I have talked before how there are a lot of new faces in the Jets parking lot during tailgating. There are also fewer recognizable faces from years past. Not only that I see, but others see less and less of their friends who did not get a PSL. As the Jets organization pressed hard for the PSL’s, many long time ticket holders felt pushed away by the organization. While others, felt they had no choice if they wanted to continue to see their team live. Everyone has a choice, no one can say they were pressured into buying a PSL. The pressure comes from yourself, and maybe some friends who already made their decision. Some do not do it for the game alone, but for the tailgating as well. It has become such a ritual for some, their warm up to the game itself.
The more I walk around during tailgating, the more I see friends and family partying like it was a major holiday. Everyone comes to the game with what they feel are the essentials. The necessary items to make their pregame ritual the best it can be. The long time Jet faithful feel that friends are the best for the games. Who better to share it with than those who you have followed the team with since the Polo Grounds or Shea Stadium. It is the continuing of these memories that makes the next one that much better. You can consider your memories your own personal NFL Films that many have viewed but only your friends will remember the way you do.
There are some necessities to tailgating. A grill, burgers, beer, chips, and a spot to have it all in. Some prefer to add a lot more to make it exciting for them and their friends. You can add a tent, a 10×10 canopy, or for the major league tailgater, a camper. One camper I walked around in cost the fan about $75,000 complete with Jets memorabilia, fridges, bed, flat screen, and everything else he feels is needed for a Jets tailgate. Some are towing grills/smokers behind their vehicles. Nothing says tailgating like burgers for 120 people. Now, one can have Lobel’s of NY and Weber grills prepare it all for them. Just sit back and fork over your cash.
Other people feel there are other necessities to tailgating. Some prefer to grill steaks, lobster, pork chops, crab legs, sausage, vodka chicken parmigiana, and other foods based on the Jets opponents. For the Patriots, some had New England clam chowder, seafood jambalaya, mussels, and a Tom Brady jersey over open coals. Now a couple of guys said a necessity was hot girls at a tailgate. When one is young and drunk, one will say anything. But everyone agreed you do need close and dear friends to make every tailgate that much better. Now one group forgot their propane, but they did not forget their friends. So it really does not matter how big of a set up you have or what you prepare, as long as you have friends around you to share in the festivities.
The Jet Pack, founded by Robert Parin in 1967, was all about fun with friends before the game. IN years past, they always had each tailgate a themed one. They would do a pig roast one game, seafood buffet another game, and other great themed tailgates. They were even responsible for the Spark Plug Award. At the final tailgate of each season, it would be given to who the fans thought the season’s MVP was. The last one was handed out in 2008. As the members of the Pack dwindled due to many not investing in a PSL, they stopped the award. Last Sunday, only a handful out of the 70-80 that had accumulated over the years of the Jet Pack were back. Robert and a few dedicated others only had two small grills going compared to mega set ups they had grown accustomed to. The prices kept many away. Now Robert and others sit farther away from where their seats had been previously.
It does not matter how much the Jets charge for PSL’s, tickets, parking, or overpriced food inside the stadium. Fans will always set up in the parking lot like nomads in the desert, looking for a place to rest, eat, and celebrate before moving on to their final destination. That is something the Jets can not take away from their fans, no matter how confusing or expensive they make their parking. I guess that is why I enjoy walking around and talking to everyone there. It is where Jets fans show their true self. Not just inside being led by Fireman Ed, but outside getting ready for the battle yet to be witnessed.
The Jets seem to have a separation between themselves and their fans. Many fans I talk to feel the Jets really do not listen to them or care about them. I guess that is why I listen to the fans so much and want to get their message across. Maybe if the Jets had people in the parking lot talking to fans rather than having employees paint peoples faces for $10 they could get more in tun with their fans. If anything, I would like my documentary to let teams know what they could do to come down to their fans level. To really let your fans know that you care about more than their checkbooks.