautiful stories of all the games that we have been to. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. We would do it all over. This is our team.” Thank you for relying on us to provide the journalism you can trust. Please consider supporting NJ.com with a subscription. Joey Chandler may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tip here.