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Fireman Ed Tells A Tale Of Two Stadiums

With football in a standstill right now, people can only talk about the upcoming draft.  Next season seems like something Santa should be bringing as everyone has it on their wish list.  But you will find those who are hopeful.  The ones who are already counting the days until the Jets have their first ever home game in the new stadium against the rival Giants.  A game many always look forward to.  Some fans look forward to it more than others.  One in particular is Fireman Ed Anzalone.

I sat down with with Ed in June of last year to get his thoughts in many areas.  Ranging from the Jets chant to the Jets, to the new stadium and the PSLs.  This time, I wanted to get his thoughts on what he thought about the season, the stadium, and if there will be a 2011 season.  Ed, like always, shares some thoughts for the camera and has other thoughts off camera.

The Fireman Ed/Christopher Black Fiasco Credit:CBS News

In the old stadium, Ed sat along the 20 yard line and had a great view of the field.  Everyone knew where he was and it was easy for him to get up and lead the Jet faithful in the chants.  Now, he has his seats in the end zone behind the goal posts where people have to look and see if he can be located.  Not the best place to be to lead the crowd.  But with the cameras and video screen, it helps the situation.

Ed knew the people he sat around in the old stadium.  These were people who had their seats for over 20 years.  Now, he is surrounded by different people every game.  When Green Bay came to face the Jets, there were two rows of Packer fans surrounding him.  Ed says it is a revolving door of fans who sit in the seats in the end zone.  At least by him.  Certain ticket holders look at the seats as an investment and will make their money back charging for tickets on a per game basis.

Ed notices how many are not really there to see the game.  Ed says that they diehards are the ones who sit in the end zone to about the 20 yard line in the lower section.  From about the 20-25 yard line to the other 20-25 yard line are the fans who are not truly there to see the game.  They care more about the VIP clubs, Coaches Club, bars, lounges, and other places to watch the game.  Ed says those seats are empty during the game, but the TV camera will not pick that up.  The seats are gray for a reason.  It makes the seat look filled on TV, even when it is not.

Ed on WFAN's Boomer & Carton Credit:WFAN

Ed has paid for four PSL’s in the lower part of the end zone.  He went for the cheapest PSL’s he could afford.  People question him actually purchasing them or if the Jets gave them to him.  Ed knows that if he takes anything like that from the team, he will have to owe them something.  He does not want to take anything form them or owe them anything.  He pays like everyone else, and does not like it.  He is stuck sitting around a revolving door of fans.  Ed knows the real fans, the ones who stick it out in the worst weather sit closer to the top.  Sounds like the hierarchy in the Roman Coliseum.

Speaking of true fans, Ed has even spoken with several Giants fans.  Many fans do not like the new stadium at all for several reasons.  For one, this stadium does not have their name on it.  There are no red and blue seats.  They have to share it equally with the Jets kills some Giants fans.  Plus, some feel cheated by John Mara.  They know his father would have never have approved anything his son has done.  They feel fans have been treated better over their 90 year history and they have been slapped in the face.

Ed is optimistic the 2011 season will happen.  if it doesn’t he does hold the team owners responsible.  They have so much power and finances that they do not have to worry.  This situation shows just how greedy they really are and not willing to give in to the players.  He does feel the fans are caught in the middle and are always caught in situations with no thought.  Ed believes if there is no 2011 season, then shame on the owners for doing so.  Sometimes, there has to be give and take.  Not just take.

Leading The First Chant In New Stadium Credit:JetsTwit.com

There comes a time when some know their time is up.  When a torch needs to be passed.  Ed knows that time is coming soon for him.  He is over 50 and knows he can not do the Jets chants much longer.  He said if someone came along and thinks they can do it or takes a shot and doing what he does, then he would step aside gracefully.  Ed believes in a few years, there will be some other Jets diehard fan doing what he does, and younger.  And Ed is ok with that.  he is content to just attend and watch the games.

Ed is not shy when it comes to giving his opinions.  I just do not feel like giving them all away right now.  Then what would be left for the documentary?  I may decide to give people more in a little bit.  It all depends on the lockout being lifted.  There are appeals and so much more that can happen.  So instead of writing about the Jets, I will have more on Fireman Ed.

Football is entering a new era.  The NFL will not be the same after this lockout.  The teams, players, and even the fans know that the sport of football has been replaced with the business of football.  Fans are not fans any longer, they are consumers.  Looked at for the dollar they spend.  Long gone are the days where you knew people names in the stadium.  Where you could get up close and personal.  Now that is done on Facebook and Twitter.  Ed saw the change coming years ago.  He may be known as Fireman Ed to everyone, but to the Jets, he is both a consumer and a brand they can push to make them more money.

NY Jets Need To Show More Fan Appreciation

I hate the time in between home games.  I think some season it is too long.  The first week of the season was great, two homes games within a week.  The Jets have their home games spread out too far this season.  There are a lot of fans who feel the same way.  Others just go to those away games and tailgate there if they can drive to them.  The ones one has to fly to are not as easy to tailgate at.  Makes it hard to check your grill and cooler in at the terminal.  But some fans are so die hard they will follow their team anywhere.

All this time between games is hard when one loves to tailgate.  Yeah one can have friends over the house to watch a game on TV and barbecue but it is not the same.  It is never the same experience when you are not at the game.  I know many fans are experiencing it for the first time this season, not being a season ticket holder.  All because of not wanting to purchase a PSL.  Many of those fans had their seats for several years.  I am not talking about the ones who were only at Giants Stadium.  I am talking about the ones who came over from Shea Stadium and the Polo Grounds.  The ones who were there for the team and gave their hard earned money to support them when no one else would.

I am a big fan of Pink Floyd.  Great music, great stage shows, and their lyrics tell a story not too many know about.  Pink Floyd were formed in 1965, and originally consisted of Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Richard Wright, and Syd Barrett.  In 1968, David Gilmour joined the line-up. Barrett was soon removed, due to his increasingly erratic behavior due to his continued abuse of psychedelic drugs.  Once Barrett left the band, the other continued on to great worldwide success.  But it was Barrett’s songwriting ability and use of sound composition with Nick Mason that helped to develop what Pink Floyd would be without Barrett.  Once David Gilmour rook over for Syd Barrett, Roger Waters became the main songwriter.  The sound developed and all of the songs were dedicated to Syd Barrett.

Syd Barrett helped define who Pink Floyd would be.  If it is was not for his influence, there would be no albums like Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here among others.  They went on to dedicate every album, performance, and song lyrics to him.  They always wanted Syd to be there and be a part of the band.  But Syd sank deeper into his own self and psyche.  Pink Floyd never lost track of who helped to get them started and noticed for their music.  They always loved their friend and never lost sight of who they wanted to thank for their music.  Every concert began with them saying :”For Syd”.  Every album, every song has hidden meaning in wishing Syd was with them.

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The New York Jets and other professional teams should learn something from them.  Thanking those who have been with you since the very beginning.  Helping you get to the point where you are at now.  If it was not for the fans buying those season tickets for the Titans of New York games in the AFL, there would be no New York Jets today.  Those fans stuck with their team no matter what and were there for them and continued to buy those season tickets.  You will never see a fan be inducted into the Jets “Ring of Honor” and Fireman Ed does not count.  I am talking about the fans like Tommy Wilson, The Jet Pack and countless others who have been with the team for over 45 years.  The ones who have been fans longer than anyone has worked for the team.  Even longer than Woody Johnson being the owner.

The thank you does not need to come in a commemorative ticket holder to showcase your season ticket for being the first to have a PSL in the new stadium.  That goes out to everyone.  EVen stockholders get dividends if a company makes a profit.  Being a PSL holder in a way makes one a stockholder.  You paid your money to hold a seat and pay for the new stadium.  Ever PSL holder has stock in the new stadium.  Every PSL holder deserves a vote and a piece no matter how much they paid for one.  Instead, the team thanks the ones who pay more than those who just paid.  The Jets need to realize a thank you needs to be done on a more personal level.  I am sure Woody Johnson does not know or did not thank the dedicated fans who kept their seats since the 1960′s, since their “records only go back to 1977″.

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Myself With Woody Johnson

Mark Cuban as an owner even sits court-side by the fans and not up in his box.  When was the last time a Jets owner sat down with the fans?  I am not talking about Woody walking through the parking lot during tailgating because it is a nice PR moment and “shows” he cares.  I am talking about Woody Johnson sitting in the seats along the 50 yard line or in the end zone to see who the true fans are.  When was the last time he had a 40 plus year season ticket holder in his box as a thank you for all the years of dedicated to the team?  I am sure never.  That is something you will never see.  A team owner bringing regular fans into his owner’s box as a good gesture of thank you.  Only the ones who are high profile client’s, high profile friends (Michael Douglas), or anyone else that looks good on camera.  If he has brought up sick kids or ones associated with a charity then that is a good sign.

I guess what I am trying to say through all this and the Pink Floyd reference is that I do not forget those who helped to being the New York Jets to where they are today.  This documentary is about them and their dedication.  I am not giving them just one day or thanks but a film dedicated to them, and my father.  Thanking them for their years of service to a team who has not won a Super Bowl in over 40 years.  The Jets have the longest drought of winning a championship than any other New York area professional team.  The Nets won the ABA championship in the 1970′s and I am counting that.  A highlight reel with their moments, something no professional team has ever done for fans.

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I do not think any team, including the Jets have a fan relations coordinator.  Someone who is the link between the fans and the team.  This is something that is needed.  These teams need to keep in mind if there were no fans, they would have no one to play in front of.  No sponsors, no endorsements, just a bunch of guys playing ball.  The fans are the ones who make professional sports a success.  They are the ones who should be thanked in more ways than one.  Not thanked because of how big their wallet is.  I guess it is up to me to thank the Jets fans for their years of dedication.  Their years of coming to cold weather games sitting outside when the team was 4-12.  It takes a fan to thank the fans.

Giants Stadium Is Gone. What Next?

Some notable New York Jets news over the past week.  Darelle Revis will attend training camp despite not having a new contract.  D’Brickashaw Ferguson signed a new six year deal with the Jets as well.  Not to mention the New York Jets will be on HBO’s Hard Knocks in a few weeks.  Seems the team has some good news going for them before the preseason starts.  But the tune may change once the season begins.  They still have yet to sell all of the PSL’s and thousands still remain unsold.  Many long time ticket holders will not cave in and many still have yet to find the money to afford them.  Even with the lower prices and payment plans many can not afford it, including me.  I am in the midst of looking for full time work and it is like looking for a needle in a stack of needles.  Anyone know of anyone hiring or they are hiring themselves, contact me.  Shameless plug, I know.

The documentary will be done filming at the end of the 2010 season.  No reason to go past the first year at the new MEadowlands Stadium.  Already have had a few people ask what I will be writing about not just when the season is over, but now that the old stadium is gone.  I have written for weeks now about the old stadium and many seem I may not have much to write about.  I could write about the Jets like everyone else does.  news updates, draft prospects, Twitter feeds, and everything else every other blog writes about.  I just like to be different.  I tried doing the news thing but I prefer to write what is on my mind and what goes on in life.  I may decide to write about the Jets in future posts if the news is worth writing about.  I am just not the type to devote an entire article on why Darelle Revis should be paid what he is asking and pump the article full of stats.

I read a lot of blogs dedicated to Jets news and fan posts.  But I prefer to cover all aspects of the Jets, even the news that some media outlets will not reports about.  Let’s face it, the main media outlets skirt the PSL issue a lot.  Why is that?  Because they still want locker room access, field level access, and all the access they need to report the team first hand.  They know if they report the Jets in a bad light or too much negative press they will not be allowed to cover the team anymore.  Someone like me they do not like because I answer to myself.  My documentary is something only I have control over when it comes to editing and content.  They know they have no control over it and can not sway me.  What will they do?  Stop me from going to events?  I am sure I am on their radar, but only a small blip.

The Jets fan blogs also cover the Jets and their players in a positive light.  Not too many of them would cover the Jets in a negative light.  They are all Gang Green fans and would not do that.  The only posts I have read on blogs that paint the Jets in a negative light would be the PSL’s, nothing else.  Might bad mouth some trades or front office decisions, but they do not cross the line enough.  I think I am the only Jets fan who sees the organization and writes about them in an honest light.  I do not hold back or cover what the truth may be.  Even Fireman Ed knows how the media will not cover the Jets in a bad light so they continue to get their press access to the team and events.  We talked about that off camera.

I guess I will keep writing about the Jets in the future and what business decisions they make.  I have already started down that path so why turn back now.  From doing this documentary, I stepped over the line and view football as both a fan and as an unbiased reporter.  I still cheer on the Jets players but at the same time find business decisions they make to be ridiculous.  It is hard to go both ways with a team I grew up following.  Both ways, funny, I know.  It is hard to be a fan and a reporter of a team you love.  One part wants to cheer and write nothing but great things but another side wants to be honest and report about the truth.  The truth everyone should know that many turn their head to.  No business wants any bad news to get out there about their company.  But people deserve to know everything, even if the truth is harsh and it makes a company look bad.  There is never good news all the time.  People need to make their own decision based off all angles, good and bad.

I enjoy writing.  I like to speak my ind and go from the gut.  Sometimes I speak about my documentary, the Jets, the old stadium, myself and anything else that seems newsworthy.  But sometimes I like to write about my life, my stories, what I think makes a great story.  I guess that is why I like to write.  There is so much going around in my mind I just need to get it all out and not hold back.  Maybe that is why some of my other posts deal with family and fans I have met over the past few years.  I like telling their stories on top of mine.  People should hear more than what is reported in the media and the blog nation is one of the best places to find them.  I would like to find more Jets blogs that talk more from the heart rather than re-reporting the news.

Giants Stadium Demolition: Still Standing Around

Well, today I ventured back to the place I was told i could not go back to.  I could go back, just not take pictures.  But I did take pictures today.  I know what I said before.  I knew I could not go back onto the premises to take pictures.  But no one said anything about taking pictures from off the premises.  I just went to the same location s I went to when I first started taking pictures.  I had been thinking about it for a few weeks now.  Others found it ludicrous that someone could actually be told they could no longer take pictures.  There was no law being broken.  Just an unwritten one they put into place themselves.   Wanted to keep fans, especially people like me away.

I went over to a friend’s today to pick up the camera.  Billy Tooma has been gracious enough to lt me borrow it when I need it.  I was going to use it this Saturday for the NJ Revolutions vs Harrisburg Stampede indoor football game at the Sun Center in Trenton, NJ.  Kick off is 7:30.  But Billy and I had been mulling over the idea about going back and taking long distance shots with the telephoto lens.  I really did not think the Skanska supervisor was going to come all the way across Route 3 on his ATV.  I would be lying if I said my heart was not racing driving over.  The spots I was in on and off the highway made it easy not to be seen.  Except one location on Rte 120.  Hard not to be seen there.  I did not get out of the car though.  Flew a stealth mission so to speak.

The main structure is up between Gates D and C.  So are the spirals.  There is a big gaping hole where the Press Box elevators were.  Plus a few end zone sections came down.  The second of both jumbo-trons are now down as well.  If you drive past it each day you know what I am referring to.  Fireman Ed said he can not wait until it is all gone.  He thought they should have blown it up and did it all in one shot.  I have included pictures from previous shoots so you can see the progress.  Many can not wait until it is gone.  Many did not think it needed to go.  But everyone will share stories, say how much they miss it,  and enjoyed going to games there.

Taken May 17
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Taken May 23
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Taken June 10
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Taken May 19
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Taken May 20
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Taken June 10
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Fireman Ed Anzalone Lets His Hair Down & Talks His Passion

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Ed Anzalone.  Better know to football  and Jets fans as Fireman Ed.  Myself and Matt Nackson went to his house in Northern New Jersey.  Not going to say where he lives because he keeps a low profile in the area.  Ed was a great guy to sit down with from beginning to end.  Many fans have this preconceived perception of him being this crazy, unfriendly, rabid Jets fan who does whatever the Jets organization tells him to do.  I did not find that to be the case.  I went into this with no preconceived notions or thoughts.  I only met the man twice before so I could not have the opinions everyone else has about Ed.  He is just passionate about his team and it shows.

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Ed grew up a casual fan in Queens, NY before meeting his wife and moving out to NJ.  There was a misconception he grew up as a Miami Dolphins fan before becoming a Jets fan.  He was never really a big football fan.  He was seen in a picture as a kid wearing a Dolphins sweater a relative brought back from Florida for him.  Ed playing football in high school but was a casual fan of the NFL.  An old schoolmate saw the picture and that was how it got started.  It was not until his older brother brought him to his first game in 1976 at Shea Stadium which ignited the spark that set off the New York Jets explosion in his heart.  Since that game, he has not looked back at becoming a true fan of the New York Jets.

Ed goes into depth about the famed “Jets chant”.  Myself like many others knew it was not started by Ed and Ed talks about the chant’s originators.  The chant was started at Shea before it was brought to Giants Stadium, Ed calls it the Meadowlands not giving any mention of the other New York team who plays there.  It was brought to the stadium by an officer and fireman.  I did not write the names down since it is all on a memory card.  Can’t even say “I got it on tape” anymore when you use a digital camera.  There needs to be a new saying.  “I have it stored” could become, who knows.  Anyway, back to the chant.  Once it was brought over from Shea it was done in the Upper Tier.  One on each side, answering the other after they chanted.  My father and I were in Section 226, it was to our upper right.

After a while one of the guys did not make it to too many games and it died off.  Ed thought it should have been kept going.  Ed says it started with a few in the lower section and just grew and grew.  He would just stand on the edge railing in Section 134 to get more attention until he almost fell off one game.  His legs kept him hanging before his brother suggested he get on his shoulders.  From there it just grew and grew.  Ed credits Chris Berman for giving him the “Fireman” nickname.  Chris was thinking of what to call him when a clip of Ed was on his game reviews.  Since I can not review the footage in front of me, I believe Chris did not know he was a fireman.

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Fireman Ed  is just another fan like everyone else.  He is just a more well know fan.  It could have been someone else in any section that could have done it, Ed just was more passionate and kept the chant going.  Ed talks about his relationship with the Jets.  Ed paid for a PSL like everyone else.  He will be in the end zone once the 2010 season gets underway.  Players and others have given out jerseys, invites to luncheons, and other Jets events.  Some good perks when you can get 40,000-60,000 screaming Jets fans to get their team fired up.  I would take the same stuff in that position.  Ed has been generous and given merchandise that was given to him to sick children.  He has visited children at certain tailgates and away from the stadium.  He said he has given away more that he can remember.

Ed was also not a fan of PSL’s, who is?  He saw the change coming years ago when fan’s were already being distracted by othr “entertainment” around them at the Meadowlands.  People on cell phone’s, wanting to throw a beach ball, checking out girls, and other distractions that take their attention away from the game.  Now the distractions are everywhere you turn pretty much is what I think.  Even Ed, who can be nice and take pictures, just wants to watch the game too.  If the play is 4th & 1, 3rd and 1, do not ask for a pictures then.  As much as he wants to take that picture, he wants to see the green and white push forward and get that first down.  That can be where some do not like him, just asking at the wrong times.  If you are there to take a picture and can not wait until a timeout or intermission, you may not be there to see the game.  I do not even go to the bathroom until halftime.

Thee is more about his talk on the West Side Stadium, the player, the organization, his Jets memories, and more.  If I gave everything away now, there would  be no need to put it in the documentary.  I may tell some more down the line if I can get some footage of Fireman Ed at a Jets event.  Will be going down to Trenton next weekend for the next NJ Revolutions game.  They are facing the Harrisburg Stampede.  Part of the Harrisburg team is owned by the owners and creators of the league.  See if I can get a little face time with them. Will have more on the NJ Revolution soon. To find out more go to NJRevs.com.

New York Jets Pep Rally at the Atlantic Health Training Center in Florham Park New Jersey

New York Jets Pep Rally Atlantic Health Training Center Florham Park New Jersey - Fans

Today was absolute madness. I arrived at the training center around 8:30am and already the fans were starting to line up. Im hurrying up to edit video of the event so here are some pictures for you guys to start off but keep checking back or follow me on twitter and I will notify you when the video of the pep rally is up. thank you all your fans for your kind words and support of my site. Please make sure you also visit http://www.levysbakeryproductions.com hes one of the most die hard jet fans I know and the Producer of all our content for the Jets.
New York Jets Pep Rally Atlantic Health Training Center Florham Park New Jersey - Fans

New York Jets Pep Rally Atlantic Health Training Center Florham Park New Jersey - Fans

New York Jets Pep Rally Atlantic Health Training Center Florham Park New Jersey - Fireman Ed

New York Jets Pep Rally Atlantic Health Training Center Florham Park New Jersey - Fans

New York Jets Pep Rally Atlantic Health Training Center Florham Park New Jersey - Fireman Ed

New York Jets rally Videos NJ Training Center Sept 12, 2009

Well, I went to the New York Jets training facility in East Hanover this morning.  I got there nice and early to wait with other Jets fans outside the gates.  Had a chance to speak with Fireman Ed who was there to show his support for Gang Green.  We had a chance to talk about the documentary and might be sitting down to go over the Jets soon.  The rain did not damper the spirits of the fans that came out.  Many of the kids were able to play and bounce on several of the inflatable play areas.  The Hanover Park High School marching band was there to provide the music.

Several hundred fans lined up in two areas to create a “tunnel” for the Jets to run down and slap everyones hands.  Everyone was stacked up shoulder to shoulder.  Some little kids managed to squeeze their way in to see the players.  Dustin Keller was one of the first to come down the tunnel followed by Rex Ryan, Thomas Jones, Nick Mangold, Kellen Clemens,  & Ryan Sanchez to name the ones that passed me.  They gave out free lotto tickets, key chains, and other promotional related stuff.  Everyone who came out had a great time and could not have spent a better rainy morning.

Fans coming in, Jets inflatable play areas, and the band

Kids playing, or waiting to play

Kids being kids…..hitting each other with inflatable sticks

Long time Jets fan Fireman Ed gets the fans psyched for the players

Bob Wischusen & The NY Jets Flight Crew prepare the fans

Bob Wischusen, Rex Ryan, and Kerry Rhodes speak and then the Jets give the fans what they wanted, the team! Dustin Keller, Rex Ryan, Nick Mangold, Kellen Clemens, and Mark Sanchez are a few you will see.