NY Jets Fiscal Year Leaves Stockholders In Doubt Regarding Performance

New York Jets fans were not sure which Jets would be on the field against the Miami Dolphins on the first day of 2012 received a response to which we have seen time and time again..

The team which has a rich tradition of late season implosions, embarrassing answers, and never living up to their hype has returned to our amazement after two years of really lucky moments and 4th quarter rallies. Isn’t this the feeling we are all used to?

Jets stock holders are not used to this feeling yet.  They are not seeing a return on investment nor are they seeing a stock dividend of a playoff game.  Money put into a team that is not living up to their IPO.

The Jet season ended with complaining & self benching and another sub par quarterback performance, with only a one-point Titan victory over the Houston Texans keeping the Jets from having the glory of missing the playoffs by losing to a below .500 team while every other team with a chance was squandering their opportunity. The Jet brass has to somehow come to term with every fact presented. They put together a team that has not compared to the past two seasons in a year when there are fewer obstacles than ever to hurdle on the way to the Super Bowl. And isn’t that typical of the New York Jets, they not only squander their chances but keep their fans from getting the home playoff game they were promised.

The New York Jet faithful deserve to see a return on their investment.  With high prices come high demand to deliver.  An AFC title game appearance last year and taking control out of their own hands this year has not been looked favorably looked upon by season investors. Rex Ryan had everyone believe they were Super Bowl bound in the preseason.  If Rex was investing in futures and offered advice, everyone would have lost this season.

There will be plenty of time in the weeks to come for the blame game to start as to the downfalls during the Jets season. But in Game 17, the thorns were Santonio Holmes and, once again, Mark Sanchez. its beyond reproach to call out Brian Schottenheimer for Sanchez, who has not proven his high NFL Draft status since he first started as a professional..   The team has been corralling Sanchez long enough he can not fight out of situations he is unprepared for, it has finally crippled the team.

Younger fans and season ticket holders are not used to seeing their team implode like this.  They are used to seeing a team go to the playoffs, players step up to make last minute clutch plays for wins, and a coach who likes to show his bark is worse than his bite.  But these are the real Jets, the ones your father told you about.  They team they spend their hard earned money to see to be disappointed at the end of the season as well.

Holmes’ actions during the Dolphin game should not be overlooked, especially since he was designated as a Captain. But, frankly, his frustration is understandable. Remember, Holmes resume involves experience with a clutch, Super Bowl quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger…and he caused trouble there anyway. Here, he must be stunned to play on a team that was supposedly poised for a Super Bowl run under the field leadership of a completely clueless, inconsistent, less than professional standard QB in Sanchez. He’s right. In a game this important, how does he go completely ignored by the hack under center?

This team is unfortunately descending in the wrong direction once again. There should be a litany of changes this off-season, but nothing will effectively reverse another brewing Jet catastrophe.  The Jet fans have seen this and are accustomed to it.  The Jet investors do not want to hear promises from its board that can not be backed up.  If the Jets fans were true investors, imagine the leadership changes they would be able to vote on.

Every public company makes a push by the end of the year or their fiscal year.  The Jets did not do that this year.  They made no push to guarantee their stockholders a return going into the playoffs. With no dividend  paid this year, analysts might conclude there will be a repeat performance next year.  That is, unless management makes the right decisions and boosts the moral of their stockholders.  Only way to find out is to see who show up for kick off in 2012.

The Jet Nuts: A Breed Apart From Other Jets Tailgating Groups

This past Sunday I had the pleasure of watching the Jets face the Eagles at the home of Steve Renner.  Steve is one of the founders of the Jet Nuts tailgating group.  You could always spot them from their bus and Jet Nuts logos.  Now the game may not have been the best, but the afternoon with the Nuts was very enjoyable.  It was easy to see why many enjoyed tailgating with the Jet Nuts for over 20 years.

The core group of the Nuts were there for the game.  Even the eldest, Bill Borm who had been attending games since the then Titans of New York.  The Nuts are a warm, friendly bunch who have been attending games together even before the Jet Nuts name came about.  Always willing to welcome others, they all treated me as if I had been a Jet Nut for years.

The Jets/Cowboys game was the only game they brought their bus to this season.  With a drop off in participation, they were losing money and not covering their costs.  They ended up selling the bus to a Jets fan group in Virgina.  They use the bus for whatever games the Jets go to in Washington, Baltimore, and other surrounding NFL cities the Jets travel to.

They do have a plethora of memorabilia to remind them of their days as Jets Nuts.  From pictures and parking passes to the original Jet Nuts sign they had on their first bus.  Many autographs, stickers, shirts, and other merchandise with the Jet Nuts logo on it remains with them all.  Steve even has his original seat back from Giants Stadium.  How he got them, I can not tell.  They even have a wall size Jets banner from the stadium lot.  That story will be left for the documentary.  Let’s just say Steve’s wife acted fast and got it down before any security noticed.

One of the Jets Nuts did not want to keep his tickets past the first season at the new MetLife Stadium.  He felt zig-zagging up several escalators was a hassle, waiting on long lines at the bathroom, and dealing with obnoxious Jets ticket reps was just the tip of the iceberg for him.  The fact he had his seats since 1972 and “records were lost” making him a ticket holder since 1977 was an insult.

He said Steve had to wait on line for the bathroom for about 45 minutes.  One can miss a lot of the game just waiting on line for the bathroom.  I have heard this from several fans.  There was also a complaint about less port-a-pottys in the non PSL parking section.  It is a hard job to keep distance between a man, his beer, and the bathroom.

This Jet Nut even showed me his season ticket billing statement from 1983.  At that time, p[purchasing preseason tickets were optional.  Also, it was optional to purchase parking.  His total bill came to $208 for two seats.  I can remember in 1985 looking at our season tickets with a price of $25 on each ticket.  It seem professional football has skyrocketed in price and inflation over the years.  Professional football tickets have seen inflation and cost skyrocket over the years.

The elder statesman of the Jet Nuts, Bill Bohm, seems content on watching games at home now. Bill began attending games at the Polo Grounds watching the then Titans of New York to watching the Jets play on TV aboard the Jet Nuts bus last season.  As Bill’s knees got worse, he could not walk into the stadium.  Bill seemed pleased just attending the games with the rest of the crew and remaining on the bus to watch the Jets play.  Someone would always stay behind with Bill as everyone else ventured into the stadium.  Bill never stepped foot into the new MetLife Stadium.

Steve and a handful of the Jet Nuts are happy setting up their small grills and tailgating on a small patch of grass.  Steve now prefers buying better cuts of meat for less than in bulk for about 50.  They still enjoy what they do but with less people around.  Steve and the others had hoped the younger generation would have taken over the bus and the festivities, but that never happened.

Steve was given a trophy by the Jet Nuts for attending his 100th consecutive game.  That is over 12 years of attending games without missing one.  I am sure others may have done this, but I do not think their friends would give them a trophy for that feat.  I do not think any players can say they have ever missed a game.  I know in hockey they give out “iron man” awards for those who have gone long stretches without missing a game.  It goes to show how a concentrated group of Jets fans not only care about each other, but acknowledge accomplishments for being a fan.

The Jet Nuts are that rare breed of Jets fan.  They remind of the Jet Pack who I have written about before.  A bunch of friends who decided to get a bus and create something bigger for other Jets fans.  Not only did they include their friends, but whoever wanted to come over and enjoy the party with them.  For over 20 years many have celebrated with them and wanted to be a part of them.  Unfortunately, some things have to come to an end.  Many Jets fans have realized this over the past few seasons.

There are many other tailgating groups still around.  Sal & Carmine still have their usual set up, Dave and the guys in L5, the Flagman Frank Conway over by the Racetrack, the L7 Tailgate which was founded on Twitter, and many others all across the parking landscape.  But the big groups that started at Shea seem to be dwindling.  Even though the Jet Nuts had their first bus 20 years ago does not mean that was when they started as a group.  That was just when the bus attracted enough attention for others to join them for years to come.

We covered other issues this past Sunday.  I do have to save some of it for the documentary, you know.  Not giviving it all away right now.  I was glad To meet Steve, Bill, and the rest of the Jet Nuts back in 2008 and even happier they allowed me to share a game with them at Steve’s house.  Hanging with them did not feel like I was with one of the typical tailgating groups I mentioned before.  With the Jet Nuts, one feels more like family.  That is how they treat each other.  Even though they had their ups and downs dealing the the Jets, PSL’s, and tailgating, the Jet Nuts will always remain Jets fans no matter where they watch a game or or how many of them set a grill up at the stadium.

Non PSL Parking Preferred By Some At MetLife Stadium

Sunday’s Jets romp over Kansas City was the last Jets home game I will be filming at for my documentary.  Since August 2008, I have attended as many home games as I could to to tell countless fan stories.  Some long time season ticket holders watch the games from home while others still attend with fewer friends beside them.  There have been a few season ticket holders I have talked to who have passed away, leaving voids amongst friends and family at the games.

This last game I ventured over to the Izod Center and the non PSL parking.  I had not heard any perspective from those ticket holders yet and I needed to.  It seemed the consensus was the same from everyone I talked to.

Many non PSL holders seem to prefer parking over by the Izod.  They say it is easier to park and one does not have to wait on long lines to leave the lots.  There is easy access to any main roadway where ever you are going.  One can find a great spot for tailgating with plenty of space and not be disturbed.

Many say the walk over to the stadium takes about 15-20 minutes.  No one seems to mind the walk.  They would rather have that walk over rather than park close and fight others just to get out of the parking lot.  The non PSL lots do fill up closer to kick off as many single game ticket holders park over there.  It seems the more casual fan can find a good spot amongst the tailgaters but may have to arrive early depending on who the Jets are facing.

Even though there is a little walk, some PSL holders will park in the non PSL section.  Why?  To be able to tailgate with friends.  They prefer to keep their tailgate group together rather than break it up because the Jets say they can not park together.

Funny thing about some of these non PSL parking permits.  Some are paying $15 per game where others are paying $20 per game to park there.  I head different stories from several on different prices.  I believe the PSL holders who chose to park there pay the higher rate where the non PSL holders pay a lower ate.  I find that quite interesting.

It just seems no matter where season ticket holders park, there will always be mixed feelings on the situation.  There are pros and cons with everything.  But the bottom line here is everyone has at least one negative comment to say about the organization.  I have yet to meet one person that will say everything positive.

For many years, there was always one constant when it came to tailgating.  That constant were the Jet Nuts.  You could always tell where they were by their bus in the bus parking lot.  When I talked with Steve and the guys last season, they were not sure if they were coming back for the 2011 season.  As it turned out, they didn’t.  The costs did not warrant them to come back with the bus.  They came back in a small group and did casual tailgating, but that was it.

Steve and the guys were putting out more than they were seeing.  When you take that into account with others not purchasing a PSL or any type of season ticket there was less money to rely on.  Like other tailgating groups, they saw a decline in numbers that made it harder to keep a long standing group together.  The Jet Nuts had been together as a group since Shea Stadium.  But when an organization decides to make a change, it does not always benefit everyone.

I will be visiting with Steve and some of the other Jet Nuts before the Eagles game this Sunday.  I am sure the Nuts will have a lot to say about past and current tailgating affairs.  I already know their famed bus will not be there.  Steve sold the bus to a Jets group in Virginia.  So without the bus, a true era for the Jet Nuts has ended.

As more time passes, the long standing committed Jets season ticket holder seems to be fading out of the tailgating scene.  Being replaced by a younger, rowdier, eager to spend season ticket holder.

The make up has changed at Jets games.  The veteran fans see it.  They see less of their friends and fresher faces around.  The changing of the guard has happened.  The Jets have officially lost a seasoned, dedicated group that stuck with them for 40 years for a contingent that seems to care more about spending and  status.

If you do not believe me, check out Twitter and Facebook.

Jets Stock Under Performing; Shareholders Fear Another Decline

Last year I wrote an article about the Jets and their stock price.  It seems not much has really changed in one year.  Sure the Jets made it to the AFC Championship game last season, but their stock still underperformed according to analysts.  This season, their stock seems to be sliding amongst fans.  Some are ready to dump their stock while others will stay invested.

The question usually asked is “What stock do the Jets have?”.  The PSL’s and season tickets are the stock.  Season ticket holders invest their money in the team in hopes the Jets (the stock) perform to their expectations.  This season has been one of fluctuations.  After this past weekend, analysts are not hopeful on post season performance.  The Jets and some however, will remain hopeful and release reports that state such.

Joe Namath who is probably the Jets biggest analyst has mentioned the same comments two seasons in a row on the Michael Kat Show on ESPN Radio.  He said the Jets are not as great as they think they are.  For two season Joe Namath has seen the Jets stock under perform and overvalued.  Some investors (PSL/season ticket holders) feel the same way.  They are waiting for the day the Jets stock is worth the price they are paying and finally see a return on their investment.

There are some stockholders who could care less.  They will invest as much as they can for years even if the stock constantly declines.  They will invest in tickets, PSL’s, merchandise, and anything else that has the Jets name attached.  These investors will tell those who either stop investing or do not invest as much that they are not as invested as they are.  Because they invest more that they are a bigger shareholder.  It does not matter how much you spend on your stock, all Jets shareholders are equal.  Unless you actually own the team or work in their offices.

The Jets need to win just about every game to ensure they can get a Wild Card spot.  December has proven to be a hard month for the Jets to win in previous seasons.  This is a hurdle they need to overcome and prove they can increase the value of their stock before the postseason.  If the Jets fall short of their goal, some might continue to ponder if the Jets stock will ever be worth more than what the team says it is worth.  Many investors feel they were over charged for an undervalued stock.

As it stands now, there will be no rally for Jets fans to get their team ready for the postseason.  If the Jets look like the team many remember, there may not be a postseason.  The dividend many PSL and season ticket holders hope for are home playoff tickets.  Many wait for that opportunity.  But it is up to the Jets to make sure they play at home as opposed to on the road.  Many fans have gotten accustomed to seeing he Jets on the road in the playoffs.  Sometimes, the tickets are cheaper at other stadiums rather than seeing them play at MetLife Stadium.  With no home game, no dividend.

With the Jets win over Buffalo today they are now 6-5.  Even though they are in the wild card hunt, a lot still needs to happen.  There are still too many unforeseen factors to see if they Jets will make the postseason.  Even if they do, they need the New England Patriots to perform miserably if the Jets have a chance at winning the division and securing at least one home playoff game.  Just like the stock market, no one can predict what the future holds for the Jets and their investors.

Even modest gains and spikes do not mean a stock is a safe bet.  Same goes in football.  The Jets need to do more than just win a game here and there.  They need to outperform the other teams.  If a stock wants to look attractive, it needs to out perform competitors and show gains to a potential investor.  Otherwise, that investor might invest in the competitor.  In the Jets case, the only other team locally are the Giants.  There have been some ticket holders who went from the Jets to the Giants and vice versa.  I have spoken with them during tailgating.

Many Jets investors stand behind their team.  They will be at every game until the end of the season.  They will believe the Jets can pull it out and make a run for another shot at the AFC Championship, and maybe a Super Bowl.  But what seems to be a sure thing sometimes isn’t.  The Jets have lost games they should have won, and won a few thy should of lost.  It all depends on which Jets show up the rest of the season.  There is no predicting the outcome of a game.  As one can not predict accurately a stocks future.

Before anyone can think about putting money aside for that playoff game, the Jets need to do their part first.  Well, other teams need to do their part and lose accordingly as well.  If the Jets performed a bit better earlier on, their postseason chances might be looking brighter.  Just like any public company who offers stock, the better the performance, the better the return.  The Jets need to show that increased performance if they want to give their investors the return they are looking for in the postseason.

The Basics For Tailgating At MetLife Stadium

Recently I was contacted by a cable television series.  They are about to do their first episode on tailgating.  They saw my article on Football Reporters Online and the work I have done at Jets games, filming my documentary.  The producer wanted to know what they needed to do to shoot there and the best location to park.  I helped him along as best I could as they are going to a Giants game.  Same parking lot, different surroundings.  Seems everyone wants to know the best location not just for tailgating, but for filming at the stadium.

Now before and after finding the best tailgating location there is other work to be done.  Deciding on what to bring and what kind of set up a tailgate will have.  Now depending on the size of your tailgate, this can either be easy or complicated.  Some tailgaters do not bother with logistics.  They just bring a grill, cooler, chairs, and maybe a radio for other games and that’s it.  Others go above and beyond, creating a small dwelling or village to satisfy the masses they bring to their tailgate.

Last time I talked about location.  One can set up anywhere.  The concrete dividers and islands can obviously hold any size tailgate.  I have seen buses unload to grand set ups down to two guys with a grill and some chairs.  Any size tailgate works there.  If setting up in the lot itself, one needs to have a tighter and organized set up.  Cramming everything into one spot, maybe two could make it very cramped.  Depending on what you bring will determine where you should set up.

Every tailgate should have certain essentials.  Items that go beyond a grill and cooler.  These days, a pop up canopy tent is becoming a necessity.  Why?  For several reasons.  Provides great shade on hot days.  On rainy days, not only does it protect you but it also covers the grill so those steaks and burgers can cook evenly.  With side coverings, one has protection during windy rain and snow days.  The side panels cost extra, but are worth it during the bad elements.  When tailgating in groups, having tents side by side provide more space and room for all to be dry.   Some tents cost under $65, but it may be flimsy.  Better quality ones start around $100 providing sturdier covers.

When dealing with coolers, always have more than one.  Food & beverages should be packed separately.  Never know if prepared foods, meats, or anything that leaks may get over other items.  Cleaning items  off may be an easy way around it.  But reaching in for a drink and grabbing a chicken leg may not satisfy that thirst.  Being able to lift the lid and see the varieties of beer, soda, wine, water, it a lot easier than moving a leaking steak off the bottle tops.  Plus the bigger coolers can be used as extra seats.  Never know who may stop by.

Some seem to go above and beyond, bringing their whole living room to the game.  I have seen couches lined up on top of rugs with coffee tables.  Many will bring their flat screens and hook them into cable TV dishes to watch all the games.  Some will bring whatever amenities from home to make their tailgate a little more comfortable and pleasing to the eye.  If you are one of the very lucky few to have a Winnebago or trailer, some manage to have a luxury home on wheels to tailgate with.  Many just have the necessities in their trailer: small cooking area, place to sit, tv, refrigerator, Jets memorabilia, & maybe a small bathroom.

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most important decisions one will make is what type of grill to bring and how many.  Many regular tailgaters invest in the Thermos Grill-2-Go by Char-Broil.  Easy to travel with, large cooking surface, easy to clean, and compact design make it an ideal tailgate companion.  Abel to pack it into a trunk or back seat and open wide to cook anything you can think of.  The old staple will always be charcoal grills.  There are places to dispose of the coals, but many opt to let them cool off on the ground in the parking lot.

The Grill2Go in action

Some tailgates will have more than one grill depending on the size of the crew.  Others opt to bring grills or BBQ pits large enough to cook a Fred Flintstone brontosaurus style steak.  Many cook their food at different intervals.  Know what you want to cook when.  Start with the burgers and dogs and then work on the items that take longer like steaks, chops, chicken legs, kabobs, and whatever else one deems worthy.  Give yourself enough time to clean the grill and cool it down so one does not miss kick off.

This are a plethora of other options to make your tailgate better.  I just provide some of the basics.  I could write about countless other options, perhaps I will in the near future.  There  should be enough of a basis to build your tailgate on.  These options will come in handy for those attending Sunday’s match up between the Jets and San Diego Chargers.  This is LT’s first game against his former team so it will be entertaining.  Get there around 8 AM when the gates open to give yourself maximum tailgating time to make the whole day entertaining.

Prime Tailgating Locations Identified At MetLife Stadium

When I started LevysBakeryProductions.com I wanted to keep people and Jets fans informed about my documentary, Gang Greed and other projects.  I soon began writing about more than that.  About my experiences while filming both Jets games and NFL alternatives.  Focusing on Jets fans and tailgating before and after games.  It seemed that the more I did at the stadium, the more I was learning about what it takes to have a successful and entertaining tailgate.

It seemed no matter how much I tried to focus on the Jets and how their decisions affect their fans, the more tailgating became a focus at many points.  Yes many would like to be season ticket holders and attend the game.  But many of those fans also want to tailgate to have a true football experience.  Tailgating has become just as important as attending the games to many.  Some do it small with just themselves while others go above and beyond to create a lavish affair.

Everyday people come to my website to look for the best places to park, how to get parking passes, what tailgating foods people prepare, where Fireman Ed’s seats are, and other topics related to Jets tailgating.  All of those searches let me know how my website has become a destination for those looking to tailgate at Jets home games .

I have journeyed over the blacktop landscape at the stadium.  So today I will start with three things that will hopefully make your tailgating experience at, ugh, MetLife Stadium that much better.  Location, location, location.  Now here we have a map of the MetLife stadium parking.  Now depending on what color parking pass you have will determine where one might think they will have a great location to tailgate.Now many feel the best areas to tailgate are the concrete or dirt borders that surround each parking area.  I happen to agree.  It gives you space to put your grill, tent, and other tailgating items.  It also provided room for those groups that have mass tailgaters.  But one must arrive before they open the gates and wait on line, this happens five hours before kick off.  This will ensure you get a prime spot on the outlying border.
Many of those with Winnebago’s, trailers, campers, smokers, will set up along borders.  The key is to find the spots before they do or get into the mix.  The tailgating security will not tell you how to set up your tailgate in these areas hence why many go for it off the bat.  If you have a lot of people coming or a lot of gear, get there as early as possible.  If not, expect to wait on long lines, maybe over an hour.

Now, if you are not one of the lucky few to get a spot on the outskirts, I suggest setting up next to the lot markers.  The lot markers are easy to find, they are also the night parking lights.  Easy to find your car after the game and if you get a few cars parked in a row there it makes a group tailgate easier to set up.  Many do this in the yellow parking lots.  The green ones fill in closer to game time as those fans seem to care more about the game than tailgating.

In some lots, at the end of each parking aisle is a small blocked off section.  Nothing big, but small areas outlines for non parking use.  Some take the end spots so they can have this small area to enhance their tailgate.  I have seen some good set ups within this space and their parking area.  These are mainly in the Yellow lots and very few in the green.  The further away one parks from the stadium the easier it is to get away with certain tailgating set ups.

Parking lot D in the yellow section provides a good combination of both.  There are only four rows/two lanes of parking so the tailgating there seems to be more compact and easy to set up.  Bathrooms are close and if you get a lucky enough spot, you could park under the bridge from the stadium to the Izod Center for shelter from rain.  There is even a dirt section close to Route 120 where one can set up a tailgate well.  It may be tight over there, but there are good spots for setting up your tailgate.

I have yet to make it over to the NON PSL parking.  From what I understand, one can not tailgate in the garage.  If one does decide to tailgate over by the Izod Center, you need to make it quick.  The time it takes you to pack up and walk over the stadium is not a hop, skip, and jump.  Only in Lot B is tailgating easy for NON PSL holders.  In the numbered parking, same rules apply as if you parked in the PSL parking.  One just needs to have a quick set up to ensure making it over by kickoff.

It does not matter where you park, the stadium has employees walking around making sure people keep their tailgate limited to only one spot.  Keep any grill or tent close to your vehicle and do not stick out far into the driving area.  They will tell you to move it.  That is why people tailgate in groups or find areas they can set up that does not fall in designated parking areas.  Groups like L7 Tailgate, L5 Tailgate, Frank Conway and his friends, and others always tailgate in big numbers.  They know with more space comes better room to have fun before any game.

Some friends and family look forward to tailgating before every home game.  Sometimes more than the game.  It gives people a chance to catch up, reminisce, and for others, a chance to meet someone new.  I know of a couple who met during Jets tailgating and several years later, went to a Jets game  the same day they were married.  So always choose your spot wisely when deciding where to set up to tailgate.  It may determine not just how big your tailgate can be, but the kinds of memories it will create. 

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 Tailgating: One Era Ends, Social Media Spawns Another

Sunday the Jets faced the Bills and defeated them with ease.  They also did it with their second and third string players.  Even though they faced the Bills, they showed they wanted to go into the playoffs with a head of steam and prove they can hang with the big boys.  Sometimes when your backs are against the wall and your critics doubt you, you have to prove them wrong.  All Jet faithful hope they can bring that same energy into the playoffs when they face Indianapolis.  They will need it against Manning and the Colts.

Out of the eight home games, the Jets had five games that had rain or other bad weather.  Luckily today, it ended before the game started.  As usual, I got there as early as possible.  They let tailgaters in at 8 AM.  With the fog and rain this morning, there were not too many people on line to get in.  Many arrived about 30 minutes to an hour before kick off.  You can tell who the die hard fans are.  They are the ones who will get there as early as possible and tailgate in any weather.  While trekking across the lots to get to the non PSL parking, one can see where they true fans were.  The Non PSL parking closest to the stadium had a decent amount of vehicles.  It seems the further out from the stadium you go, the more passionate the fans.

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Met up with a crew that saw its tailgating numbers drop form about twenty to six or so.  Two of those are newcomers who they met this season.  They all talked about how many lines they have to stand in.  From the minute they leave their parking are to the minute they have to get to their seats.  They have to cross two elevated bridges and stand in lines to get into them.  Then the lines to get into the stadium.  Lines again to get onto the escalators to get to their upper tier seats.  So no matter where they go in the stadium, they have to wait on lines.  From their parking spot to their seat it takes about thirty minutes.  And this is the non PSL parking section closest to the stadium.

Their belief is the real fans are the ones who will be there no matter what.  Not show up less than an hour to go before kick off, pull into their green parking spot, and walk right into the stadium.  The true fans are out there in any weather and make tailgating a part of the true game day experience.  These are fans who had lower level seats in the old stadium, but because their pockets are not so deep they had no choice but to move to the upper tier of the stadium.  Many share their sentiment, that the true fan was pushed upstairs to make way for the corporate or business ticket holder.

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My associate Sixto and I took the elevated bridges over to see what they were talking about.  I feel bad for those who have to wait on line like cattle moving through there.  I can see why it can take forever.  We walked across the green parking to the yellow side.  There were not too many cars in the green lots, and this was around 10 AM.  By the time we made it to the yellow parking we could see there were more people set up, still overcast and the occasional drops were falling.

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I had a chance to talk with Cesar and Mark from the Jet Pack.  They were established back in 1968 and had dozens upon dozens of people at every tailgate.  This year, it was just them and maybe a few others sporadically.  They have set up in a new location since their old one no longer exists.  Even if they do not have their many friends or fellow Jet Pack members with them, they will still be out there every game.  Their love of their team is what keeps them going.  It does not matter if the others do not have tickets, they will keep going to every home game.  After 40 plus years and countless organizational changes, these guys are the real fans.  They know who the true fans are.

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After Cesar, I met back with with David Fier.  I first interviewed David two years ago.  David tailgates in Lot L with Guyton, the Godfather of Lot L and the other tailgaters they bring.  Guyton is one of those long time fans that tells stories like you were listening to your own grandfather, or father depending on your age.  His story about meeting Joe Namath after being in the military is a great story.  David takes his own money and feeds everyone at his tailgate.  He spends around $1,000 per game on food, drinks, and much more to give his friends a good time not just before the game, but during as well.

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David is one of a rare type of Jets fan.  David used to have season tickets in the lower tier of the old stadium, not too far from the 50 yard line.  But once the PSLs came about, he decided not to spend his money.  The PSL’s for that area would have been $25000 per seat and he had four seats.  Add the $700 per ticket per game to those seats and you have a $128K price tag.  He did not want to move upstairs as he looks at that as a step backwards.  Why after so many years of making his way down to the lower section would he want to go back up again?  He would rather spend around $1000 per game tailgating and stay in the parking lot.  This is a generous person.  He feeds his friends and weary tailgaters for free and watches the game from an HDTV in the back of his truck.

Not too far from there was the L7 Tailgate crew who was started on Twitter. Yes, Twitter.  They set up under the L7 sign in, obviously, Lot L7.  It was an interesting tailgate.  If you mentioned your name, you got a look.  If you mentioned your Twitter handle, people knew who you were instantly.  The main guys behind this tailgate were @L7Tailgate and @Fear_The_Panda.  They met in college and seeing as they were both Jets fans, decided to get season tickets together.  When they decided to tailgate, they put it out across Twitter to anyone who wanted to join them.  Then the Twitter handle #L7Tailgate was created to make it more official.  From their start they have had as little as 10 people to as many as 50.

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The more they Tweeted about the tailgate, the more word got around.  Many Twitter users followed @L7Tailgate and everyone else helped to spread the word.  Tweeters like @laportal @greenlanternjet of CBSNewYork.com, @Fear_The_Panda, @e_man of JetsTwit, @LaurNYJ, @MikeCatNYJ, @Double_O_Six, @MissJtotheK, and many others.  This is the first time I have heard Twitter or social media be used to fuel a tailgate party.  I know there are a few blogs that talk tailgating, but those tailgates did not get started from social media or the internet.

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The L7 Tailgate is free as well.  They prepare food for everyone.  Plus, you can bring what you want and add to the festivities.  They have developed their own tailgate food, called the “Rex Ryan”.  I finally had a chance to sample this caloric overload.  It is a hot dog, wrapped in cheese, wrapped in a hamburger, wrapped in bacon.  Yes, it is just as tasty as it sound.  It is named the Rex Ryan because it is big, obnoxious, and they love it anyway.  It was a really fun and welcoming tailgate to be a part of.

From there we ventured over to the Jet Nuts.  These guys can be spotted by their bus, their third one for the past 21 years.  These guys may have to call it quits.  They are about $2500 in the hole as they charge at their tailgate.  They have seen numbers diminish this year due to, what else, the PSLs.  So they are not seeing the return on their investment like in previous years.  If they can make that money back before ticket money is due by raffles or auctioning off memorabilia, then the Jet Nuts will be back next season. The Jet Nuts mainly get their contingent from word of mouth.  They rely on others to spread the word to get people to come to their tailgate.

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My main reason seeing the Jet Nuts was to talk with William Born.  He is the main Jet Nut.  The patriarch if you will.  Bill has been going to games since the first days at Shea.  He reminds me of that father or grandfather who can captivate your attention with his recollection of previous seasons.  A very humble, likable guy.  A quiet type whose conversation speaks louder than his voice.  Bill watches the game from the bus.  He can not walk to the stadium.  The bus parking is too fair from the stadium.  He has never stepped foot in the new stadium.  A man of his years and mileage with the team can not even go inside to watch the team he loves.

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He lets his kids, grandkids, and other relatives go inside for him.  There is a family member or two that will stay with him as they watch the game in the comfort of their bus.  As I sat there talking with him, I felt like I wanted to carry him to the stadium.  I did what I could to keep the conversation going, it was just a great moment.  Bill even knows that the ones who are in the stadium now are not the real fans, but corporate ones.  People who have money to spend and not true Jets fans.  NO matter the age, there is a like minded pattern here amongst the true Jets fans.

It seems the veteran tailgate groups rely on word of mouth, friends bringing friends and family to help populate their tailgates.  The new younger fans know how to use social media to their advantage.  Plus, the Jets players interact with the fans via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets.  It helps create a more fan friendly environment between fans and players.  Plus, tailgate groups have websites and Twitter handles now.  The Jet Nuts have a website too.  So one can just send out a Tweet and let others pass it along to get people to come on by.  Word of mouth is still good, as many have relied on that for years.

But the torch has been passed to a new, younger, technically inclined fan.  When you see Jets players thanking Tweeters on the jumbotron during the games, you know there is a change in the air.  The younger fans still are not willing to part with money too fast.  Some from the L7 Tailgate will not buy tickets next year.  College comes first and money needs to go to that before any season tickets.  The newer fan is anxious to get their seats and see the games while the more veteran season ticket holders care more about being treated fairly by the organization.

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This season was very different from previous years.  Not just because of the new stadium, PSL’s, and rejuvenated team.  But for the first time, there was finally unity amongst many of the fans.  Jets fans held their head higher, than in previous years.  They see a difference in the team and it showed in the way they celebrated before every home game.  I see more fans wearing their green and white away from the game more than ever.  Then once tailgating, there is more pride.  I am sure in future seasons, that pride will be there.  Unless fans once again say, “Same old Jets”. Let us hope they do not return.  The fans will always let them know.  Especially in the parking lot.

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Bing National Tailgating Competition Fires Up Jet Fans

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Not only did the New York Jets pull out a win in the final seconds of the game, but there was another winner at the New Meadoalwands Stadium.  A winner in Bing’s National Tailgate Competition.  This morning at 10:30 was the national competition being held in seven locations across the country sponsored by Bing.  Today’s stop in New Jersey was the third stop on the circuit.  It will end on Thursday February 3rd in Dallas during Super Bowl week.  All the winners will go head to head to see who is the best tailgater in the country.

Sixto, Anthony Quintano, and myself got there early enough to stop by the L7 Tailgate who got together via Twitter.  They had about 40 or so Tweeters there and I missed out on the Rex Ryan for another week.  DAMN!  By the time we got to the Bing.com set up we were presented with free scarves and wool hats bearing the Bing.com logo.  There were four groups vying for best tailgater.  You had Franks Lot 11 Flagmen, Lenny’s Lot K Tailgaters, Gang Green Grillers, and the Winters Brothers.  Each group had not just their own set up, but they had to stand out from everyone else.  The Winters Brothers had their Jets bus behind them.  Frank Conway had 28 flags flying on 14 poles.  The Grillers had a tiki bar, Revis Island, and ice sculptures.  Lenny’s had a kosher grill and his famed Lenny’s burgers.

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There were also social media photo booths with wall mounted touch screens provided by SMART that allowed guests to immediately Tweet, Facebook or email photos right from the event.  Or just play the bean bag toss or football throw on your own/  Even a couple of stations where you could try out Bing if you were unfamiliar with the website search engine.  DJ’s not just from Bing were playing music, but from every tailgate.  You could not walk anywhere without being blasted by some kind of music.

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Before the event started, we were introduced to the judges.  First up as “Crazy Legs” Conti.  The green bean eating champion and a regular on the competitive eating circuit.  You can see him in his dreadlocks every year on the Natahan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.  Next up was SNL Alum, comedian, actor,  and fitness magnate Joe Piscopo.  Even though he is a Giants fan, he had a blast being amongst the Jet faithful.  The third judge is no stranger to Jets fans.  Two time Pro Bowl player, inducted in the Football Hall of Fame, and Wide Receiver for the Jets from 1977-1989 was none other than Wesley Walker.  The final judge is the Commissioner of Tailgating and head of the Tailgating Institute of America, Joe Cahn.  Four men brought together for their love of food and football.

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The teams were judged on their tailgating game skills first.  A bean bag toss and football throw was up first that was not easy for all those who competed.  I can not post all the pictures here so check out the slide show at the bottom of the page or on my Flickr page.  Next the judges went around and had to taste all the food.  What would a tailgating competition be without eating?  Lenny had his special Lenny Burgers with the cheese inside.  Wesley Walker could not put his down.  The Winters Brothers had a menu all prepared with Jets players names accompanying the dishes.  The Flagman Frank had some nice steaks prepared that tasted great.  The Gang Green Grillers had, well, about everything as their special!  Was hard to keep track of all the food.  Some had great shrimp, turkey legs, fillet mignon, and anything else that would make the Homer Simpson in us drool.

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We wanted to eat more than we did.  Which was not enough.  We had to do a lot of interviews and film the event so there was not enough time to eat.  I will say the coffee flavored Patron is very good though.  Beers to the left of me.  Beers to the right of me.  Would have been nice to have had one but we had to stay focused.  By this time I was able to talk with Wesley Walker.  Wesley loved being amongst the Jets fans who had not only watched him when he played, but even the younger fans who were introduced to his greatness.  He did say he was such a great receiver that he would be able to escape Revis Island every time jokingly.  Wesley does enjoy watching today’s players as he sees an intensity now that was still around when he played.

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There was one aspect of Wesley Walkers career I had to find out about in depth.  Wesley is legally blind in one eye.  He was able to make it past the physical back then as there was no vision test.  He knew what he needed t do to compensate for that vision loss.  It made him step up his game and be that much of a better player.  It was after a while that the team had found out about his vision.  Wesley says it was because of that they started doing the combines, to make sure players were 100% in all areas on the field so they would not play with any limitations.  I myself have a loss of central vision in both my eyes that forced me out of wrestling in high school.  So it was a unique experience to be able to find out from an NFL Hall of Famer what he did to make sure his “handicap” did not stop him from what he loved to do.

As the competitors were trying to grease the palms of the judges with their burgers, chicken, and ribs, I managed to get some words with Bing.com representative Kari Dilloo.  Kari talked about Bing’s abilities to search anything football like Bing’s Sports Compare & Bing Instant Answers.  Bing is doing what they can do make their search engine so football user friendly that you can find anything on football.

Multiple stations set up throughout the event to allow guests to try their new software.   “Bing Sports Compare” which creates a direct side by side visual comparison of NFL players and “Bing Instant Answers” which provides instant and accurate information at your fingertips – both perfect for brushing up on football stats prior to tailgate and game time. Also on display was “Bing Travel” which is perfect for the next time you are looking to follow your favorite team to an away game as Bing not only allows you to see hotel and flight price comparisons but also lets you know when would be the best time to book your trip.

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The final contest of the day was the trivia contest.  Each team sent their best man to the stage to answer questions on everything Jets.  From questions ranging from where was Super Bowl III played to where did Nick Mangold go to college.  Every team had their strengths and weaknesses.  But only one team could walk away the best Tailgater in NJ and move on to Dallas.  Joe Piscopo said he has never really tailgated before and wished he could send them all.  He enjoyed his time there even though he looked like a fish out of water.  He provided the comedy element for the day.  Joe said he would rather be escorted into the stadium via a side door than go in through the fans in the parking lot.

But in the end just like in the Highlander, there can be only one.  Everyone did what they could to come out on top.  As the judges tallied their votes they all settled on one winner.  The Winters Brothers took the trophy and title of Best Tailgater in NY.  They will head to Dallas during Super Bowl week to compete for best tailgater in the country.   All in all it was a success and everyone that participated enjoyed themselves, especially the Winters Brothers.  I will have more details up soon along with videos of the event and interviews with the judges.  Next year will bring about more competitors and Jets fans.  No one left unsatisfied, or with an empty stomach.

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Jets Fans To Compete In National Tailgating Competition

Here we are, at the midway point of the football season.  The Jets are 7-2 and look more like 4-5.  Games against Denver, Detroit, and recently Cleveland have not had the Jets looking like Super Bowl contenders.  More like playoff hopefuls.  They have to perform more convincingly if they want to get further than the first round of the playoffs, if they make it there.  They definitely give their fans not just sometime to cheer for, but heart attacks as well.  I needed a defibrillator the past two weeks from the way they had been playing.  Ken Pikowski asked me at the last jets home game if I wanted to go out to the Cleveland game with him and some friends.  They were riding out in this tractor trailer sized camper and offered me a ride.  Would have loved to have gone, but work duties kept me here at home.

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The football season is too short.  There have been four home games and only four left.  Not enough time to tailgate for a football season.  I do not count the preseason in there.  If the Jets have a home playoff game then that is a bonus.  Fans will not only celebrate a home playoff game, but party like hell in the lots and tailgate even harder.  Seems when a team is doing great or making a great playoff run, the tailgating gets more serious.  The groups are crazier, chants are louder, but the food is always delicious.

This coming Sunday at the Houston Texans game, I will be trying a once in a lifetime tailgate food.  The L7 Tailgate crew who came together on Twitter has a food they call the “Rex Ryan”. A hot dog, wrapped in a cheeseburger, wrapped in bacon.  I will have a Lipitor and a Vytorin on me just in case.

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I will also  be covering the Bing.com National Tailgating Competition.  It is being held at 10:30 AM before the Jets take on the Texans outside the Pepsi Gate.  Tailgating, for most football fans, is way beyond just cooking a few hot dogs in the parking lot before the game. This is certainly the case in Houston, Denver, New York, Phoenix, New Orleans, Seattle, and Dallas/Fort Worth, the seven cities Bing.com will be visiting with this competition.

Because of this passion and the social nature of tailgating Joe Cahn, the Commissioner of Tailgating, and Bing, the decision engine from Microsoft, have teamed up to host the first Bing National Tailgating Championship. Houston will serve as the official kick-off with a regional competition taking place at Reliant Stadium before the Texans/Chargers game. With the Bing National Tailgating Championship, tailgaters from around the country will have the opportunity to compete for the first-ever title of “America’s #1 Tailgater.” In addition, this competition gives fans the chance to prove that Houston is worthy of being titled one of the country’s “tailgating capitals.”

Starting at 10:30 a.m. anyone can come by the Pepsi Gate to watch the region’s best tailgate teams compete for a shot at the national title.  The visitors will receive prizes and a chance to see four tailgating teams compete in four categories including:

1) Cooking: Originality, presentation, regional flair and taste

2) Tailgate Spirit and Environment: Includes tailgating set-up and team flair

3) Parking Lot Agility: bean bag and football toss

4) Team/Sport Knowledge: Trivia challenge

Local judges will be on hand to determine the winning team including football legend Wesley Walker. And of course, Joe Cahn, the Commissioner of Tailgating will be on hand to officiate the competition.

For tailgating teams that would like to throw their BBQ tongs in the ring for a chance to be crowned the nation’s best, please visit:  www.tailgatinginstitute.com/bing.  So come on out to see the best Jets tailgating and how Bing can help fans make your game day decisions.

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Tailgating has become more than just arriving before a game to eat and have fun in the parking lot.  It is a time to share memories with friends.  To make that game day experience one step better.  When I walk around the lots, I see more people than ever taking pictures.  There was a time you could not get too many pictures inside the stadium.  With the advent of camera phones though it makes it easier to snap off a few pics and capture some shots.  My friend Jason must have a new picture up on Facebook after ever Yankees game he goes to.  My point is people want to capture more about what goes on outside the stadium as well as inside it.  Tailgating is not an important part of that game day experience.

Everyone has a memory they will always remember.  Many will remember the Monday Night Miracle, Dan Marino’s fake spike, Dennis Byrd getting hurt and many other on field moments.  Others will have countless memories off the field.  Ones that happen in the lot during tailgating.  A place where birthdays are celebrated, anniversaries, and other events where friends and family can celebrate.  I interviewed one couple who met at a Jets game while tailgating.  They were also married on a Monday.  Right after their wedding they attended a Monday night Jets game.  You can not make a better game day memory than that.