High School and College Career:
Chrebet played wide receiver in high school football at Garfield High School in his hometown.
Chrebet played for Hofstra University, the site of what used to be the Jets’ year-round training facility. At Hofstra, Chrebet was a four-year letter-winner who twice led the Flying Dutchmen (now known as The Pride), in receiving. In addition he set the single season and career touchdown marks with 16 (1994), and 31, respectively. Also in 1994, Chrebet became Hofstra’s first 1,000-yard receiver. Along the way he set a Hofstra school record with 245 receiving yards in a game against Delaware, and tying Jerry Rice for the NCAA I-AA mark with five touchdowns.
For his accomplishments at Hofstra University, Wayne Chrebet was part of the inaugural class to be inducted into the Hofstra University Athletic Hall of Fame and his jersey was retired.
Chrebet was not drafted by any team at the National Football League Draft in 1995. Chrebet eventually earned a walk-on opportunity with the New York Jets where he was 11th of 11 on the depth chart. Chrebet was stopped and detained at the front gate on his first day of training camp by the senior New York Jets security guard who did not believe Chrebet could actually be a football player due to his relatively small size. A New York Jets team official was summoned to verify he was an authorized walk-on and could enter the training complex. Chrebet worked his way up the depth chart from 11th to make the team and was the first Hofstra football player to make an NFL roster since John Schmitt in 1964.
In a December 3, 1995 game versus the St. Louis Rams, Chrebet pulled in 8 receptions and broke several tackles on a scramble toward the goal line. On October 19, 1996 at Jacksonville, Chrebet hauled in 12 receptions for 162 yards with five third-down conversions. On September 24, 2000, after former Jets teammate Keyshawn Johnson claimed that comparing Chrebet to him was like “comparing a flashlight to a star,” Chrebet caught an 18-yard TD pass from Curtis Martin with 52 seconds left to give the Jets a 21-17 victory against Johnson’s team at the time (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). After this, the New York media dubbed Chrebet “The Green Lantern.” His primary nickname, however, was “Mr. Third Down” because 379 of his 580 career receptions were third to first down conversions. Wayne Chrebet become a sensation secondary to his achievement and was featured on cereal boxes in addition to having his #80 jersey was worn by the lead character Michael in the 2003 Will Ferrell motion picture Elf.
Some consider Chrebet’s best overall game as the October 10th, 2004 contest with the Buffalo Bills in which Chrebet enjoyed a perfect game, catching all 8 passes sent his way from quarterback Chad Pennington in a 16-14 victory. Chrebet’s career history was named one of the greatest rags-to-riches stories in the history of professional sports by Sports Illustrated later that year.
In a November 6, 2005 game against the San Diego Chargers, Chrebet’s career ended prematurely when he sustained a serious concussion on a clean play. Despite being knocked unconscious for several minutes, Chrebet still made that third-down catch for a first down, symbolic of the type of plays he made throughout his career. Chrebet’s 580 receptions ranks him 2nd and his 7,365 yards from scrimmage place him 5th all-time in the New York Jets record books.
Chrebet wore the New York Jet number 80 jersey for 11 straight seasons. During his career, he caught passes from 13 different players, played for several different head coaches, and worked for two different owners. Chrebet was formally honored by the New York Jets on “Wayne Chrebet Day” during halftime of the September 23rd, 2007 game against the Miami Dolphins.Chrebet’s number 80 has not been issued by the team since he retired, and it is generally understood that no Jet will wear that number in the foreseeable future.
After the NFL:
Chrebet now resides in Colts Neck Township, New Jersey. Chrebet has operated two restaurants on Long Island near his alma mater, Hofstra University. Initially a steakhouse called Chrebet’s, it was later closed and reopened as a sports-themed bar/restaurant called “Social Sports Lounge and Kitchen”
In a 2007 interview with the Bergen Record, Chrebet stated he still feels post-concussion symptoms as a result of the multiple concussions he suffered while playing in the NFL, including headaches, lethargy, and sensitivity to light and noise.
The NFL Network recognized Wayne Chrebet’s career in 2009 by including Chrebet in their Top 10 episode “Best Undrafted Players” at the number ten position.
Chrebet served as the “FCS Championship Game Ambassador” for the 2009 FCS Championship Game between Villanova and Montana.
On May 28, 2009 Chrebet joined Morgan Stanley as a financial advisor working out of the Red Bank, New Jersey office. In Fall 2012, Chrebet joined Barclays Capital as a financial advisor and Assistant Vice President working out of the Park Ave, New York City office.
Chrebet is routinely invited to attend Jets games as a guest of honor by owner Woody Johnson and also routinely serves as an ambassador on behalf of the New York Jets and National Football League via community service and public relations events.