Jeremy Kerley, Alshon Jeffery Shine During Panini America Learning Express Events
While Alshon Jeffery, the Chicago Bears’ electricity-quick rookie receiver, was nursing a broken right hand, New York Jets second-year speedster Jeremy Kerley was fighting illness and a finger injury. But that didn’t stop either gamer from spending their Tuesday evenings off making special appearances at two Learning Express stores as part of Panini America’s huge 2012 NFL Sticker & Album Collection promotion.
The in-store visits (Jeffery at the Learning Express in Naperville, Ill., and Kerley at the Denville, N.J., location) were rewards for the loyal customers of those stores, two of the biggest sellers of Panini America’s 2012 NFL Sticker & Album Collection so far this season.
Jeffery sustained his injury while scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ 41-3 thrashing of Jacksonville on Sunday. Luckily for the throngs of Bears fans who showed up to meet Jeffery on Tuesday evening, Jeffery is left-handed — which means his autographing hand was in perfect working condition.
“I love getting out and meeting my fans,” Jeffery said. “Where I came from (St. Matthews, S.C.), we didn’t have any professional teams so I never got the chance to meet professional players when I was a kid. That’s why events like this one are special to me.”
Something else that would be special to Jeffery? Starring soon on the cover of Panini America’s NFL Sticker Album.
“It’s cool,” Jeffery said of the Sticker & Album concept. “I can see how kids are into this. I want to represent the Bears on the cover next year.”
Kerley, meanwhile, made his appearance less than 24 hours removed from the start of the Jets’ Monday night game against Houston, during which he recorded a career-high 94 yards receiving on five catches.
“It’s always good to come out and interact with fans who don’t necessarily get to see you because you have your helmet on,” Kerley said afterward. “So any time you get to come out and spend time with the fans, it’s a great thing. For the fans that show love, you just want to show that love back in some way.
“I had a great time. If I could do it all over again, I definitely would.”
Judging by the great scenes captured in the gallery below, the Learning Express customers who attended the events would, too.