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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.
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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.

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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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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.

Sunday’s Jets/Patriots Game Critical For Team & Fans

For the past year and a half, New Meadowlands Stadium now MetLife Stadium has been home of the New York Jets. But Sunday will feel like their first game in the new billion dollar stadium.

When the Patriots come to East Rutherford in a gigantic AFC East match against Gang Green,  it will be a test to see if all those years of waiting will make this stadium be home to the Jets and their fans or just another upscale VIP event.

To date, this will be the Jets biggest game they will play in the new stadium.  But to the fans and everyone watching, will it feel like it. More importantly, will the Jets play as it is their biggest game played in MetLife Stadium.

For as long as I have been filming at MetLife, the former New Meadowlands Stadium, no one has enjoyed it.  Fans have had reason to hate the PSLs.  The fans hate the way it looks like a prison from the outside.  It has no life.  The stadium feels like a shell of something that could be grander.

The Jets want fans at MetLife Stadium on Sunday vs. the Patriots to give Gang Green an advantage they have yet to see at home.  They want the fans to be louder than they have ever been.  To show that the Jets can defeat their AFC rivals with confidence and certainty.  The Jets biggest opponent are themselves, and that needs to be defeated easily before they can defeat the Patriots.

But maybe this game is what the new stadium has been waiting for. Maybe Brady, Billichik, Ochocinco, and the rest of the Pats walking into the Jets home is what has been needed. The sight of the Justin Bieber wannabe has done it time and time again. The most memorable home game of Jets coach Rex Ryan’s tenure was his first. On that Sunday back in September of 2009, Giants Stadium vibrated as the Jets defeated the Patriots in an opening day battle.

The past three years has been a period of change for many sports fans, and not just of football. We’ve seen Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium and Giants Stadium torn down. Rising in their place have been buildings that seem to be more about profits than the roar of the fans, that prefer the upscale, casual sports viewer than the outspoken die-hard fan.

Since I started filming, I have heard stories & watched fans who saw Joe Namath play at Shea leave overpriced seats behind where they could have watched Mark Sanchez in a new stadium . Tales of longtime season-ticket holders fuming and forced out in droves have seen masses not come back to watch all their local sports teams.

For the Jets, MetLife Stadium was supposed to represent their first real home. The franchise has wandered like gypsies from other peoples home stadiums beginning with the Polo Grounds. MetLife is shared with the Giants, but the franchise does everything possible to make the stadium feel like home by making it look green on game day.  So fans feel like it belongs to them, not the Giants.

Like the new homes of the Mets and Yankees, though, the Jets are limited in how they can make MetLife stadium feel like home. Most of it has to do with what’s happening on the field & the green colors outside on game day. Yankee Stadium felt like doppelganger to some until they had their series with the Boston Red Sox during the opening season. Citi Field needs a Mets makeover before it becomes a tough ticket.  It has yet to feel warm and inviting to Mets fans.

On Sunday, it is zero hour for Gang Green and their fans. The Jets have a chance to see what their home field can truly sound and feel like. They have played 12 games at MetLife Stadium to date. Brett Favre’s return last year had the place shaking. The season opener with the Cowboys this year got loud when Joe McKnight blocked a punt in the fourth quarter.  But that is nothing compared to what the fans can truly sound like.

Nothing compares to the present, though. Bill Belichick and Brady enter this game vulnerable. With both teams at 5-3, this feels like an AFC Title game. It could determine whether the Jets bring a playoff game to MetLife this year.  Something the fans have demanded for years.  The ability to watch their team at home in the playoffs.  To give their Jets a home field advantage the likes the team has not seen.

Is that enough for those in the VIP boxes and Coaches Club sections to put down their over priced drinks and prime rib? Maybe Woody Johnson needs to sit with the real fans to find out what it truly feels like to be at a home Jets game.  At about 8:30 Sunday night come kick off, we’ll find out.

Hierarchy & Ego Separate Jets Fans Rather Than Uniting Them

For the past three years I have met many fans while filming my documentary.  They have gone through many ups and downs over that time.  The announcement of the PSL’s, the destruction of an old stadium, the birth of a new one, overpaying just to keep their seats, and finally wondering if the lockout would have canceled the 2011 season.  Through all of that, fans could not stand united against the powers that be.  The people who pay to be in the building could never come together to be a united front to show what power they can truly posses.

Why is that you may ask.  Because there are many types of fans.  Some who feel they are more of an alpha fan.  More passionate, more loyal, just because they spend more than others.  That they mean more as a fan than other fans are.  Think George Orwell’s work of Animal Farm.  Where all fans are supposed to be equal.  Some fans are more equal than others.

Fans from teams from all leagues have this.  I can only speak about Jets fans since I have visited and spoken with many over the years.  All of them have their positives and negatives to say.  Not just about the team, but about each other.  When fans can not get along with each other, there is no way they could ever unite to show team owners they should be taken seriously.

I say this all now because of the lockout.  It left a bad taste in many peoples mouths.  Not just Jets and Giants fans.  It showed that the fans were thought of fifth or sixth, after all the money making issues.  Roger Goodell, owners, and players did want the season to happen so fans did not miss out on football in 2011.  But was that just good PR on their part or a show of genuine heart?  Fans were mixed.  Some thought they said it just to say it and others followed like sheep in a herd.

In my travels from tailgates to Jets rallies, the various fans have shown their true selves.  Some more down to earth than others.  Many older Jets fans, ones who have had tickets since Shea and earlier seem to be more humble.  Willing to share war stories of past gridiron battles.  There is a sense of pride in being a Jets fan there.  One can tell they are a fan and they feel no reason to boast or have a swagger about it.  Their dedication has shown for sticking with the Jets this long.    To them, they just want to see one more Super Bowl win.

One the flip side there are some fans since Shea who boast about being a fan so long.  Just because they feel they have been a fan longer than others.  They brag, boast, and jabber on about all the games they went to, where their seats, are and anything else they can say.  As if to say their time and seniority with the team makes them a bigger fan than many.  They will debate and argue that point until others see their view or concede.

More recent ticket holders have the “he who dies with the most toys wins” attitude.  He who holds more PSL’s & sits lower n the bowl spending more on their seats is the bigger fan.  These same people feel the more merchandise they own and show off it proves they are a bigger fan than others.  By showcasing their disposable income, they believe they look better and are seen as a bigger fan to others.  One can notice their bravado in their tailgate setups and how loud they are to others around them.

A few fans who travel to away games believe they are bigger fans as well.  They take the time to go to Miami, Indianapolis, Oakland, and other stadiums to see their beloved Jets.  For some odd reason, some believe that the more they spend on anything Jets related makes them a bigger fan.  One’s dedication to a team and sticking with them no matter what record they have should be reason enough to be a huge fan of the Jets.

Some fans believe that just because they write blogs or run websites it makes them a bigger fan than many.  I have heard from a few others and even in my own encounters.  There are a few that believe their own hype because they blog Jets information, claim to run the best tailgates and websites, and a few think they are “in the know” just because they run a blog.  Having a lot of followers on Twitter or having a few hundred hits per day on your blog does not make you a better fan than anyone else.

Apparently, there is one individual who runs a popular website and tailgates at every game.  from reports I have heard, this person believe others do not know how to tailgate the way he does.  Plus, he will verbally lash out at others who try to compare his tailgate to another.  Apparently, all this person can do is inflate his own ego and even goes on about it on his website.  He says his tailgate is the place to be and others are small in comparison.  Why would one care about what others do?  Is there that much riding on being the one who has the best tailgate and reports the most on the Jets at the same time?

In my own experience, I came across another blogger who carries a very “high and mighty” attitude.  This person blogs about Jets information, Jets training and Tweets regularly.  Now because this person is friends with other Jets bloggers and apparently knows certain Jets reporters in the true paid media, they feel they need to have a chip on their shoulder.  My friend Anthony thought the same opinion after meeting this person only once.

I can tell from this persons interaction with certain fans that they believe their own hype.  This person would only talk to certain fans and give the cold shoulder to many others.  It seemed this person thought they were better than the others in the area.  Even reading their blog and tweets one can see they think of themselves very highly.  When I attempted to follow this person on Twitter, even before meeting them,  I was blocked.  Why block a Jets fan from following another Jets fan?  Strange.

All Jets bloggers report the same information.  Predictions on games, thoughts on the offense and defense, re-reporting what Jets beat writers get paid to do for national and regional media, and other pertinent team info.  Occasionally blog writers will get interviews with players.  Just because one runs a blog does not make them a better Jets fan than anyone else.  It also does not put you on the same level as one who works for ESPN, NY Post, NY Times, CBS Sports, FOX Sports, etc.  It just means you have a voice on the internet, nothing more.

I know not everyone resembles the types I talked about.  There are so many others that do not fall into that mix.  I brought it up to prove a point.  The players can unite to fight for what they want.  The teams can come together and be on the same side in the battle against the players.  Fans will never be able to stand as one to show what type of a force they can be.  I mean after all, we spend the money to fill these stadiums and purchase their merchandise.  That totals up to more than a few hundred.

Many who have had season tickets for decades did not follow the team into the new stadium.  Not because they couldn’t afford it, but because they saw no need to.  One can still be a big Jets fan even though they are not a season ticket holder.  A few I have talked to who are well off financially did not purchase a PSL.  Even though they could, they thought it was a waste of a purchase or investment.  Not every fan has to follow the herd.
With the lockout, PSL’s, rate hikes, and so much more, fans will never be able to get together on any issue that affects them.  Many are either out for themselves or do whatever the team hands down.  They will pay whatever cost it takes to stay at the stadium.

One could say there is middle ground, the non PSL seats in the upper bowl.  There are few who have sense of mind not to follow & attend at any cost.  Many of those people are in the upper bowl or watching from their couch at home.

Imagine what a fans strike could actually do to a sports league.  It would show who really has power in a sport.  But there are too many fans and season ticket holders who would never do that.  They would complain that they have to pay for their tickets or payments to their PSL’s.  They would cringe at the fact of losing their hierarchy of social status in the Roman Coliseum at the Meadowlands.  Believing that paying for ones seats is more important than sticking up for ones beliefs.

I did not come here to abuse anyone or call anyone out.  I wanted to lay fact that while fans will complain about everything they can do nothing.  Not until we all see things the same way.  Until we put our egos and attitudes aside for one common purpose, each other.  That we all, as fans, will ALWAYS be in the same boat.  Paddling as hard as we can with our hands trying to catch up to the yacht filled with players and the luxury liner filled with team owners.

Jets, Dolphins Rivalry: Always A Battle For The Ages

This past Sunday was a day Jets fans will never forget.  A lopsided loss to one of their biggest rivals, the New England Patriots.  But if there is one other team the Jets fans hate as much as the Pats, it is the Miami Dolphins.  This Sunday the Jets place at the Meadowlnds to redeem themselves not just to themselves, but to their fans.  For as long as I could remember, this way always a home game I looked forward to.  When my brother and I were younger, my father would take us to four home games each.  We both battled over who would go to the Dolphins game.  Just like the Patriots, facing the Dolphins just brings out the inner warrior in every Jets fan.

One my of earliest Jets game memories was from a Dolphins game.  I was about 7.  A few rows in front of us were some Dolphins fans.  They were talking up a storm.  The Jets fans around us were saying stuff back and the banter kept going.  I was quiet the whole time.  The minute everyone around was quiet you hear a tiny voice scream out”Miami sucks!”. The Miami fans turn around puzzled what diminutive voice could have said that.  The fellow Jets fans around told them to turn around and not to care where it came from.  I was getting pats on my back, fans around telling me good job and way to go.  My father could not stop laughing.  I will always feel that way.

They have often competed for divisional supremacy, and have played a number of classic, memorable games. Currently, the Jets hold the advantage in the all-time series with a record of 47-42-1, while the Dolphins have won the lone postseason meeting, defeating the Jets in the 1982 AFC Championship.

The Jets were established in 1960 and the Dolphins in 1966; both as members of the now defunct American Football League.  After the merger of the AFL and NFL in 1970 the Dolphins and the Jets were placed in the AFC East, guaranteeing that they would meet twice a year annually.  The rivalry has stayed intense through the years as both teams are always competitive against one another no matter what the standings indicate.  The rivalry also keeps a high intensity because of the large amount of transplanted New York Jets fans that retire to South Florida.

Prior to the New England Patriots rise to dominance in the early 2000s, the Jets and Dolphins regularly contested for the AFC East title (along with the Buffalo Bills in the early 1990s).  Upon the Dolphin’s joining of the AFL in 1966, the Jets were laying the seeds for their 1968 Super Bowl III victory. After the Jets Super Bowl victory in 1968, the Dolphins began their ascension to the top of the NFL, culminating back-to-back Super Bowl wins in 1972 and 1973. The 1972 season also Miami finish with a 17-0 record; the only NFL team to finish the regular season and post-season without a loss or tie.

When the Dolphins joined the AFL in 1966, the Jets were ascending the ranks of the AFL powerhouses on the arm of quarterback Joe Namath. The Jets won the first eight contests against the Dolphins. When the Dolphins finally posted their first winning record in 1970, injuries plagued Namath and the Jets stumbled to a 4-10 record. Thanks to Namath’s inability to consistently stay healthy, the Jets never posted a record above .500 in the 1970s. Meanwhile, the Dolphins quickly surged to the NFL’s elite after the AFL-NFL merger, peaking with one the first and so far only undefeated season in NFL History 1972 and back-to-back Super Bowl wins in Super Bowls VII and VIII.

The 1978 season began a string of Jets success against the Dolphins that ran into the early 1980s. Entering the 1980 season, the Dolphins were aiming toward another playoff run, while the Jets were struggling. The Jets won a total of only four games. Two of those games were wins over Miami:17-14 in New York on October 27, and 24-17 in Miami on December 20. Miami went on to finish with a record of 8-8, but it was the season sweep by the Jets that largely cost them their chances of a playoff berth.

The mid-1980s saw both teams become simultaneously competitive for the first time, beginning with a battle for the AFC East in 1981. That season also saw the only tie in the series, a 28-28 stalemate in Miami. The game lead tied or changed on every score; in the first half Jet leads of 7-0 and 14-7 were answered by Miami touchdowns. Miami took a 21-14 lead in the third but in the fourth touchdowns by Wesley Walker and a Richard Todd pass to Bobby Jones offset a Don Strock touchdown to Nat Moore. In overtime neither team could advance the ball, ending the game deadlocked.

The tie became crucial in the final standings; had the Jets won the game, combined with their 16-15 home victory during the season, they would’ve clinched the division on a tiebreaker. Instead, Miami won the division by one game. Still, the Jets’ 10-5-1 record allowed them to clinch their first postseason berth in twelve seasons. but they lost to the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card round, 31-27, while Miami lost a 41-38 overtime epic to the San Diego Chargers.

With the conclusion of the 1981 season the Jets had won seven of the previous eight meetings with the Dolphins with the one tie. Miami, however, returned to the rivalry’s fore in 1982, a season that saw the apex of the rivalry, coming in the 1982 AFC Championship on January 23, 1983, more appropriately known as “The Mud Bowl.”

After the Dolphins swept the Jets during the strike- shortened regular season, the two teams met again, this time with a trip to Super Bowl XVII on the line. The tarp was left off the field of the Orange Bowl during a 72 hour rainstorm leading up to the game, which resulted in a sloppy field covered in mud which kept both teams scoreless in the first half. The game was a classic defensive battle that featured ten turnovers, eight of them on quarterback interceptions. The star of the game was undoubtedly Dolphins linebacker A.J. Duhe who picked off three of Jets quarterback Richard Todd’s five interceptions, returning one 35 yards for a touchdown to help seal the 14–0 win and send the Dolphins to Super Bowl XVII. To this day, former Jets coach Walt Michaels believes that Miami coach Don Shula ordered to keep the tarp off the field, to neutralize New York’s superior team speed.

Two of the most memorable contests between the teams occurred in 1986. On September 21, Jets quarterback Ken O’Brien and Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino put on a legendary offensive performance. The two quarterbacks combined set NFL single game records of 884 net passing yards and ten touchdown passes, records that still stand to this day. Dan Marino completed 30 of 50 passes for 448 yards and six touchdown passes.  Ken O’Brien threw for 479 yards and four touchdown passes.

In 1994, the Jets found themselves one game back of the Dolphins for the AFC East division lead heading into their November 27 match at the Meadowlands. In a game with first place on the line, the Jets held a 24-6 lead, outplaying the Dolphins for three quarters. However, Dan Marino led the Dolphins back with two touchdowns, cutting the score to 24-21. Marino got the ball one last time and drove the Dolphins down the field to within the Jets’ five-yard line. With thirty seconds remaining, and the clock continuing to wind down, it appeared Marino was going to spike the ball to stop the clock and send out the field goal unit to tie the game. Instead, Marino took the snap from center, and after motioning as if he would spike the ball, fired the ball in the corner of the end zone past Aaron Glenn and into the hands of Mark Ingram.  The touchdown gave the Dolphins a 28-24 victory, and Miami went on to win the division. The Jets went into a spiral after that play, losing all of their remaining games. Indeed, the game marked the beginning of a period of ignominy for the Jets as they compiled a record of 4-33 from that game to the end of the 1996 season.

After 1996, the Jets made several changes to turn things around, the most significant of which was the hiring of Bill Parcells from the New England Patriots. The turnaround was immediate, and by 1998 the team once again was a serious division contender. Both teams were 9-4 on December 13, 1998 when they met on Sunday Night Football with the division lead, and possibly the division title, on the line. Very similar to this past Sunday.  The Jets led 14-10 when Jets defender Chad Cascadden picked up a Marino fumble and returned it for a touchdown with just under two minutes to play to put the Jets ahead 21-10. The Dolphins were able to score a quick touchdown to come close, but it was not enough, and the Jets won 21-16, and they went on to win their first post-merger division title the following Saturday at Buffalo.

Both the Jets and Dolphins started the 2000 season 5-1 when they met on Monday Night Football on October 23, 2000, to determine control of the AFC East. What looked to be an exciting match between two of the top teams in the NFL at the time was anything but for the first three quarters. The Dolphins held a 23-7 lead at halftime that grew to 30-7 at the end of the third quarter. Vinny Testaverde threw three interceptions, running back Curtis Martin was limited to 30 yards on the ground, and the Jets offense could only manage two first downs in the first half. So great was the 23-point advantage that Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler was heard on the sidelines telling defensive end Jason Taylor, “They ain’t coming back on us!” to which Taylor replied, “Hell no! You kidding? C’mon now.”

However, the Jets looked to prove that statement wrong. Touchdowns from Testaverde to Laveranues Coles and Jermaine Wiggins cut the lead to 30-20. After a field goal by John Hall, Testaverde fired a touchdown pass to Wayne Chrebet to tie the game 30-30 with 3:55 left. Fans who had left the stadium when the game looked to be a rout suddenly piled back in wanting to see the Jets’ comeback. Still, it took only two plays for Miami to respond.  Nonetheless, Testaverde marched the Jets down field and, with 42 seconds left, found eligible Jumbo Elliott on a three-yard touchdown (which Elliott memorably bobbled as he fell to the ground) to tie the game at 37-37 and sent it to overtime. In the fourth quarter, Testaverde was 18 for 26 for 235 yards and four touchdowns, and the offense converted twenty first downs in the quarter, after managing just five beforehand.

In overtime, Fiedler was intercepted for the third time, setting up the dramatic finish. At 1:08 AM EDT, Hall nailed a 40-yard field goal to win the game for the Jets, 40-37. The game came to be known in NFL lore as The Monday Night Miracle. When Monday Night Football celebrated its 500th telecast on November 11, 2002, fans picked the game as the greatest in the series’ history. It was also the largest comeback from a fourth quarter deficit in NFL history.

The teams have seen players go back and forth between the teams over the years.  Chad Pennington and Jason Taylor being the most notable recently.  Even Rex Ryan flashing an obscene gesture towards heckling Dolphins fans during a Strikeforce mixed martial arts event at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida.  It does not matter if it is the fans, players, or coaches, everyone gets caught up in the rivalry.  I am sure this Sunday will be no different.  Every Jet fan grew up waiting for the Dolphins to come to town.  It was a game to look forward to.  A game you would sit and watch in zero degree weather.  A game where every fan no matter the age, wants to say “Miami sucks!”.

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.