NEW YORK (AP) Geno Smith honored a first responder on the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks as his special guest for the New York Jets' season opener.
The backup quarterback, as part of his 7 Sunday Heroes program, hosted Timothy Morley and his son Patrick last Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Morley, according to a release issued by Smith's representatives at Roc Nation Sports, was in lower Manhattan for an NYPD training seminar on Sept. 11, 2001, when the first of the twin towers was hit by a plane.
Morley rushed to join an emergency unit, but was buried under a fire truck when the North Tower collapsed. Morley spent two months in the hospital recovering from his injuries, but later returned to the World Trade Center site and served 12 more years with the NYPD. He retired in 2013 due to health issues.
With a pregame ceremony honoring the victims and first responders on the 15th anniversary of the attacks serving as an emotional backdrop, Morley was also treated to a special game-day experience with Smith.
''Things like this don't happen to me that often,'' Morley said in the statement. ''I was really surprised to find out that I was chosen to be a part of Geno's 7 Sunday Heroes program. I was just doing my job 15 years ago. Talking with Geno and taking time to reflect on that day has reminded me to count my blessings and to focus on being positive. My family and I enjoyed the game and meeting Geno. It made our day, and it's a memory we will have for the rest of our lives.''
Smith started the program last season in conjunction with Roc Nation Sports and the Jets' community relations department. For each home game, an inspirational person from Tuesday's Children and other organizations is chosen to receive two tickets, club passes, an autographed jersey and a postgame meet-and-greet with Smith.
''I am very fortunate to be able to continue the success of last year's 7 Sunday Heroes program by giving back to another seven inspirational individuals throughout this season,'' Smith said. ''Meeting the seven children heroes we hosted last year had a lasting impact on me, and I can't wait to get to know this year's group of heroes.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/AP-NFL