New superhero for New Yorkers

Posted: Wednesday, October 04, 2000

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The Green Lantern had arrived, complete with T-shirt, ring and special powers. Or was that just New York Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet playing the part of superhero?

One week after his winning catch against Tampa Bay, Chrebet still was getting a kick out of his new nickname. A fan on Chrebet's Internet site suggested the monicker after Chrebet outshined his nemesis, Keyshawn Johnson, in the Bucs game.

Johnson's pregame declaration that comparing himself to Chrebet was like matching a star to a flashlight made for some great copy. When the Green Lantern, uh, Chrebet, outperformed the evil Dr. K, uh, Johnson, it inspired further headlines -- and, perhaps, a new persona for the quietly efficient receiver.

On Monday, the team's first day back from its bye week, Chrebet entered the locker room wearing a Green Lantern T-shirt, sporting a plastic green ring and flashing a huge smile.

''I was on 'Inside the NFL,' and the guys at HBO gave it to me,'' Chrebet said with a mischievous look. ''They told me they had this stuff and I said to send it to me, that I will wear it. Vinny (Testaverde) heard it and started calling me it and then Al Groh started. I think it's hysterical.''

Then he held up the ring and said forebodingly, ''This is very dangerous if put in the wrong hands.''

The Green Lantern was a 1940s comic strip and radio hero who got much of his special powers from his ring. Chrebet is only 27, far too young to remember the character that was sketched by Gil Kane, who also drew Spiderman, Captain Marvel and Hulk.

But he didn't care. He was having too much fun portraying the modern day hero of Jets fans, who still are gloating about Chrebet's catch and Johnson's near shutout (one catch for a yard).

''I'm the Green Lantern and your words can't faze me,'' Chrebet said.

''I've never seen it, but people told me it's an average, normal man who turns into a superhero, and I like that,'' added the former undrafted free agent from Hofstra, where the Jets train.

Chrebet was invited to the 1995 training camp as a courtesy often extended by the Jets to a Hofstra player. All he did was make the team, then lead it in receiving.

Now in his sixth season, he is an established star in New York and a force on the field as one of the league's better possession receivers.

Asked if he could relate to being an everyday player who elevates to superstardom, Chrebet said, ''Not yet.'' As for marketing himself as the Green Lantern: ''That's not me.''

''It's just funny and I'm living it up.''

At that, he was confronted by center Kevin Mawae, who asked to touch the ring. Mawae claimed he needed some of the Green Lantern's special powers, and after rubbing it, he slapped hands with Chrebet and walked away guffawing.

Several other players asked Chrebet if he should be the Green Hornet, another superhero, rather than the Green Lantern. But he said the ''Inside the NFL'' crew claimed it was the Green Lantern image that ''explained exactly what I represent.''

''I'm still a Superman fan,'' said Chrebet, who has been seen during training camps sporting a T-shirt with a big S on it. ''I don't want to get in a fight with that guy, but if I do, I do have the ring.''

Mawae returned, seeking a shirt of his own, but was rebuffed.

''They're so jealous,'' said New York's latest superhero, who then put the ring on his finger. ''I think I'll wear this for practice and see how it works.''

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