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Ho-ho-hike! Jets’ Sam Darnold goes undercover as mall Santa

December 20, 2018
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) tries to avoid a sack from Houston Texans nose tackle Brandon Dunn during the first half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Here comes Sam-ta Claus!

New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold traded in his football pads and green and white jersey for some extra padding, a fake beard and a red white Santa outfit recently to surprise some unsuspecting kids at a New Jersey mall.

In a video posted by Bleacher Report on Wednesday night, Chris Simms and Adam Lefkoe, hosts of the “Simms & Lefkoe Show” hit the Livingston Mall — about 3½ miles from the Jets’ training facility — with a decked-out Darnold.

Darnold set up shop as Santa with Simms and Lefkoe dressed up as elves at a picture-taking area and put kids on his lap to hear their Christmas wishes. The 21-year-old disguised quarterback was asked to bring them everything from puppies to skateboards to toy guns.

One boy caused “Santa” to pause, though, when he asked for a Saquon Barkley jersey.

“A Saquon Barkley jersey?” Darnold asked the boy, almost dejectedly.

A few moments later, another boy asked for the jersey of the Giants’ rookie running back who was taken one pick ahead of Darnold at No. 2 overall in the draft.

“Saquon?” a disappointed Darnold asked him.

“Do watch football?” he asked another youngster. The boy said yes, and Darnold asked what team he roots for.

“The Packers,” the boy answered. Green Bay happens to be Darnold’s opponent Sunday.

Finally, another boy named Blake approached while wearing a Jets No. 14 Darnold jersey.

“That’s a really cool jersey you’ve got on there,” Darnold told him. “Who’s your favorite player on the Jets?”

The boy answered: “Sam Darnold or Jamal Adams.”

Darnold nodded his head and said, “I think maybe one day you’ll be able to meet one of those guys. Maybe next year, though.”

Darnold then threw a bunch of passes to the young kids before heading to the bathroom to change into his Jets jersey and a green and white Santa hat — while leaving on his red and white pants. Lefkoe then introduced Darnold as one of Santa’s friends: the Jets’ starting quarterback.

It left lots of the wide-eyed youngsters speechless before they ran over to Darnold to sack him with hugs and high-fives.

There was just one thing left for Darnold/Santa to do before heading back to the North Pole, err, the Jets’ team facility: leading the kids in a big “J-E-T-S” chant.

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