By the time the family had landed back in Chicago, their trash had become someone else's treasure, with photos of the discarded big heads popping up on Twitter.
"Honestly, it hasn't really kicked in," Jordan said of the attention more than a year later, calling it "surreal."
Jordan was introduced to the weight room by his father when he reached high school. His father still hits the gym daily. Jim Jr., 25, has aspirations of opening his own gym one day.
The family's only brush with Manhattan came during NIU's trip to Army last year, when Jim was psyched to check out the renowned Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym in Syosset, about 90 minutes from West Point. Weekend traffic ruined those plans, but the family's competitive itch remains evident through everyday life.
As a high school freshman, a 155-pound Jordan would regularly disturb his mother's sleeping patterns, heading to the kitchen -- right outside his parents' room -- at 2 or 3 a.m. to munch on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. A diet that initially consisted of mostly chicken breasts and protein shakes has evolved in recent years to include sushi and salmon. He gets plenty of mileage out of his George Foreman grill every summer. Chipotle trips are a must whenever he is home.
If he has a sweet tooth, his family has never noticed it. He recently ordered a Sprite while out at dinner, which was enough to draw funny looks from his family.
"When he goes out to eat, I don't know how he affords to feed himself sometimes, because he don't just get one thing, he's gotta get two," Jim said, adding that Jordan will be hungry again not even two hours later.
Both Jims marveled recently at Jordan, home for Thanksgiving following a Tuesday night game, going to the gym to get a run in despite heavy limping from that week's game against Western Michigan.
"He's got a very boring life, trust me," his father quipped. "It's football, eating and working out."
The first: He never played quarterback until high school, when Lenti, the 30-year veteran coach at Mount Carmel, sensed that the speedster could be an ideal fit to run his famed triple-option offense.
"Freshman year you could see that he was developing some leadership skills, so we brought him to the varsity as a sophomore, which gave him a lot more reps at the higher rate of speed of which the game was played," Lenti said. "And then he was prepared and ready to go as a junior. That put him in position to be a two-year starter for us. And for many of our quarterbacks over the years, that's kind of been the process, that they come to the varsity as backups as a sophomore, then become starters as juniors and seniors."
Plenty of comparisons have been drawn to another Mount Carmel product who drew zero Big Ten offers before carving his way to a fifth-place finish in the Heisman voting.
"Frank said, 'This kid is the best kid I've had since Donovan McNabb,'" Kill said. "And I mean, when you say that, Donovan McNabb's pretty damn good. Frank's just an honest guy, so when he tells you something you better listen, and I was fortunate that I listened."