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2012 Season Preparation Begins For Jets & Their Fans

Over the past week, training camp began across the NFL.  The Jets reported to training camp with more questions than answers.  Even though the Jets will not be on Hard Knocks there is always enough drama and media following around Gang Green.  Just turn on SportsCenter.

From the release of information regarding locker room issues to the Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow so called “QB controversy”, the cameras will keep rolling through Jets training camp.  Let’s face it, the Jets provide more drama than TNT.

The veterans need to let what happened months ago slide off their back and get down to business.  If Santonio Holmes, Mark Sanchez, and the other starters want to look ahead to the 2012 season, they need to forget about how the 2011 season ended.  The incoming rookies need to be led by the veterans example and act as a cohesive unit.

But as much prep work the Jets need to do, so do the fans.  Why should fans do prep work?  What could possibly be so important that fans need to do prep work for the 2012 season.

It’s called tailgating.

Majority of you are probably thinking all one has to do is pack food, beer, and a grill.  Then drive to the stadium, find a spot, set up and enjoy.

Sure, for the basic one timer this is a great idea.  But to the experienced season ticket holder who makes a day of tailgating, there are many steps taken for the quintessential tailgating experience.

Before MetLife Stadium & parking permits, one would be able to arrive as early as they wanted to.  At the old Giants Stadium, my wife Gina & I would get there as early as 7 AM before a 1 PM game.  A few others would arrive before us.  We made a day of it, breakfast and lunch before the game.  Everything packed the night before and finding a prime spot the next day.

The best part about arriving at least 6 hours before kickoff was that there were no employees at the entry gates.  One could drive to their stated parking destination and not pay $20.

I am 37 and I talk about 5 years ago as if I was referring to 1943.  Like technology, everything seems to be moving faster these days.

Some groups already established like L7 Tailgate, Dave Fier and the group at L5, and “Flagman” Frank Conway staked their clam the minute they were first allowed into the newly established MetLife lots.  They get there early enough to the same location to ensure there is room needed to support their tailgating experience for everyone involved.

MetLife Stadium is set up  according to your parking permit.  The more you pay for it according to its list price, the closer to the stadium you are.  This could play a factor in your tailgating.  The farther you are, the earlier you may have to end your tailgate.

This is why the Jets have preseason games, to work out the kinks before the season starts.  Same should go for those wanting the best tailgating experience during the season.

First off, not many die hard season ticket holders attend preseason games.  One could go and scout every location needed.  To go from colored lot to colored lot is not easy, but it can be done.  Attend one or two preseason games and you will find your prime spot for the season.

Here is a layout of the MetLife Stadium parking situation
Parking lot B was formerly a non PSL parking area.  In 2011, it was converted to yellow PSL parking.

By viewing the map, the areas that fill up first are the outlined black areas in each parking section.  Look at is as real estate while tailgating.  You can have a small plot to host a tailgate and not have to compete with drivers looking for a place to park.

Many campers, diesel trucks, and u-hauls tailgate on the “outer rim”(Star Wars reference).  “Flagman” Frank Conway has room to fly his 546 flags this way.  If there is a section of concrete or grass that can be occupied, those will go first.

Next to go are the parking lot lights with the lot location on it.  Hence the L7 Tailgate and Dave Fier with L5.  Get a bunch of friends to park side by side and in some cases, on the opposite side as well to have a central hub for tailgating.  Some of the guys at L5 have a fun and entertaining way to mock the opposing team each game day as someone drives through their tailgate.

Once the outside rim and the lot markers are gone it all spreads out from there.  The prime spots are usually gone in about an hour.  This is why many line up at least 1-2 hours before the gates are opened.  They know by waiting, even for that long, you can guarantee yourself a prime location.

Relax, one does not have to line up as early as fans did to watch Peyton Manning practice for the first time with the Denver Broncos.

Just keep in mind the larger your tailgate, the earlier you want to arrive to secure a spot that can hold not just all the people, but what everyone brings with them.  So act like Indiana Jones and choose wisely.

August is a great time to get those needed essentials for tailgating.  Many stores view August as the end of summer.  So many tailgating essentials for grilling or barbecuing will be available for a discount.  One can find coolers, utensils, charcoal towers, certain portable grills, and more for prices lower than some expect.  Stores would rather sell them for a deep discount than not sell them at all.

One item that is an essential for any tailgate is a pop up tent.  They come 10’x10′ standard and usually start around $95.  It comes it handier than an umbrella in rainy situations.  Keep your grill and food dry so your tailgate can continue in any weather.  Many put them over the back of their car so friends always have a dry place to stand.  Trust me, if it rains and you do not have one, you will wish you did.

Other items like chairs, tables, flags, inflatables, air horns, fire pits, flat screen TV’s, satellite dishes, couches, end tables, or whatever else makes your tailgate a memorable one is up to you.  I provide the basics.

Maybe a future article will focus on the more extravagant and stranger tailgates out there.  I have pictures on some and they will definitely make you laugh.

One could use the above guidelines for either the Jets or Giants home games.  The parking doesn’t change.  Only the fans tailgating.

Overcoming Obstacles Before The Warrior Dash

For a few days now I have been pondering what to type up next.  Not much Jets news besides Wilkerson’s crash and the usual Sanchez/Tebow drama.  Training camp begins soon.  I assume the drama will start up soon.

I am not going to be working on my Jets documentary forever.  It led to me covering the fans and giving them their chance to shine when no one else really does.  Not just on video but in print.  But there  is more going on to talk about than just the New York Jets and it is time I branched out and started to write about many other topics.

Let’s face it, diversity is key.  Need some variety here.  The Bakery is getting stale with the same old topics.  It needs to be freshened up with some new topics and coverage.  And maybe some more about myself, what I am doing, and what I have been through.

What better way to start than to talk about my foray into the Warrior Dash this Saturday.

What is the Warrior Dash you ask?  Check their website at Warrior Dash.  I can not be bothered talking about it so find out for yourself.

Just kidding.

The Warrior Dash, the World’s Largest Running Series,  is a 3.20 mile long course made up of 14 “hellish” obstacles.  They take place on off terrain paths, in water, over walls, in mud, over fire, and many other obstacles.  There are 45+ races in the United States every year and also Australia.

Some of the obstacles change from course to course, depending on the environment.  This is the first time Warrior Dash is in New Jersey.  It is being held at Lewis Morris County Park in Morristown, NJ and this is my first time running in this event.

Even the walking I would do filming at a Jets game is not enough cardio for an event like this.  I would begin by parking at the Sheraton on the other side of Route 3.  Then with some maneuvering, use a NJ Turnpike exit bridge to the stadium to cross the highway.  Then  walk from one end of MetLife Stadium parking to the other side, and back again.  Even over to the Izod Center and everywhere in between.

I have been training for this since March considering I have not been in a gym for about six years.  So I knew I had to dedicate time and energy to make sure I could at least finish the event.  The Warrior Dash website does outline certain training routines for different skill sets.  I am glad I trained beyond what they recommend.

The event begins at 9 AM.  The first 500 warriors will line up for their dash through hell.  Then in 30 minute intervals, waves of 500 Warriors will line up for their opportunity.  I line up for my chance at 1:30 PM.

You can track my start of the event and when I finish on Facebook or Twitter.  Pictures will also be posted by Warrior Dash’s in house photographers as well as race day updates by myself.

As I write this my mother sends me an e-mail saying she just read what the Warrior Dash involves.  Then she asked if I was crazy.

I responded yes.

The race does involve and obstacle where one has to jump over a wall of flame.  It is just a line of Duraflame logs.  To get an more in depth review of Warrior Dash and other running series like Spartan Run, Rebel Race, Tough Mudder, and others go to Travelete.com.

I bring that up because some obstacles seem worse than they sound.  They do not want it to be impossible where only few finish.  That is the Tough Mudder, (recognize my sarcasm yet?).

If there is someone struggling, others have been know to provide assistance on the course.  Many do act like sportsmen and want to see others overcome and finish.  You can sign up as a group  as well and run with your friends.

To me, the Warrior Dash is just another physical activity I enjoy putting my body through.  I know a few may not like to hear that, but I enjoy doing extreme activities.  I wrestled professionally for about 13 years (mostly on weekends), bungee jumped, went to Mountain Creek when it was Action (Traction) Park, played tons of sports when I was younger, and just enjoy a great challenge.

When it came to physical activities when I was younger, I was lucky to do what I did.  My vision provided some, not major, limitations in activities my parents would let me do.  Football was out.  The one sport I wish I had played in my life.

At the age of 10 in 1984, wrestling was the one sport I stayed with.  Did not give it up.  Loved to wrestle.  In eighth grade, I went through the season undefeated in the heavyweight weight class (149-275 lb, I weighed 163) and took first place in two county tournaments.   was able to climb the ropes in gym class using just my arms.  My sophomore year in high school I made varsity at 189 lbs.

I held my head just a little higher after making varsity after years of being teased, bullied, and made to feel insignificant by my peers.  To many, it didn’t matter and some teasing continued, even from some of my teammates.

But it never stopped me from quitting wrestling or anything I did.  I persevered though it.  I have always had this mentality that I can do anything I put my mind to, no matter what my limitations are in life.  I never like to hear the word “NO” or “you can’t do that”.

My attitude is “Yes” and “watch me”.

That was until some news I received over the summer of 1991.  I noticed a change in vision.  I had to visit a specialist in New York because my condition could not be diagnosed by my specialist in New Jersey.

I was attended to by one of the three leading specialists in the world regarding my vision issue.  I underwent three and a half hours of testing to determine what my vision issues were.

It was determined I had subretnal neovascularization with pathological myopia.  Say that three times fast.

I can.

To sum up the condition, imagine looking through two scars on your eyes everyday.  You can see, but not perfectly and with some vision loss.  That is me.  Doctors told me no more wrestling.

I was devastated.  I cried for a long time on that one.

At the age I was diagnosed, I was informed my condition occurs in one out of three million my age.  It is a form of wet macular degeneration that normally happens to people in their 60’s and 70’s.

I was officially a winner in the unlucky lottery.

If I strained the blood vessels in my eyes significantly it could increase the scarring from blood leakage behind the eye.  This was what the doctors were worried about and advised me not to wrestle or do any extraneous physical activities.

So, for my final two seasons on the wrestling team I was the team manager and recorded all the wrestlers matches.  My senior year I was an assistant freshman wrestling coach.  I had good knowledge, what can I say.

Yes, I know I had on a sweater.

But after high school I went into professional wrestling.  Yes, I know I was told not to wrestle but I did it anyway.

It was what I wanted to do and I was not going to let anyone tell me otherwise.  I miss the physicality.  I enjoyed hitting and being hit.  Not too hard of course.  But I enjoyed it.  I love putting my body out there.  The adrenaline rush makes me smile.  If I could have gone into MMA instead of wrestling,  I would have.

For years I wrestled and did other physical activities, including weight lifting, with no other damage any doctor can make out.  I have been in the clear.  I have always said every time I go out there and do something I risk the odds.

Odds makers in Las Vegas have gone broke betting on me.  I am pretty good with numbers.  I can figure rough odds playing poker.

Knowing my limitations and abilities does keep me a step ahead.  If I need to pull the plug on something or realize a limitation.  I will stop with no hesitation.  I may be crazy, but I am not stupid.

I am a very headstrong, determined individual.  When I set my mind to something, I set to accomplish what I start.  I went headfirst into filming a documentary and learned on the fly about film making.  Major thanks to Anthony Artis and others on their guidance.

The Hardcore Champion. Retired undefeated with the belt. I still have it!

The Warrior Dash is just another challenge I KNOW I can accomplish.  If you don’t challenge yourself you will never know what you are able to accomplish.  One can never realize their full potential.

I never want to look back and say I never tried.  It is better to attempt and fail, than to not try at all.  OK, so someone may have said that before me but it works well here (Thanks Ant!).

I keep repeating a scene from the movie “Rocky Balboa” in my head.  Rocky tells Rocky Jr. that it is not about how hard you get hit it is about how hard you come back from that hit.  That no matter how much you feel you are being hit further down you fight back that much harder.

Hey, draw inspiration from whatever adrenaline boosting IV you can get it from.  As long as you do something about it.

I am dedicating my race on Saturday to two groups.  For those visually impaired, who can see and do more than their limitations let them.  Also,  for those younger who need the confidence to fight back and overcome obstacles & realize their full potential.  I am not sure if there is a non-profit or .org for that one.

I think the obstacles I’ve faced in life have set me up well mentally for the obstacles at the Warrior Dash.  Glad I was able to get my body physically capable as well.

I know the Warrior Dash is going to be fun.  Another event in the long line of physical activities I decided to sacrifice my body to.  I know I am going to hate the cardio in between the obstacles.  I hate doing cardio, but a necessary evil.  It is the obstacles I am looking forward to the most.  Getting down and dirty, using my hands, climbing ropes, jumping over walls, stopping speeding bullets.

OK, I got carried away.

I plan on doing one of these events a year.  My wife Gina wanted me to do the Super Spartan Race in September as well.  No way I am ready for an 8 mile race.  But for my 40th birthday, I do plan on running the Tough Mudder.

Here comes another e-mail from my mother.

Jets Need To Focus On Season, Not One Game

Sometimes, football seems so easy, right? Now that the NFL has resumed operations players, owners, coaches, fans, media, can all travel down that hard working path that is the NFL season..

The prime directive? To win the Super Bowl. Unless you are Rex Ryan, in which case the goal is apparently to stay on the front pages, be heard in the opening segments of SportsCenter, and beat the New England Patriots.

Ryan is one of the better coaches the NFL has to offer. The New York Jets, regardless of whether you like, love, hate, or despise them, are a very good football team. The short list of top Super Bowl contenders this season? Jets, Steelers, Patriots, Eagles, Packers. Until a few seasons ago the Jets were an afterthought.

It doesn’t matter what one thinks about Ryan and the Jets. They are a solid team. The Jets feature a successful young quarterback in Mark Sanchez, a big play receiver in Santonio Holmes, and a hard-hitting and well-coached defense, anchored by two of the leagues best cover corners in Darrell Revis and Antonio Cromartie.

The last two AFC title games have featured the Jets and the last three seasons, they’ve gone 9-7, 9-7, and 10-6. The Jets are no doubt a serious contender, able to beat any opponent any week of the season.  But with a shortened training camp due to the lockout, these guys need to get ready & work as a team faster to make the same run they have been making.

There’s a problem though — the New England Patriots. This is where it gets strange because when another team is a problem it’s usually because they can’t be beat.  And Rex loves to find ways to focus his time, energy, and mouth on the Patriots.

Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots shakes hands with Rex Ryan of the New York on November 22, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots won 31-14. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

For years, the Boston Red Sox had a two-headed monster that they were fighting: an inability to win a World Series and a New York rival that always seemed to have their number. In 2004 they cut off both heads, beating the Yankees in the ALCS and then sweeping St. Louis in the World Series.

The Jets already know how to beat New England. Last season the Jets took two of three from the Pats including a demoralizing defeat handed to the Pats in Foxboro in the playoffs. The Patriots should be in the rearview mirror for the Jets now, it’s all about the Super Bowl right?

Wrong, Rex Ryan has an odd obsession with New England and he just can’t stop talking about them. Every press conference seems to be punctuated with a bitter speech about how much better the Jets are than the Patriots. Last year in the run-up to a divisional playoff game in New England, he declared the game the most important game in Jets history.  Wouldn’t that be Super Bowl III?

The Jets won 28-21 and it wasn’t really that close. The problem, of course, is that the Jets followed up that win with a stinker in the AFC title game, losing to the Steelers after falling behind 24-3 in the first half.  They left their blood, sweat, and tears in Foxboro and played with their heart at Heinz Field.  But heart was not enough.

It’s probably hard for a team to show up and play as if their season is on the line when they’ve just won the biggest game in team history. The goal is the Super Bowl and the problem with Ryan’s irrational and constant obsession with the Patriots is that the Jets will never be awarded a Super Bowl ring for beating New England.

In a recent press conference, Ryan continued his infinite stream of New England comedy.

“I think we have to find somebody out there to beat New England besides us, I think that would help,” Ryan said. “Anybody out there that wants to sign up for it? Are you good enough as a team to beat the New England Patriots? Forget about us, are you good enough to go out and beat the New England Patriots? I’m challenging the league.”

Rex Ryan has two signature traits. One is running his mouth, and the other is fielding very good football teams. One used to be his time for shutting down a buffet.  At some point one of those traits may begin to take away form the other. Everything Ryan says at this point is something he’s said already in some form.  He is going into more reruns than Sinfeld.

Two weeks ago, Ryan claimed the Jets team he has for the upcoming 2011 season is his best team ever. Something he’s claimed in each of the last two seasons, just like he’s claimed they would win the Super Bowl.  How can one make that claim when all the players had yet to be signed or known?  This 2011 team has yet to play in a game together for Rex to determine if they are better than last year.  But that is Rex Ryan.

Sean Ellis recently signed with the Patriots after being dropped by Gang Green.  That move did not sit too well with Rex.  It just added more fuel to an ever burning bonfire.  Ellis is determined to let the Jets know how wrong the move was on their part.

Confidence is nice. Showing your team that you believe in them is good too. Eventually, those words become somewhat meaningless if there’s no follow through.

Stop worrying about New England, the rest of the league, and stop telling everyone how good you are and how good your team is Rex. Show a better poker face instead of letting your ego write checks your butt can’t cash.  If you want people to believe you, you don’t need to say anything; you just need to win.