METAIRIE, La. — Nick Toon remembers walking around the field of the old Meadowlands stadium nearly 21 years ago, following his father Al on the sidelines.
On Sunday, when Toon’s Saints play the Jets, he’ll return once again to East Rutherford, N.J.
But there won’t be any conflicting feelings.
“I was a Jets fan growing up and it’ll be fun to go out there and play against them,” Toon said. “Naturally if your dad plays for a team, you’re going to root for them. I’m happy to be down here in New Orleans. I can’t ask for a better situation for a receiver.”
Toon has yet to make a big impact on any game statistically, catching only three passes for 60 yards. He has been inactive twice in New Orleans’ first seven games.
He’s not worried, however, about what he has and hasn’t done. He learned that from his father.
“It’s all about having fun,” Nick Toon said his father told him. “I love the game of football and going out there and competing and entertaining the fans. That’s really what’s it’s all about, just going out there and having fun.
“So many kids dream of having the opportunity to play a professional sport for a living, we’re all grateful to still have the opportunity to participate in this profession.”
Toon’s father spent eight seasons with the New York Jets, catching 517 passes for 6,685 yards and 31 touchdowns. The 1986 season, his second in the NFL, was his best as he finished with 85 catches for 1,176 yards and eight touchdowns.
He earned Pro Bowl berths in 1986, ’87 and ’88 and was a first-team All-Pro in 1986.
Two days after Nick was born in 1988, Al finished with 13 catches for 106 yards. The number of receptions was the second-most in his career.
Now, a day before his 25th birthday, the younger Toon will go up against his father’s old team, the one he grew up cheering for as a child.
“I think it’s a little surreal for my dad to watch me go out and play against a team that he played for,” Nick Toon said. “Definitely surreal for me as well.”
And if he doesn’t have that big game, no big deal.
“The ultimate goal is to win and if it’s me that has a big game and helps us win, that’s awesome,” Toon said. “As long as I’m doing everything I can do to help my team get the W, that’s all that matters.”