Jets Fans Pay Tribute to 9/11 Before Home Opener

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

Jets Visit Ground Zero, 9/11 Opener Means More To All

In less than ten days the New York Jets will have their season and home opener in the newly named MetLife Stadium.  Rex Ryan is primed and ready to make another run towards the playoffs and the Jets first Super Bowl appearance in more than 40 years.

On a day where the team and its fans should be screaming from the roof tops may see it just a little quieter that Sunday.  Where some will be shouting with joy, others will be a little more somber for remembrance on the tenth anniversary of the September 11th tragedy.

The New York Jets took a visit to the World Trade Center site yesterday, showing their respect to the site and appreciation to the workers that are rebuilding the hallowed ground.  They visited the site after their annual luncheon at Ciprini on Wall Street to get a first-hand look at the rebuilding of a site where many lost their lives.

All players, coaches and front office visited the site, where they surprised workers during lunch.  A trip like this for the Jets should give enough motivation and fill them with pride that they will represent New York on September 11th.

“It was a great morale boost for the thousands of construction workers that are there around the clock and our police officers and security workers,” PA spokeswoman Jamie Loftus said.

Dustin Keller was quoted as saying “Everyone was just kinda in awe”.

Asked why the Jets took the team to Ground Zero, Keller said: “9/11 is a huge part of the history of New York City. We’re the New York Jets, and we should know our history.”  Several of Keller’s teammates Tweeted their experience after the visit on Twitter.

“It was really cool just to see — obviously, it’s been a while since 9/11 — the towers get back up,” tight end Dustin Keller said. “It’s hard to explain — so many people here lost family members or friends, or knew somebody. It’s kinda touching when you think about it, all the lives lost, and to get the building back up there … it’s awesome.

“Very humbling experience,” tweeted cornerback Antonio Cromartie. “Just walked out to see Ground Zero. A really heart felt experience God Bless everyone.”  Many of the Tweets reflected heart felt emotions by the team.

It shows how powerful a took Twitter can be.  Where one can express deep heart felt emotion and convey it instantly to thousands to feel for themselves.  The teams emotions could be felt not just by those who read their tweets, but to the workers and other staff on site.

“When you think about the fact that 3,000 people got up that morning and all they wanted to do was go to work — they weren’t doing anything reckless, they weren’t taking any chances — they just wanted to go to work and they lost their lives. When you think about that, it’s hard not be moved,” Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum said.

The quotes above come courtesy of Brian Costello & Steve Serby’s article in the NY Post.  The full article has more from the Jets and their visit to Ground Zero.  Reading it may me wish I was there to experience it with them.  I have seen the site before so I can understand their emotion in seeing it for the first time.

Sometimes the grimmest of tragedies and experiences make us hold our heads higher for the future.  Perhaps it is good that the Jets will be home on Sunday, September 11th.  After visiting the site, the workers, looking at photographs, and soaking it all into their hearts, perhaps they will play with a confidence and emotion they need to start the season.

The team must take pride in knowing they play for New York & New Jersey.  They represent fans of New York and New Jersey.  They represent those who not just bled green and white, but gave it all on that fateful day.  To the fans in memory who watch from above and have the best seats in the house.

The fans at the game and watching on tv will not just be cheering their team, but cheering with pride.  Remembering what that day means to all parties involved and to those family and friends each of us lost.  Ten years may have gone by, but to some, it still feels like yesterday.

As I walk around the tailgating faithful, I am sure I will feel a different vibe amongst everyone.  Many ready for the Jets to defeat the Cowboys, and others remembering the tragedies of that day.  It will be a home game like no other.  The feeling amongst fans will be a mixed bag.  Some may not know how to react, if they should be cheerful or not.  But all will be thankful they are together at a New York Jets game to share it with everyone.

So this September 11th, do not cheer just for your favorite team, remember those who lost their lives.  The Jets will take with them their visit to Ground Zero next Sunday.  Those emotions, thoughts, and feelings will be with them on the field, before the opening kick off and when the game is over.  Sports has an uncanny way of bringing us together through tragedy.  The past three years have seen many go through tragedy.  Maybe Sunday’s remembrance is what we need as Americans to bring us all together again.