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.