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.
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.
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.