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NFL Play 60 Youth Football Festival/NFL Draft Media Event @ Chelsea Waterside Park

My first editing project! Last week’s NFL Play 60 event from the NFL Draft media day. A great event at Chelsea Waterside Park that was attended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Network’s Steve Mariucci, and former Dallas Cowboys Lavar Arington, Tony Casillas, and “Prime TimeDeion Sanders. All the top Draft prospects shared their time with the kids for a wonderful event. We get up close with Steve Mariucci, The Miami Dolphin‘s pick Deion Jordon, St. Louis Rams pick Tavon Martin, and the New York Jets pick Geno Smith. Also a few words from Prime Time himself, Deion Sanders.

NFL Play 60 Media Day April 24, 2013NFL Play 60 Media Day April 24, 2013NFL Play 60 Media Day April 24, 2013

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Video From The 1st Annual Fantasy Football Fest in Atlantic City, N.J.

This past August, I was in Atlantic City to cover the inaugural Fantasy Football Festival, a one-of-a-kind fantasy football experience according to the organizers, ReedPOP.  This was the first time any festival or convention was organized and catered around fantasy football.

DSC_4086ReedPOP, the production company behind New York Comic Con (the largest pop culture convention on the east coast), PAX, PAX East, UFC Fan Expo,  & Star Wars Celebration organized the festival.  ReedPOP is dedicated to producing celebrations of popular culture throughout the world that transcend ordinary events by providing unique access and dynamic personal experiences for consumers and fans, is organizing the festival.

It took a while to get the videos edited as my editor was finishing up college and graduating.  I should be able to edit videos faster in the near future so everyone can experience the events closer to when they happened.  When the NFL Draft comes around in a few months, you will not have to wait long to see and listen to the 2013 NFL Draft prospects.

We has to break the footage into two videos.  The first video features NY Giants Super Bowl MVP and Super Bowl XXV Champion Otis Anderson as well as teammate Howard Cross from that Super Bowl.  We get a few words from employees at Fathead, the makers of sports wall clings, some fans, the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders, HGTV star of Man Caves & Baltimore Ravens Tony Siragusa, and so much more.

The second video features an interview with ESPN Fantasy guru Matthew Berry and former NY Giants and Jets player Billy Taylor.  You can see a fantasy draft in progress and action from the passing and field goal interactive station.  Plus as a bonus added extra, a joke shared with former New York Giants QB and CBS sportscaster Phil Simms.Fun was had by all that attended and if ReedPop has this event later this year, I am sure they will get a similar turnout.

DSC_4254Also on the second video is an interview with the head chef who drives and operates Johnsonville’s Big Taste Grill.  This thing is the size of an 18 wheeler.  The ideal item for that July the BBQ.  Johnsonville was there as part of the tailgating section of the event.

Thank you to Dr. Bill Chackes, Managing Partner of Football Reporters Online for asking me to cover the event and to incorporate my own unique style of sports media coverage into this fun, humorous, and a little sarcastic video.  Dr. Bill only asked for the first part.

Now keep in mind, these videos were shot in August of 2012 the weekend of the Jets vs. Giants preseason game.  So the topics range from preseason form, the Jets acquisition of Tim Tebow, Chad Johnson, Eli Manning, and so much more.

So enjoy watching the Fantasy Football Fest.  There was some footage not added, that could be used to create more videos in the next few months.  Come back often to find out.

My article from August about the Fantasy Football Fest.  More details about the event and pictures can be found there.

 

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2012 New York Jets Fans Fiscal Year Report

After the events of today, the Jets have ended their season in glorious fashion.  Jon Gruden said it best on the Jets final play against the Titans.  It was just ugly.  Their season was ugly and how fitting that their season should end on a fumble by Mark Sanchez.  The Jets have 50 turnovers over the past two seasons, the most of any NFL team.

Ugly, huh?

2012 has truly not been a banner year for the Jets organization.  For the fans, it has been even worse.  Year after year of promises, free agent signings, and supposed surprises, the fans have really had enough.  The Gang Green Piper needs to change his tune in order to get the fans back on board.  At a point fans were energized about the team’s future, investing in PSL‘s.  After this season, many are looking for a loophole to get out of their commitments or sell them outright.

This is not every fan.  Many dedicated Jets faithful will be back for another season next year.  Sending out their payments in mid 2013 to make sure they are in attendance for the start of another roller coaster ride.  Others I talk to have had enough and want off.  They have had enough of the ups and downs and just want to be a casual observer from their couch.

I know you may be shaking your head in regards to a fiscal year when it comes to the New York Jets.  They are not a public company.  No records to show on sales or growth.  Not even on which Jets season ticket holders have been with them for years and which ones are first time PSL holders.  There is little to no information on what true numbers the Jets organization has on their books by the end of the 2012 fiscal year.

The PSL is the stock Certificate and tickets are options.

You need to view this from a different perspective.  From the outlook of the fan investor.  The one who takes his hard earned money and decides each year that this recreational activity is worth the time and the investment.  Was the money laid out received back in a way that could rival a stock split or dividend.  Did you get full entertainment value for that dollar? 

In essence, the Jets fans fiscal year begins and ends with the NFL season.  Sixteen weeks, four months, four quarters to analyze the product and its value by the fans.  Their investment into a franchise that needs ticket income in order  to survive.  Just ask the Jacksonville Jaguars how important ticket sales are.

Every investor varies.  There are those with enough disposable income where this can be afforded as a luxury and necessity.  The choice to indulge in one’s favorite pastime as football is a life source of socializing and networking for a certain ticket holding investor.

Then you have those who have to save for a bit to enjoy days tailgating and getting frenzied up hard-nosed action.  The investor who puts years in and sees no ROI.  Each time seeing their hard-earned money, being invested in a product that raises expectations and then lowers their future outlook.  Somehow, to a few of these fans held over from Shea Stadium, “New and Improved” always feels like “Old and Inferior”.

Before the season even started, the Jets made their presence known with the signing of Tim Tebow.  We do not gave to go into a back story on his signing, activity, and his on field play.  It has been well documented by the media since the start of the season.  Expectations were high on Tim Tebow.  The Wildcat talk and much else kept his stock and overall use high. 

But as we all know, his on field play and use angered many and overall value made fans sigh with disappointment.  Weather his acquisition was because of Woody Johnson wanting to sell tickets or because Tony Sporano wanted him to help the Wildcat, it did not sell tickets.  But it did sell quite a bit of Jets merchandise & focus quite a bit of cameras on Gang Green.  In a way, Woody got a little of what he wanted.

Bottom line, the investment in Tebow did not equal the output expected by the team and the fans.  This added to  Jets fans having a bad fiscal year.

It seemed the Jets suffered more injuries than Evel Knievel.  Sorry Travis Pastrana fans, he still has a way to go to catch Evel! But from the start of the season when Darelle Revis went down then Santonio Homes, it seemed more and more kept piling up on the IR or PUP lists.  The revolving doors affected the Jets all season.  Dustin Keller could not find his groove with Mark Sanchez as in seasons passed to put points on the board. 

A sure sign of a Jets down economy

Jets performance in the first and second quarter were volatile.  There was no indication of a strong rebound to bring certain investors back to MetLife Stadium.  Projections for the second half remained optimistic, but with a team built more like a fantasy team than a NFL franchise with depth, many annalists were projecting a Wild Card at best.

Once the second half of the Jets fans fiscal year came about there was a slight climb in their value.  Once Thanksgiving showed its head, the team fell back into a slide.  Mark Sanchez and his play made that stock almost seem worthless.  His removal felt like a company taking out its CEO and getting someone in their fast to turn the ship around.  Greg McElroy stepped up in a loss to only receive a concussion which brings Sanchez back to a chorus of boos.  S

Stub Hub, the NFL Ticket Exchange, and other third-party ticket websites offer a certain market for season ticket holders.  A “stock exchange” of sorts where fans will sell their tickets for a certain value.  During the month of December, Jets tickets were being sold for less than $10.  The Jets received face value for those tickets.  The Jets season ticket holder would be considered lucky to even get 25% of face value in the month of December.  A month where fans might hope to make a profit on their tickets, can not.

What Woody Johnson has done to the season ticket holders  is beyond reproach.. The Jets have the highest average, non-premium ticket price in the league at $117.94, according to Team Marketing Report’s Fan Cost Index. That is on top of personal seat licenses for all of those except the upper deck. 

If you look at the individual average per PSL holder assuming a minimum of two seats and a parking pass, the average season ticket holder is laying out an average of 275 per game, based on the above numbers,  before they even get to the stadium.  Lump in their PSL payment for the year  and APR if they decided not to pay for their PSL in full. 

The Jets are handling the financing of their PSL’s.  So that 6.5% or 8% that you pay to finance your PSL’s, goes right to the Jets as well.  Getting their little extra.

What exactly have Jets fans received back as ROI for that?

A preseason with no touchdowns. Regular-season losses by 34, 30 and 21 points. Parking aggravation. Cursing in the stands being seen on YouTube. And the biggest distraction in the league at backup quarterback.  None of this did anything to raise the value of on field play for fans to get behind the performance.

Not to mention Johnson begging the NFL to give the Jets a home game on Thanksgiving, ruining the holiday for his fans.   It is no wonder the Jets have been pushing advertising and commercials all over every piece of media they could to sell tickets.  Radio, television, websites, and more try to get fans interested in being a season ticket holder investor.

To the long time season ticket holder who gave their seats up to be armchair quarterbacks, the lure of penny stock  seats in the 300 section was not enough to make them venture out and be a part of what they once loved to do in the blazing heat and freezing cold.  To them, the tide changed, it is not the same.  It will never be the same and they did not want to move ahead with the change.  Instead opting to watch from a distance and spend their hard money elsewhere.

The Jets were 3-5 at home.  37.5% of their games were won at home.  Not a far return given the product on the field and the layout fans make each year in the country’s top market.  This with the highest ticket rates per average does not add up to a worthwhile venture. 

To the grizzled, tough skinned, dedicated fan, it still is though.  Still going so they can say they were there in the bad and the good.  The ones willing to pay any price to support their team in the flesh.  Patiently standing on the sidelines, in the hopes this turnaround happens in their lifetime.

It will, just a matter of when.  Do not make us wait longer than Rangers fans.

In today’s final game of the season, Mark Sanchez looked like a man with no confidence.  How could one make the best decisions in clutch situations in that frame of mind?

 Is that the kind of individual one would want leading a public company while the company’s stock is plummeting?  Someone not up to the task to the best of the ability needed to hold such a position?

I think not.

Do not let this happen, Woody.

Then the fans who have invested time and hard-earned money year after year should not put up with it.  At least stockholders have a voice in who should be leading that company.  It is time Woody Johnson had an open forum to listen to his stockholders.

The Jets have a large mountain to climb to turn this franchise around for the better.  It will not happen overnight, but more correct decisions sooner rather than later.  For the sake of your fan investor and the ones who hold off investing, do what is right for them.  Maybe then, that on field product might be enough to attract those fans rather than the blast style marketing. 

Jets fans were good this year.  They deserve a great gift to be proud of.  One that they will remember receiving the rest of their life.  Not a big shiny, well decorated, ornamental, box that it all comes in.

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What Makes One a Die-Hard or Dedicated Sports Fan

It has been an amazing season in the NFL.  I have not seen so many quarterback injuries and line up changes as I have seen this year.  The Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons have been leading the way not seen by their own fans let alone football fans in general.  RGIII and Andrew Luck providing their fans with a level of rookie excitement to fuel their desire to remain devoted to their team.

Every fan knows what it feels like for their team to endure a losing season.  Some fans know this better than others.  Look at the Cleveland Browns fans.  I think they have been waiting longer than many NFL fans for their team to shape up and make some run for a playoff game.  The Cleveland Browns have one of the most storied franchises in football.  I think they have waited longer than many.

We New York Jets fans have been though losing season more than we have witnessed winning seasons.  Every year we shake the Etch-A-Sketch in hopes that this year will be OUR year.  The year we make it into the playoffs and go all the way.  A chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy and show our big brother Giants that the Jets are capable of winning it all.

We have been through worse.  Jets faithful have been through a 1-15 season during the Rich Kotite era that ended in disaster.  Things could always be worse, but we expect them to be better.

This has been a tumultuous season for Gang Green and their fans.  Many felt let down by the team in their performance while other continue to support them and attend games, even in the face of jeers, boos, and the hope that the Jets will pull one out at home.  Which, they did this past Sunday against the Cardinals.

Even at the Cardinals game, before McElroy came in the fans let their presence be known.  Every fan voiced their opinion in that game.  Even though the stadium looked like Swiss cheese it was still a loud stadium.  The noise of Jets fans was something to be noted as it went in both directions.  From those who wanted to see them win while others figured these “same old Jets” would just lose.  I am glad they did not lose.

Even through fans disappointments and accolades, some believe they are more of a fan than others.  I keep hearing how some believe they are a “die-hard” fan.  That because they bleed green and show up to every game, that makes them a die-hard fan.  Sorry to say but it does not.

Here is a true definition of the term  “die-hard”:
die-hard also die·hard (dhärd)

adj.  Stubbornly resisting change or clinging to a seemingly hopeless or outdated cause.

n. One who stubbornly resists change or tenaciously adheres to a seemingly hopeless or outdated cause:

In regards to the true definition, One who believes they are a die-hard fan of the Jets could be using the term out of context.  I found this in a certain case.

On Facebook with a Jets blogger, he said that because he purchased his season tickets year after year does not make him stupid, it makes him a die-hard fan.

Does it?

No, It doesn’t.  If you buy tickets year after year in hope of change and that the team will be better means you are dedicated, not a die-hard fan.  A die-hard fan would be in support of the current product as it is.  Resisting how things could be better but in turn, keeps cheering along its current path.

They may wear bags, but they have tickets. Dedication?

 

A dedicated fan would buy tickets year after year, support changes in the organization, and be a rock where others slowly fade away.  A dedicated fan of the Jets have been their backbone since the 1060′s.  The one’s who come back even in the face of adversity and losses.

Here is the true definition of “dedicated”:

ded·i·cat·ed  [ded-i-key-tid]

adjective    1. wholly committed to something, as to an ideal, political cause, or personal goal: a dedicated artist.

So in actuality, if you support the Jets in their present form and you keep looking for change to be positive, you are a dedicated fan.  If you want to see Mark Sanchez remain the starting QB from now until the end of his contract, you are a die-hard fan.

I believe some fans need to know the difference before they decide what term describe them most.

A person who is a fan of the Baltimore Colts or Brooklyn Dodgers today is a die-hard fan.  Being a fan of both teams from then until present days makes you a dedicated fan.

Remembering all the stats from the past fifteen years makes you a dedicated fan.

Creating a blog, Twitter account, and Facebook page to update fans in real time about the team you have been a childhood fan of for years makes you a dedicated fan.

Dressing up in paint and nothing else in 20 degrees below zero weather makes you a dedicated fan.

Packing your tailgate with your teams merchandise, wearing your teams colors every game, and buying seats year in and year out makes you a dedicated fan.  It does not mean you are more dedicated than someone else because you opt to spend more.

Anyone  who is still a Jets fan through all the team’s ups and downs, no matter who is on the field, makes everyone a true dedicated fan.  We need to be considering the roller coaster they have had us on for over forty years.  Only true, dedicated fans would stay behind a New York team like the Jets.  Ask Mets fans about dedication.

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Torch Passed To Lower Class of Jets Tailgating

This past Sunday I went to my first Jets tailgate of the season.  Not game, tailgate.  I have not attended a game in the new MetLife Stadium.  Have had no desire to lay anything out to watch a team make their fans invest and suffer more than a Facebook stockholder.

Now I may not have the experience and knowledge to go in depth about some problems the team has on the field I can sure talk about off field happenings.  Especially when it comes to tailgating.

For the first time I paid to be in a stadium lot rather than walk over from the Sheraton.  We did have to walk over from the Izod using the cattle bridge but at least we were among the Jets tailgating faithful.  While making the trek from the Izod to the J & L yellow parking section,s I noticed a few things that made my heart sank as a Jets fan and tailgating analyst (made up title, I know).

The fisrt thing that was not just obvious, but rampant was the garbage left in the lots after tailgating.  I am not talking about after the game, I am talking about after tailgating leading into kick off.  It was disgusting.  Empty bottles strewn, half filled garbage bags left to collapse, and half eaten food noticeably in the lane of traffic.

One tailgate in L5 even left their entire set up available to all.  Not just some sandwiches left on the table, but an open van, DJ equipment, speakers, a popcorn machine,  and more just left unattended as if to say “take me”.

Now there was a tailgate across from the unattended one that was watching the game from their tailgate.  But it is not their responsibility to watch over another tailgates gear.  Either clean up or do not set up.
DSC06946
Now I know a good portion of the port-a-potty’s have been taken away, that does not mean one should relieve themselves in the parking lot between cars.  Have more class than that.  Either use a port-a-john or head to the weeds/brush.  You make yourself and others around you look classless.

When the PSL’s were first offered, a large fall off of season ticket holders did not carry over to MetLife Stadium.  Many of these ticket holders could trace their ticket roots to the Polo Grounds or Shea Stadium.  A wave of younger, more active, social conscious tailgater came to the forefront.

A few of the tailgates we passed seemed to keep partying going from the night before in Hoboken.  Complete with music pushed to eleven and dancing.  Now I can understand loud music to get ready for a game.  Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters, AC/DC,  and other music like that.  I just can’t see club music as the style to motivate warriors.

DSC_1583

L7 sets up fast and cleans up faster

My wife en pointed out one or two that couldn’t hold it together.  One guy couldn’t be considerate and hold a girls hair so she does not get vomit on it.  Not a true gentleman.  Tailgating before a game should not have to get to that point.
No one is saying to not crank it up and have a blast.  Just do it in a way that does not draw unwanted attention to yourself & your friends.  The Jets have a proud tradition of loyalty from their fans.  Many still remember the days of the Titans at the Polo Grounds.

Tailgating has been about a ritual of great food, friends, and brew to drive us crazy for an upcoming battle.  If it was meant to bring the club to the parking lot complete with annoying music, binge drinking, & certain fans who really seem to be there for the party and not for the game, then the winds of change barely made a faint wisp.

One was able to notice a change in the tailgating climate once Giants Stadium fell.  Many that I knew and had been to for my documentary did not make the change.  Their tickets or seats purchased by a younger ticket holder.  The new element that has taken over the transition of tailgating in the color coded lots.

The socially connected fan who remains wired, in network, ,or addicted to wi-fi in any situation.  Tweeting by the minute or Instagraming a picture, booty shaking on the trailer.  I can remember when tailgating was about tailgating.

Go, have a great time, make some new friends, and feast away.  Just act accordingly and don’t give a reason to bring forth unwanted attention to you and others around you.  Personally, why would one want to give other fans a reason to speak worse about them than they already do.

Tomorrow night the Jets take on the 4-0 Houston TexansMonday Night Football games are in prime-time and so are the ans.  Have a tailgate that makes the SportsCenter Top 10, not the Not Top 10.  Even though some of that stuff is funny.  Have others laugh with you, not at you.  Now that’s memorable.

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What Ride Are We On As Football Fans

There seems to be a connection between professional sports and a certain euphoria we get from our teams.  Sometimes we experience the highs and some times, the lows.  We experience this rush of adrenaline, emotion, and endorphins that work us up into a frenzy not seen since Bruce Banner and The Incredible Hulk

Call it what you will.  But we all pay some amount to maintain this feeling on a weekly basis.  Some pay to enjoy it in the safety of their home while various others dish out numerous amounts at the stadium to get their fix.  During tailgating and the game.

And just because one lays out more from their wallet does not mean their high is any better.  We all experience the same roller coaster ride of emotions equally no matter we each pay out.

We as fans get a rush from attending a game.   Sometimes the drug kicks in at tailgating.  Firing into a frenzy before the fireworks go off in the stadium. By the time inside, the high is contagious it spreads to everyone. When the action starts, its phase two.  Riding its ups and downs like a bad acid trip. Not knowing if it will end in a high or low.

But we come back for more.  They always know we will.  Every time.  At times we know the disappointment but we want to be surprised.  Let the win sneak up on us.  The rush is better that way instead of being fed it slowly through an IV.

For a long time it seemed the fans mattered.  The teams seem to know our pulse and at times, act accordingly.  The NFL treats the rest like addicts, knowing no matter their urge they will always tune in and be sucked into another Sunday vortex of advertising and football.

We all have a vice.  That one item that draws us in like a vacuum and we let it take us to our own personal state of euphoria.  But those who know what their audiences vice is, they exploit it to no end.  No matter the bad trip they throw at you, you keep focused wondering when the ride will get better.  Chasing the dragon in hopes of catching it.

Eventually we do, we grasp it hard and take pride in the accomplishment.  Knowing that our hard work and dedication to not only our team, but the sport we love will pay off.  Pumping our endorphins to heights we rarely see.  Rejoicing with others while sporting our warriors victorious colors.

There was a time when the fans voice really mattered.  When we could be heard before the marketing and advertising became louder and more dominant.  When it was the AFL against the NFL, they did everything they could to keep their fans.  The same needs to be done now.

We can see past the blinders they choose to acknowledge.  We know the difference between a quality product and when someone is trying to sell us a bill of goods.  The NFL is selling us baby powder instead of the high quality product they usually serve us each week.

We had a chance.  The fans and the critics had a chance to make a mark on the NFL.  But they knew their mistake long after we saw it pass us weeks ago.  Even with a deal made, reputations in the NFL are tarnished.  The NFL needs the Army as a clean up crew.  They re lazied it one blown call too late.  Ask Green Bay.

The fans collective conscious will never let the NFL forget the mistakes they made.  Not just to them, but to the players as well for creating havoc and stress in the workplace.  It seems the NFL offices are up just high enough in NYC where screams only come across as faint whispers, making it hard to hear the problems until it is too late.

And that, I think, was the handle – that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of old and evil.  Not in any mean or military sense; we as fans never look towards that.  The referees only wanted to work.  Our energy would simply prevail. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.  Using social media to voice displeasure and create a wave of force to be heard.

But now, driving on Route 3 East towards NYC, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark, that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back allowing the NFL to remain dominant and make all the right calls.

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Jets Tailgating Takes Flight Before Any Kick Off

Smell that?

Don’t get closer to your screen, what the hell is that going to do?

But there is a certain aroma, slowly being pulled in all directions by the passing winds.  If you concentrate hard enough, focus your senses, and tune in your palate you might be able to solve the quandary of what that is making you salivate more than a bulldog with a t bone steak.

DSC06894It is called opening day tailgating.  The central focus for many Jets fans hours before the opening kick off.  Some can sense the anticipation in the air and draw their energy from it for the day.

For some, adrenaline is what keeps them going from the moment they load their car until they get home.  Many draw their energy from their friends and other fans tailgating around them.  For the rest, they get it from 5 Hour Energy.

Anticipation builds each day like an internal fire.  It grows and grows until there is no containing it anymore.  At some point, opening day has to come to release the energy that has been building for weeks.  Energy that not only creates a spectacle for tailgating, but to assist the Jets from the stands towards a victory.

From burgers to brauts, steak to shrimp, and beer to…..beer, Jets fans can not wait until Sunday.  Facebook, Twitter, and every other social media application and some currently in development are being jammed with Jets fans eager to get the season started.

DSC07183Some tailgating groups use social media to not just set up their tailgate but to attract new tailgaters to their pack.  The L7 Tailgate was founded on Twitter and continues to grow with new members who only meet eight times a year.  More if there will ever be a home playoff.

Many from L7 meet in the off season and tweet on to be great friends.  It shows that distance and eight games will not stop those who feel the need to have that tailgate feeling all year.

I have walked from one end of the stadium parking to the other.  I even ventured over Route 120 and still made it back to the L5 tailgate in time for kick off.  Iver that distance, I have sampled my fair share of tailgating cuisine, Blacktop BBQ, and assorted Jets themed drinks.

DSC07192That first game of the season has a certain feel to it.  Fans wait over eight months to come out of hibernation and seek out pigskin glory.  Take this two ways.  Glory for the team winning on the field and having winning flavorful, tender ribs off the field.

The excitement for the battle in the stadium builds throughout tailgating.  The tension is so thick one can cut it with a Jets flag.  Random J-E-T-S chants, whistles, and all sorts of inspirational celebrating is done to help inspire the 13th man.

We gather like warriors, celebrating our bravest who fight for their faithful followers on the gridiron.  We rejoice with plenty of meat, brew, and pride before watching our green and white gladiators battle before our eyes.  Praying they return to us with a victory.

Every Jets fan feels that excitement.  That this year will be different from the last.  That not only will Gang Green return to the AFC Championship, but to the Super Bowl this time.  Opening day tailgating bring about that excitement more than any other home game.

DSC06932Tailgating is about friends and family.  It gives us time to see those we do not normally see.  To share stories of battles gone by to younger generations.  We bring new members into the circle to spread the word on how damn great our tailgate is.  These are the moments we cherish because it makes us smile in a way only those in attendance can understand.

Every man who can flip a burger or time a steak right has another moment to prove they are the Baron of BBQ, the General of grilling, or the culinary charcoal genius that makes everyone salivate when they see you preparing the days feast.  But behind every great man is a woman muttering under her breath so faint only the grill man can hear.

Laugh or roll your eyes all you want men, we know it to be true.  Doesn’t mean  we listen, but it is true.

So as you prepare to make whatever trek you have to take to get the the Meadowlands, keep the faith.  As tomorrow only starts the first of eight battles on our home turf.  Have the strength to tailgate on even n the face of a losing season.

That is what makes true Jet fans have the best stories to tell to the ones we plan on leaving our season tickets to.

Inaugural Fantasy Football Fest Fumbles The Ball, But Room To Improve

Last weekend I was in Atlantic City to cover the inaugural Fantasy Football Festival, a one-of-a-kind fantasy football experience according to the organizers, ReedPOP.  This was the first time any festival or convention was organized and catered around fantasy football.

DSC_4086ReedPOP, the production company behind New York Comic Con (the largest pop culture convention on the east coast), PAX, PAX East, UFC Fan Expo,  & Star Wars Celebration organized the festival.  ReedPOP is dedicated to producing celebrations of popular culture throughout the world that transcend ordinary events by providing unique access and dynamic personal experiences for consumers and fans, is organizing the festival.

Headlining the festival were Philadelphia Eagles’ stars Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy, New York Giants’ greats Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor, former Washington Redskins QB Joe Theismann, NFL Hall of Famers Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith and Chris Doleman, Super Bowl XXV MVP Ottis Anderson, ESPN Fantasy Expert Matthew Berry and others as they participated in autograph signings, panel discussions and fan Q&A sessions throughout the weekend.

DSC_4091Aside from hosting your own fantasy draft live from the AC Convention Center with your friends, the inaugural festival in AC had a number of activities and special events throughout the weekend including fantasy expert round tables, video game tournaments, interactive athletic competitions (punt, pass, kick, sports memorabilia, & a tailgate party and beer tasting.

To read more about the festival and future events, you can visit their website at www.fantasyfootballfest.com.

Last Thursday night at 9 PM before the event, I was on the weekly Football Reporters Online BlogTalk Radio program interviewing our guest, Greg Topalian, ReedPOP’s Senior VP.  Gregg was excited about the coming event.  He mentioned the radio spots they ran, posting flyers on the boardwalk, and plastering any information about the event where ever they could.

Greg also mentioned how ticket sales were going very well and about 25000 tickets for the festival had either been sold or given out by the radio stations.  From all the information provided it sounded like the inaugural event was going to be a hot ticket in town.

DSC_4092But from those who attended, the event turned out to be a great effort rather than a memorable weekend.  Even Phil Simms could not wait to leave.  More on that later.

Day one started with about 25-30 fans waiting outside for he 10 AM opening.  I had this vision of a long line, maybe 100-150 people standing outside.  Chomping at the bit to get inside for a memorable fantasy football experience where one can also buy some memorabilia and meet some players for an autograph or two.

It was memorable all right, but not in the good way some may have liked.  By the time one was in the door, there was enough time and room to get everything done fast. Which many did.  Not many attended for fantasy football reasons.  Many came in and got the autographs they wanted and left.

Now some did come for fantasy football, but by the time the inquiries were done there was not much left to do.  Even though they had panels, fantasy football drafts on site, and video game stations lined up with Xbox & PS3 with Madden and NCAA football games, it was not enough to keep the patrons there.

The best part of the video game section was the original Nintendo Entertainment System with Super Techmo Bowl.  All one had to do was play as Bo Jackson to win the game.  Not a cheat, but a heavy advantage in the game.

There ere not many vendors inside as well.  There were a bunch of fantasy experts and websites to gain valuable knowledge from, but it was not enough to keep people there for an extended period.  After certain autographs were obtained, many fans left.  It seemed the players were more of a draw for some rather than learning how to draft your fantasy players.

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ESPN’s Matthew Berry & Philadelphia Eagles Michael Vick & LeSean McCoy

Over the two day period there were less than five fantasy drafts overall.  Tables were set up to handle at least 12-15 per day at a time.  The panels also drew little listeners.  The only panels people sat and listened to were to the Eagles cheerleaders doing trivia and when the Philadelphia Eagles Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, and ESPN‘s Fantasy Analyst Matthew Berry were taking questions.

Besides the typical fantasy booths like RotoExperts, FantasyGuru, Fantrax.com, Gameday Fantasy Football, and a slew of others, companies like Fathead, Steiner Sports Collectibles, Jack Links Beef Jerky, World Poker Tour, Point Pong. and others tried to offer up football merchandise.

DSC_4208Sirus XM radio had their Fantasy Sports Radio show broadcast live as the event was going on.  Fans could listen in to fantasy experts give their opinion as well as former athletes give their analyst opinions on who to draft for your fantasy team.  94WIP Sports Radio, 97.5 The Fanatic, 97.3 ESPN Radio, & 103.7 WMGM Rocks were also doing certain live broadcasts or reports from the event.

For those wanting a true taste of playing on the gridiron, there were interactive areas where one could catch a pass, kick a field goal, or throw passes for accuracy.  The Giants Perry Williams was having fun along side the fans in the passing section.  Jets/Giants Billy Taylor was giving defensive stance tips to the Lingerie Football League ladies who were also a part of the festivities.

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Jets/Giants Billy Taylor with the ladies of the Lingerie Football League

One could notice some of the other players and former players in attendance wanted to get their time there over as soon as possible.  Many of the fans and even the vendors noticed how some shortened their time on purpose due to the low turnout.

For example, Michael Vick was originally scheduled for his autograph session from 1:30-3:30 PM and then a panel discussion with Matthew Berry breaking down the QB position from 4:15-5 PM.  LeSean McCoy was scheduled from 2:30-4:30 PM for his autograph session.  The only session that did not change was the QB panel discussion.  LeSean McCoy took part in that as well and it became a general Q&A session as well.

Both Michael Vick & LeSean McCoy had their autograph sessions changed from their scheduled times  to 5-6 PM.  $100 for Vick to sign any item and McCoy $60 for any item.  As soon as 5:30 came they both left before the end of their scheduled times.  This could be due to low autograph requests, low attendance, or the fact not many stayed until the 6 PM day one close.

They were great with the fans and signed whatever people presented and answered tons of questions.  One has to wonder why they would leave early.  If they got paid for one time and left before that scheduled time, they really made out like bandits.

DSC_4093Day two of the event saw less fans attend.  Even some of the vendors did not come back for day two.  Some even came in after the 10 AM start time.  The demeanor of the vendors showed their displeasure with the event.  From the supposed 25000 tickets either sold or given away it appeared less than 2000 attended the event.

My wife and I stayed at the Sheraton, less than 50 yards from the convention center.  One of the Sheraton’s attendants mentioned he had no idea the event was going on that weekend.  According to him, he saw no posted advertisements for the event.  While my wife and I walked, we barely saw any ourselves.  The only ads we saw were on a revolving billboard and light post flags leading to the convention center.

DSC_4254Outside the convention center, there was a tailgating section.   WMGM Radio was broadcasting live outside alongside the the worlds largest portable bbq grill.  It takes p the whole trailer of an 18 wheeler.  Johnsonville has three trucks and brings them to various events across the country.  The next stop after the Fantasy Fest was to Bristol, TN for NASCAR.

It appeared there were more food vendors inside than outside.  The driver of the Johnsonville truck was also the grillmaster.  Johnsonville was at the event to help raise charitable funds for the Marines.  But they felt let down by the event.

DSC_4253They claim there were no signs or posters inside to direct fans outside to the tailgating section.  After checking the event floor, there really was no signs.  They were all posted outside the doos of the event in various parts of the convention center.  We went outside both days and each time the tailgating section looked empty.

The guys from Johnsonville felt disappointed as they look to help raise funds for charity.  This event let them down as they could not raise the kinds of charitable funds for the Marines as they had hoped.

Day two also saw former Giants QB Phil Simms as the autograph attraction.  Phil was great with the kids and more than happy to talk to the fans and sign whatever they wanted.  I found out from one of his handlers that he drove himself down there that morning.

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NY Giants QB & Football Analyst Phil Simms

Phil Simms was scheduled from 11AM-1PM.  And like a few others the day before, he could not wait to get out of the event.  His line for autographs was short and he left the event before the end of his scheduled autograph time.  Phil Simms sped out the door so fast he beat Usain Bolt’s world record in the 100 yard dash.  I should know, I was behind him taking video.

The event may not have been an overall success for some, but for those who got what they paid for, they left satisfied.  I guess if you are a true fantasy football fan and you had your questions answered before you could draft your players, then it was a success.  If your kids saw the players you grew up watching and had them sign the autographs you wanted, then you left smiling.

If ReedPOP plans to do this event next year, there is a lot that needs to be rethought and restructured.  Not only do the fans who attend need to leave happy, but so should your exhibitors.  They pay for space on the floor and should be given a true chance to make a profit on top of their expenses for the festival.  If the exhibitors leave the event pleased, then they will plan  to return next year.

If there had been video game tournaments where players could play Madden, NCAA 13, or Siper Techmo Bowl with prizes and sponsor tie ins from EA Sports, Nintendo, Sony or others could have added more of an interactive feel to the event.

ReedPOP could show live status feeds from Twitter to encourage the use of social media to get people to the event immediately.  Even a prize every hour for the best tweet.

I enjoyed myself at the event.  The Philadelphia Eagle cheerleaders formed lines to welcome fans in and I ran threw.  I took my attempt at the field goal kick.  If you want to know how I did, come back when the video is up.  Plus I interviewed New York Giants Otis Anderson, Howard Cross, Perry Williams, Billy Taylor, Jets Bruce Harper, Ravens Tony Siragusa, ESPN’s Matthew Berry, and more.  So in order to know what we talked about, you WILL have to come back for the video.

DSC_4199If ReedPOP decides to do this event next year, I will come back.  I’d like to see how they can improve in their second year to increase attendance.  This convention can be a success with the right adjusting.  Take advantage of the successes it had and capitalize on it for next year.  You will find football fans do enjoy events like this as it provides the interaction fans welcome from players.

When the players are signing autographs & laughing, fans obtaining signatures and memorabilia, and vendors are interacting with sales and valuable fantasy information, then everyone is happy.  That is how you measure an event’s success.

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It A Hard Knock Life, But Not For The Jets

It appears fans of  HBO’s  Hard Knocks will not be able to get up close, personal, and behind all the scenes of the New York Jets this training camp.

According to Dennis Wasznak of the Associated Press, the Jets have reportedly turned down HBO’s offer:

A person familiar with the decision said the team decided to not participate in the hit HBO show this year after being approached by the cable network about appearing again.

Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and company were big stars and drew huge ratings two years ago—the last time the show aired—but the Jets opted to pass on doing it again this summer, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Friday because neither the team nor the cable network had announced the decision.

This past Tuesday night on The Jets Zone on Blog Talk Radio I said this was the best decision the team could have made.

When you consider the three ring media circus that has already surrounded the franchise, the media frenzy and questions that came up when “backup” QB Tim Tebow was traded for, another Darelle Revis situation, and the locker-room problems the Jets had last season, the last thing they need are more cameras and eyes on the team as they go through training camp.

From a football perspective, the show would be a serious distraction. The report states the reason for turning the show down is the fact that they have a new offensive coordinator in Tony Sparano, and that makes perfect sense. Sporano is going to have his hands full with a new defense and getting used to the Jets.  The last thing he needs is his focus taken off the team.

Unfortunately, the Jets’ decision is a football fans loss when it’s all said and done.  .

The show would have been a must-watch had the Jets been the focus.

 I can only imagine what the dynamic between Tim Tebow, Mark Sanchez and the camera would be like. There are only so many cameras and so much face time available—who would end up getting most of the spotlight?  Who would have the biggest crowd of fans when the cameras would be present?

And then there’s boisterous head coach Rex Ryan. What would he have up his sleeve for the audience?  More yelling?  Another snack?  Perhaps a few wise cracks or dirty jokes would be heard on top of the cameras covering his weight loss.

Alas, fans of great reality TV will suffer, because it appears the Jets have made the smart and conventional move for the first time in a while.  With 1,001 cameras already on them they did not need HBO’s as well.

They’ll be better for it, and the rest of us will be stuck hoping for anybody but Jacksonville.