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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.

Jets Keep Winning, Veteran Fans Debate Future Tailgating

This past Thursday night, the Jets gave their fans a true win to celebrate over.  On Thanksgiving night, they beat the stuffing out of those turkeys called the Cincinnati Bengals.  Three wins in under a year.  The Jets defense came alive when the team needed them to the most.  That was a key piece missing the past few weeks.  Sanchez and the offense was picking up the slack for the defense.  But Revis and the Defense proved they want it just as bad.  Two interceptions, a fumble recovery, three sacks, and a safety kept their juices flowing.  It was great to finally see the Jets have a decisive win that they did not have to pull out in the final seconds of the game.

Where has Brad Smith been hiding his potential?  For weeks now he has barely cracked double digits when running the ball or in the Seminole package.  Mr. Every Position sparked New York to its second-best start after he scored on an 89-yard kickoff return — during which a cleat slipped off — and also had a 53-yard touchdown run.  Brad Smith is showing why he is an integral part of the Jets offense.  It seems when guys are needed on the team, they come to life.  I think some are still waiting for Joe McKnight to come around.

Now the Jets may be 9-2 and that gives many fans a reason to celebrate.  Everyone will.  Many younger fans have not seen a Jets team like this and older veteran fans have not seen a team this good in decades.  But it is still not enough to keep some long time tailgaters happy.  Long time tailgaters The Jet Nuts, Jet Pack, and a few others have considered putting a halt to their mass crowd tailgating ways.  They are not seeing the people they once saw come to their tailgates to pay.  Many blame it on friends opting out of the PSLs and continuing their season tickets.  The groups that charge per head is not seeing the same income come in to help fund a large tailgate party each game.

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Caesar who helped create the Jet Pack back in 1967 said over 80% of the crew did not continue their season tickets.  Now, they tailgate in two separate groups and do not really have the bond they used to have.  Cesar has tried to get Robert Parrin over at the other group to come over to no avail.  One group has about eight while the other has about a handful.  Really down from the dozens I have seen at their combined tailgate before.  To them, the game is not the same experience without being able to tailgate the way they used to, with their friends.

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The Jet Nuts though have a larger tailgate.  Sometimes catering to over 100 fans, depending on the game.  But this season has seen a considerable drop.  They say the crowds are not coming to them like they used to.  They are putting out more money and not seeing much of a return.  Not to mention the bus they drive up from Port Redding with the TV’s, industrial sized grills, and generations of family members.  The Jet Nuts are thinking this could be their last year of group tailgating.  They have been a focus on Jets tailgating for years and they are on their forth bus.

Some could argue the economy still has a hold on some, only paying for the essentials when it comes to the games.  Spending what they had on the PSL, parking pass, and tickets.  Maybe some do not have the $20-$30 per game for a tailgate.  IF you have a family, that can add up.  So it could be cheaper to do a few burgers and dogs yourself.  But people will always party in the parking lots.  You will always see the few and the many.  The groups who take up 4-5 spots who will cook for a few dozen friends.  Not to mention Lobel’s of New York and Weber Grills teaming up to do your tailgating for you, for a price.    They will offer grills to rent in the future.

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As long as the Jets keep wining, the fans will find a reason to celebrate.  But at the home games, not everyone will celebrate together.  Some are doing it by their cars, while their friends are doing it for the first time from their couches.  Many fans note he inside of the stadium has changed.  Not just the building, but the fans inside as well.  It is a different atmosphere all around.  From parking, to the building, to the fans seating around you, to how you leave the stadium parking.  Everyone sees a difference inside when attending a game.  But the biggest difference is how many new younger fans there are compared to the old regime of fans who were with the team since the New York Titans days, or even Shea Stadium.

Even if the Jets win the Super Bowl, it will not bring back the fans who have already left.  They will continue to cheer on their team.  Just no longer from seats inside the stadium.  But from the ones in front of their TV or at their favorite sorts bar.  Sometimes a bigger better stadium does not mean your fans will be better.  You never hear too many people recall memories from walking around a stadium, from visiting VIP lounges or suites.  Sitting at the stadium bar or carving station.  Not even from what concession stand they get their beer from.  They recall the memories of the game itself, memorable plays seen on the field watching with their friends.  Memories recapped while tailgating in the parking lot, passing those memories on to the next generation.