Jets Keep Winning, Veteran Fans Debate Future Tailgating

This past Thursday night, the Jets gave their fans a true win to celebrate over.  On Thanksgiving night, they beat the stuffing out of those turkeys called the Cincinnati Bengals.  Three wins in under a year.  The Jets defense came alive when the team needed them to the most.  That was a key piece missing the past few weeks.  Sanchez and the offense was picking up the slack for the defense.  But Revis and the Defense proved they want it just as bad.  Two interceptions, a fumble recovery, three sacks, and a safety kept their juices flowing.  It was great to finally see the Jets have a decisive win that they did not have to pull out in the final seconds of the game.

Where has Brad Smith been hiding his potential?  For weeks now he has barely cracked double digits when running the ball or in the Seminole package.  Mr. Every Position sparked New York to its second-best start after he scored on an 89-yard kickoff return — during which a cleat slipped off — and also had a 53-yard touchdown run.  Brad Smith is showing why he is an integral part of the Jets offense.  It seems when guys are needed on the team, they come to life.  I think some are still waiting for Joe McKnight to come around.

Now the Jets may be 9-2 and that gives many fans a reason to celebrate.  Everyone will.  Many younger fans have not seen a Jets team like this and older veteran fans have not seen a team this good in decades.  But it is still not enough to keep some long time tailgaters happy.  Long time tailgaters The Jet Nuts, Jet Pack, and a few others have considered putting a halt to their mass crowd tailgating ways.  They are not seeing the people they once saw come to their tailgates to pay.  Many blame it on friends opting out of the PSLs and continuing their season tickets.  The groups that charge per head is not seeing the same income come in to help fund a large tailgate party each game.

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Caesar who helped create the Jet Pack back in 1967 said over 80% of the crew did not continue their season tickets.  Now, they tailgate in two separate groups and do not really have the bond they used to have.  Cesar has tried to get Robert Parrin over at the other group to come over to no avail.  One group has about eight while the other has about a handful.  Really down from the dozens I have seen at their combined tailgate before.  To them, the game is not the same experience without being able to tailgate the way they used to, with their friends.

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The Jet Nuts though have a larger tailgate.  Sometimes catering to over 100 fans, depending on the game.  But this season has seen a considerable drop.  They say the crowds are not coming to them like they used to.  They are putting out more money and not seeing much of a return.  Not to mention the bus they drive up from Port Redding with the TV’s, industrial sized grills, and generations of family members.  The Jet Nuts are thinking this could be their last year of group tailgating.  They have been a focus on Jets tailgating for years and they are on their forth bus.

Some could argue the economy still has a hold on some, only paying for the essentials when it comes to the games.  Spending what they had on the PSL, parking pass, and tickets.  Maybe some do not have the $20-$30 per game for a tailgate.  IF you have a family, that can add up.  So it could be cheaper to do a few burgers and dogs yourself.  But people will always party in the parking lots.  You will always see the few and the many.  The groups who take up 4-5 spots who will cook for a few dozen friends.  Not to mention Lobel’s of New York and Weber Grills teaming up to do your tailgating for you, for a price.    They will offer grills to rent in the future.

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As long as the Jets keep wining, the fans will find a reason to celebrate.  But at the home games, not everyone will celebrate together.  Some are doing it by their cars, while their friends are doing it for the first time from their couches.  Many fans note he inside of the stadium has changed.  Not just the building, but the fans inside as well.  It is a different atmosphere all around.  From parking, to the building, to the fans seating around you, to how you leave the stadium parking.  Everyone sees a difference inside when attending a game.  But the biggest difference is how many new younger fans there are compared to the old regime of fans who were with the team since the New York Titans days, or even Shea Stadium.

Even if the Jets win the Super Bowl, it will not bring back the fans who have already left.  They will continue to cheer on their team.  Just no longer from seats inside the stadium.  But from the ones in front of their TV or at their favorite sorts bar.  Sometimes a bigger better stadium does not mean your fans will be better.  You never hear too many people recall memories from walking around a stadium, from visiting VIP lounges or suites.  Sitting at the stadium bar or carving station.  Not even from what concession stand they get their beer from.  They recall the memories of the game itself, memorable plays seen on the field watching with their friends.  Memories recapped while tailgating in the parking lot, passing those memories on to the next generation.

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