Darnold-McCown connection filled with family, hugs and Snapchats

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During a quiet moment recently in the New York Jets’ quarterback room, Josh McCown pulled out his tablet and punched up a video of his son’s first football game of the season. As dad watched with a critical eye, he was joined by Sam Darnold, who pulled up a chair and watched every snap of Owen McCown, the junior varsity quarterback at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Josh McCown took notes and texted them to his son, occasionally including tips from Darnold. As McCown said, “If Sam says it, sometimes it carries a little more weight than Dad.” The middle man — in this case, the old man — was eliminated from the convo when Darnold, 21, and Owen, 15, started communicating directly.

“Snapchatting,” McCown, 39, said, shrugging his shoulders. “It’s what the kids do.”

It was a priceless scene: father, son and surrogate son — or little brother, depending on how you view that 18-year gap between Josh McCown and Darnold.8

Quite clearly, their relationship — only five months old — goes way beyond starting quarterback-backup quarterback and pupil-mentor. It’s beginning to extend beyond the office, with their two families joining what could be the most fascinating and feel-good quarterback situation in the NFL.

The vibe was apparent after the Jets’ dominant victory Monday night in Detroit. When Darnold emerged from the locker room after his impressive debut, he was embraced immediately by his parents, Chris and Mike, who had flown in from San Clemente, California.

McCown grew up in a football family. His older brother, Randy, played quarterback at Texas A&M in the late 1990s. His younger brother, Luke, played the position in the NFL from 2004 to 2015. Pat and Robin raised quarterbacks, and they’ve been zigzagging the country for nearly a quarter-century, attending as many of their sons’ games as possible. In fact, they will be at MetLife Stadium on Sunday for the Jets’ home opener against the Miami Dolphins.

So will the Darnolds, who are accumulating frequent-flyer miles at an impressive clip. They’re not the jet-setting type; they’re middle-class folks from Orange County, California. Mike works as a foreman at a gas company, installing gas lines in hospitals and medical centers. He’s out of the house by 5:30 every morning.