FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - The media crowd around Sam Darnold ran three deep, and it was so big that he had to take questions in two separate waves. He was grilled on everything from whether he'll start the season opener to whether he can bring a Super Bowl championship to the franchise.
And he hadn't even put on his Jets uniform for the first time yet.
But that's what faces Darnold in his new life as the Jets' long-awaited Quarterback of the Future, where the expectations are simply Super Bowl or bust. He's been aware of that from the moment he was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL draft last week, that his whole reason for being here is to end the Jets' long Super Bowl drought.
And even before he took the field for his first practice with the Jets at the start of their rookie camp on Friday, he promised it's a challenge he is very eager to face.
"Yeah, I embrace it," Darnold said. "But I understand every single day that it's a process. I've got to come in here and earn respect. I'm not going to come in here and demand it. I'll come in here understanding the position that I'm in. I'm a rookie. I understand that. But at the same time I'm a quarterback and I've got to be a leader on the field and off it as well."
He said and seemingly did all the right things on Day 1, which began with a 6:45 a.m. bus ride over to the Jets' practice facility from his hotel. He arrived on Thursday night where he got to know some of his new teammates and did some group studying of the brand new playbook. On Friday, he had some medical checks and other business to take care of before he finally hit the field.
He was really looking forward to that part of it, he said. "I think (it will be) more relief than anything, just because I haven't been with a team, I haven't been inside the pocket for a long time," he said. "It's pretty cool to have that feeling."
As for the feeling of the eyes of a city and fan base watching his every move? Darnold seemed relatively comfortable with that, too.
"I'm just going to come in here and do my thing," he said. "Learn as much as I can from guys like Josh (McCown) and Teddy (Bridgewater), and just go about it that way. I've been in a position where I was younger and learned from older guys. That's what it's going to be what it is here. At the same time I'm going to make the most of every single opportunity I get in practice and in the film room just being able to learn as much as I can and being very confident on the practice field."