Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel: Meet the Jersey Patriots

She is the untold story behind New Jersey’s newest professional sports team, the N.J. Patriots. The story begins long before the goal posts, across the Hudson River in Burlington City, New Jersey. Local businessman,…

Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel: Meet the Jersey Patriots

She is the untold story behind New Jersey’s newest professional sports team, the N.J. Patriots. The story begins long before the goal posts, across the Hudson River in Burlington City, New Jersey. Local businessman, Jerome Armstrong, began to build his dream in 1993. By April 1998, his dream was realized and he named his team the New Jersey Patriots.

There are a handful of minor league sports teams that can be considered Legends. The Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia 76ers, and the New York Mets would all fall under that category. The Boston Red Sox were Legends, too, but they didn’t have a team that could be called an “original” Legends team.

Jerome Armstrong is one of those legends in his own right. He’s a man that had the vision to create a New Jersey franchise in a very capitalistic arena. He saw the energy that his town’s place-name could carry and wanted his place-name to also carry success on the field.

Though it took nearly 25 years to get to today, Armstrong has finally found success with his team in Burlington City. Despite having players from multiple countries and cultures, the New Jersey Patriots are a family-run organization, is tightly knit, and likes to play hard-nosed and physical ball. Fans often say that they’re proud of that mentality, but don’t always realize the importance of the family aspect behind their favorite teams.

In the beginning, Armstrong was driving to games by himself in his 1999 Dodge Dakota pickup truck to kick around a football with members of the youth football program. They would ride in the back, and watch games from the stands, realizing that this was what they wanted to do with their lives. In 2008, they connected with a professional agent who played in the minor leagues. They moved back to Burlington City to begin training and began to build their roster.

In 2012, the first New Jersey Patriots regular season game drew over 5,000 fans. A couple months later, the team had a season sellout of 4,700 and in 2015, 3,900 tickets were sold for their season opener. In March 2016, they were recognized as one of the top five attendance increases in the league for the entire year.

They’ve seen their own personal successes as well. New Jersey Patriot’s quarterback Kyle Lauletta earned Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the week honors in 2015 and the following year he earned ACC rookie of the month honors. Wide receiver Chris Godwin made a name for himself through his performance in the first couple games of 2016, and has caught 23 passes for 396 yards and two touchdowns over the last two years.

All of these milestones, and success as a fan favorite, are attributable to the Bobby and Jacqueline Armstrong’s and their eight children -12-year-old daughter Reece, 9-year-old son Alec, 7-year-old daughter Molly, 6-year-old son Bo, and 6-year-old son Chance. A look at the list of notables in their family, and you’ll see where their success can be attributed to. They’re all some of the best young men in the country and they all have the desire to represent their town, and state, in the right way.

This wouldn’t be possible without the faith and prayers of their parents and the deep commitments they have made to their adopted communities. So no matter what happens over the course of the upcoming season, the Armstrongs’ commitment to driving their kids to work hard, being committed to their families, and to all of the good that their influence has been able to do for the town of Burlington City, and for the league, the odds are their story will continue to become a part of the story of minor league football’s ‘Legends.’

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