Last night the Jets opened up their 2011 season with a win over the Dallas Cowboys. In typical fashion, they come back from losing to pull it out for a W in the win column. For some odd reason, they seem to play better when the game are close. Knowing they are close to losing seems to light a fire under them that should have been there before the game.
Maybe the fire was lit before the game. Since last week. When they went to Ground Zero, surprise the workers and other staff to see the site firsthand. Sometimes one gets the biggest motivation from a bigger tragedy. Playing for a city, families, and those who were lost can definitely motivate anyone to perform at their best.
Besides the game and the memorial before the game, fans showed respect their own way. Flying American flags, wearing 9/11 remembrance gear, wearing anything to represent those social services who responded that fateful day, flying other flags, and anything else they could do to show their patriotism on a day remembered by all. Many songs blared from Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The USA” to “Empire State Of Mind” by Jay Z. No matter where you went, fans showed pride in their own way.
Last year, many found their new places to set up camp. I would go back to each section from game to game and they would be there every time. This year, not the same story. Some did not bother to come back. I was informed by some that other did not opt to come back this season. They either sold their tickets or are having friends or family continue payments of their PSL. The reason, the lockout left a bad taste for some. For others, not having those who attended games with them in the past was not worth it. Tailgating group The Jet Pack who had been going strong since 1968, with over 150 season ticket holders is now down to four.
I did find several Jets faithful I have been to before. The L7 crew who were founded on Twitter. Frank “The Flagman” Conway. Dave and the L5 group who party from before the game until after the game. Caesar and what is left of the Jet Pack. Not too many else this game. I was more concerned about getting peoples memories, stories, feelings about 9/11. Where they were 10 years ago and their experience as well as how they felt now. Everyone has their own story but they are have the same nucleus. The documentary seemed to fall second.
I talked to regular civilians as well as military personnel. Some were willing to talk openly and freely about heir experience and memories. Others, not as much. Certain New Jersey State Troopers, US Military, and NY Firefighters did not want to share anything on camera. To them, it is a painful memory they do not want to reflect back on or share. Like soldiers coming back from war, it is too painful to talk about. Just something to remain in the archives of their memories.
As I wandered the lots seeking stories to be heard, many seemed to have interest in those who talked. They would gather and listen in, even if they did not know the person. People thought what I was doing was a great idea and appreciated me taking the time to film them giving their story. After I talked to those in the military I thanked each one of them individually. After all, they all deserve our thank you. Many thanked them by feeding them at their tailgate, opening up their grills and providing whatever they could.
The stories I filmed speak for themselves. There is no summary I could write that would do them justice. No article could ever capture the emotion of words spoken directly from voices of those telling them. Sometimes I think I was not supposed to be at the game yesterday to continue with my documentary. On a day where many voices were silenced, I was supposed to give some voices a chance to be heard.
The 2011 Jets home opener will remain with many. Not just because the Jets and Cowboys gridiron battle, because we all came together for another reason. A reason bigger than football and ourselves. To remember and pay tribute to those fallen and those who still fight for our freedom. A day where many “J E T S JETS JETS JETS” chants were replaced by “USA”.
I would like to talk more about the tailgating, the long lines to get into the parking, and much more. That would just take away from the day it really was. A day of remembrance. I hope you take the words you are about to listen to to heart. Keep them with you as you would any special you watched this past weekend. As the Jets fought to secure their first win, we remember those who fought to save the lives of others on 9/11 & to those whose lives were extinguished.