Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Jet Receiver Glad for Help at Holidays

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Jet Receiver Glad for Help at Holidays

Article excerpt

Being a highly paid NFL player has plenty of perks.

But here's one drawback: You cannot take vacation time during Christmas week. Nor is it easy to go to the mall for a last-minute gift after a full day of meetings and practice.

Sixth-year pro Eric Decker knows all about balancing football and Christmastime, which is something the Jets wide receiver has had to do once again this week as his team prepared to face AFC East rival New England in a game crucial to Gang Green's playoff chances.

"You learn as you go," Decker told The Record after practice Thursday in Florham Park. (The Jets had no media availability Christmas Day.)

"When we come to work, you've got to work," he said. "You try to switch it on and off as you go. It can be stressful when you've got to get presents and say thanks to people. That's why you've got a good support system."

In Decker's case, that support system is his wife, country singer Jessie James Decker.

"Thank God for her," he said. "She'll go out and get stuff for me if I need it, and just be a big help in taking some of the pressure and stress off of having to worry about getting [presents] yourself."

Decker also appreciated the Jets giving players some time Friday to celebrate. Players didn't have to report Friday until noon, enabling Decker to spend Christmas morning with his wife and their two children: 1-year-old Vivianne and 3-month-old Eric II.

It also makes it easier to report to work on Christmas Day when your team still is playing for something. Last season, Decker's first as a Jet, the team took a 3-12 record into its lone post- Christmas game: the season finale at Miami.

"I'll tell you what," he said, "it makes Christmas a lot more fun when you're winning and when you have an opportunity to advance to the [playoff] tournament."

Decker's play is one reason why the Jets still have postseason hopes. …

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