Posts

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.

No Monopoly On Free Parking Around MetLife Stadium

Ever since I gave up my season tickets I have not been able to park by the stadium when I film my documentary.  One needs to obtain a parking pass to park on the premises.  For a PSL or season ticket holder, the offer is there when you buy your tickets.  Those who buy tickets for single games can buy a parking pass on Stub Hub, Craigslist, NFL Ticket Exchange, or other areas.  You may have to pay a little more than the season ticket holder but at least you get to park at the stadium.  For someone like me who is trying to save a couple bucks, trying to find a close place to park for free is not that easy.  Now it is almost impossible.

Last year I did some scouting of nearby locations and found one.  The Sheraton hotel right across Route 3.  It was close enough and provided free parking.  The one problem was the walk across Route 3.  It reminded me of the Activision game Freeway for the Atari 2600.  I was glad there was an overpass to use to walk right onto the stadium lot to make that rip easy.  Still had to watch out for cars, but it was a good walk.  Sometimes good things do not last long.

The second game of the season saw Stub Hub control the parking at the Sheraton.  They were charging $25 per vehicle to park there plus an additional cost for transportation to and from the stadium.  I told the attendant I was only going to the hotel.  He let me in so I was able to park for free.  That was the only time last season Stub Hub controlled the parking at the Sheraton.

Stub Hub Rates At The Sheraton

Other businesses around the stadium were charging for parking at various point during the season.  So those who tried to do what I did had no choice but to pay for parking wherever they parked.

The rest of the season no one controlled the parking at the Sheraton.  It was really the only place one could park close by for free and get over to the stadium.  I didn’t see too many other Jets fans there.  It made going to the game easy and hassle free.  The only issue was a long walk.  I did not mind that.  I thought I could rely on using the Sheraton parking as the place to park close for free in the future.  Was I wrong.

This season it appears every local business is charging for off site parking.  Stub Hub still charges $25 per vehicle at the Sheraton.  They also charge $5 to get over to the stadium and $5 to get back to the Sheraton per person.  Nice little program they have.  Homestead Suites next door charges $30 per vehicle.  It seems $25-$30 is the going rate for non stadium parking.  Many provide transportation but few still do not.

It seems every local business is that has a parking lot is trying to make extra money off the fans.  What seemed to be a way to keep some cash in the pocket is now a business venture for those looking to take that cash back out of the fans pocket.

From Redd’s Restaurant on Route 120 to others on Paterson Plank Rd, it seems many are off site parking for Jets and Giants fans.  If one has a residence close enough to MetLife Stadium, that individual could even charge for parking.  How could someone with a home do this? Easily.

Just do what the rest of the businesses do.  Apply for a permit through your town to provide the parking.  Albeit you should have sufficient space & offer transportation to and from the facility, but it can be done.  That is all these other businesses do.  They get a permit from the NJMC to be able to have permission to charge for parking.

To find out some of this information was not hard at all.  But I felt I was being deceived.  Last Sunday I was told from a Carlstadt officer to talk to a representative in the Parking & Concessions department at MetLife Stadium and a Lieutenant in the NJ State Police.   The officer said these people would have the information I was looking for.

So I started out by calling MetLife Stadium and instantly found the individual I was looking for.  The representative was very candid and spoke off the record so I will not be giving their name.  They said the stadium has no dealings or business with any outside party looking to charge or provide off-site parking for Jets or Giants games.  These parties have to go through the Meadowlands C Commission to get permission to charge for parking.

The Meadowlands Commission serves and the zoning and planning agency for a 30.4 square mile area along the Hackensack River covering parts of 14 municipalities in Bergen and Hudson Counties.

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) issues a Certificate of Approval for an Outdoor Event (The outdoor event in this case is off-site parking for patrons attending events at NJSEA facilities).  The NJMC does not charge an application fee.

An application for an outdoor event is submitted to the NJMC for review with one copy of a site plan indicating the location of event areas.  The application is accompanied by copies of notification letters to Municipal Police and Fire Departments.  The NJMC must receive approval letters from both the Police and Fire Departments before issuing any approval.  Outdoor events shall not exceed a total of 14 days per property per year.

Applications must be submitted a minimum of 15 business days prior to the event. So far ten applications have been approved this year.  The NJMC only deals with the property management companies and not the business tenants.

Due to safety concerns regarding pedestrian traffic between the off-site parking locations and the NJSEA facilities, the municipal police departments require that pedestrians and vehicles be directed in a safe and orderly manner and that shuttle buses be provided continuously throughout the course of the events to prevent pedestrians from walking between the site and the NJSEA facilities.

The MetLife Stadium official endorses the use of shuttles from off-site parking facilities.  They do not wish to see people walking over Route 3 or other major highways to get to the stadium.  They also encourage the use of public transportation.  They prefer fans take buses or trains from the Secaucus Junction to get to the stadium.

So in the case of Stub Hub, they deal with the Sheraton directly.  The cost for their shuttle is optional as some opt to walk over to the stadium.  So one could drive to see what businesses are not charging for p[parking.  But one would have to consider their car might be ticketed or towed for parking illegally.  But some fans will take that risk just to save a couple bucks.

If you are one of many who purchase single game tickets and prefer to drive, look into a parking permit first.  You might end up paying face value for it of a few dollars more  It is better than the other options of giving your money to an off site lot and risk having a shuttle or not.  In my opinion, get the parking permit.  Parking at the stadium is more fun as it enables you to be able to tailgate.  Do not be the chicken who crossed the road.

Prime Tailgating Locations Identified At MetLife Stadium

When I started LevysBakeryProductions.com I wanted to keep people and Jets fans informed about my documentary, Gang Greed and other projects.  I soon began writing about more than that.  About my experiences while filming both Jets games and NFL alternatives.  Focusing on Jets fans and tailgating before and after games.  It seemed that the more I did at the stadium, the more I was learning about what it takes to have a successful and entertaining tailgate.

It seemed no matter how much I tried to focus on the Jets and how their decisions affect their fans, the more tailgating became a focus at many points.  Yes many would like to be season ticket holders and attend the game.  But many of those fans also want to tailgate to have a true football experience.  Tailgating has become just as important as attending the games to many.  Some do it small with just themselves while others go above and beyond to create a lavish affair.

Everyday people come to my website to look for the best places to park, how to get parking passes, what tailgating foods people prepare, where Fireman Ed’s seats are, and other topics related to Jets tailgating.  All of those searches let me know how my website has become a destination for those looking to tailgate at Jets home games .

I have journeyed over the blacktop landscape at the stadium.  So today I will start with three things that will hopefully make your tailgating experience at, ugh, MetLife Stadium that much better.  Location, location, location.  Now here we have a map of the MetLife stadium parking.  Now depending on what color parking pass you have will determine where one might think they will have a great location to tailgate.Now many feel the best areas to tailgate are the concrete or dirt borders that surround each parking area.  I happen to agree.  It gives you space to put your grill, tent, and other tailgating items.  It also provided room for those groups that have mass tailgaters.  But one must arrive before they open the gates and wait on line, this happens five hours before kick off.  This will ensure you get a prime spot on the outlying border.
Many of those with Winnebago’s, trailers, campers, smokers, will set up along borders.  The key is to find the spots before they do or get into the mix.  The tailgating security will not tell you how to set up your tailgate in these areas hence why many go for it off the bat.  If you have a lot of people coming or a lot of gear, get there as early as possible.  If not, expect to wait on long lines, maybe over an hour.

Now, if you are not one of the lucky few to get a spot on the outskirts, I suggest setting up next to the lot markers.  The lot markers are easy to find, they are also the night parking lights.  Easy to find your car after the game and if you get a few cars parked in a row there it makes a group tailgate easier to set up.  Many do this in the yellow parking lots.  The green ones fill in closer to game time as those fans seem to care more about the game than tailgating.

In some lots, at the end of each parking aisle is a small blocked off section.  Nothing big, but small areas outlines for non parking use.  Some take the end spots so they can have this small area to enhance their tailgate.  I have seen some good set ups within this space and their parking area.  These are mainly in the Yellow lots and very few in the green.  The further away one parks from the stadium the easier it is to get away with certain tailgating set ups.

Parking lot D in the yellow section provides a good combination of both.  There are only four rows/two lanes of parking so the tailgating there seems to be more compact and easy to set up.  Bathrooms are close and if you get a lucky enough spot, you could park under the bridge from the stadium to the Izod Center for shelter from rain.  There is even a dirt section close to Route 120 where one can set up a tailgate well.  It may be tight over there, but there are good spots for setting up your tailgate.

I have yet to make it over to the NON PSL parking.  From what I understand, one can not tailgate in the garage.  If one does decide to tailgate over by the Izod Center, you need to make it quick.  The time it takes you to pack up and walk over the stadium is not a hop, skip, and jump.  Only in Lot B is tailgating easy for NON PSL holders.  In the numbered parking, same rules apply as if you parked in the PSL parking.  One just needs to have a quick set up to ensure making it over by kickoff.

It does not matter where you park, the stadium has employees walking around making sure people keep their tailgate limited to only one spot.  Keep any grill or tent close to your vehicle and do not stick out far into the driving area.  They will tell you to move it.  That is why people tailgate in groups or find areas they can set up that does not fall in designated parking areas.  Groups like L7 Tailgate, L5 Tailgate, Frank Conway and his friends, and others always tailgate in big numbers.  They know with more space comes better room to have fun before any game.

Some friends and family look forward to tailgating before every home game.  Sometimes more than the game.  It gives people a chance to catch up, reminisce, and for others, a chance to meet someone new.  I know of a couple who met during Jets tailgating and several years later, went to a Jets game  the same day they were married.  So always choose your spot wisely when deciding where to set up to tailgate.  It may determine not just how big your tailgate can be, but the kinds of memories it will create. 

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.

Players & Fans Wait Together On End To NFL Lockout

When sports crown a new NBA champion & NHL Stanley Cup winner, it begins the summer sports lull that is usually filled by the start of NFL mini-camps and the start of training camp.  A buzz normally fills the air on what teams are looking good in training camp, even before the preseason opener.

This year is different. This year we are being submitted to endless baseball highlights & whatever else ESPN can show during SportsCenter due to continued arguing over a billion dollar industry.  A summer that should be filled with players and teams preparing for gridiron battle.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has reduced his pay to $1 for the duration of the lockout. With each passing day not being paid, players miss out on crucial practices and playing tim. However, fans have it much worse: they are stuck at home with no hope of a Super Bowl come January. Stuck with Packers fans bragging about their epic title run.  Stuck talking about a season that may never come.

Goodell says that the lockout isn’t just to benefit players and owners though; fans will benefit as well.  Fans never benefit when players and owners talk about what money they are owed.

Fans wait to make certain decisions before the season starts.  What single games do they want to purchase, what away games to attend, what to buy in preparation for tailgating, when to buy that new HDTV, and other decisions usually made before football begins.

Certain fans have already given up their season tickets.  Some have had it with riisng ticket prices and others just feel the lockout was the last straw in seeing how little the fans mean to the NFL.  Some Jets fans have not just given up their seats, but trying to sell their PSL’s as well.

“That’s why we are trying to get a better economic model” Goodell told reporters last week. “And I think everyone understands that. You (the fans) are not being left out of the equation. The fans are a big part of that equation and a big part of the success of NFL football.”  He sees costs being passed down to the fan that would be prevented with a better business model.  Costs are already too high so any economic change for the fan is good.

Free agency is a critical time for teams to acquire new players to help supplement their squad. The big signings that occur every year and change the landscape of the NFL excite fans for the coming season. This is when we can stop talking about the Super Bowl champion and have a reason to feel that this year is different.

Last year former Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers was probably the biggest name amongst free-agent signees. Peppers went on to be a contributor for the Chicago Bears with 8 sacks against constant double teams. Bears fans were sure they were on the right path to win the big game.

Kenny Britt awaiting judges decision. Credit: NJ.com

This year it’s supposed to be whatever team can land Nnamdi Asomugha, a cornerback who has proven that he can shut down half the field. Unfortunately, he won’t find a home until the lockout finally comes to an end.  Same goes with the NFL rookies.  Drafted by their new organizaton, they can not be signed or talked to.

Our favorite players are also getting into trouble because they have too much time on their hands.  Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt was charged with resisting arrest and tampering with evidence this week when he crushed a joint as police approached him.  The police didn’t find any drugs on him, but this is likely a situation that would have been avoided if players were focused on the season.

Now the Titans are entering the season with a diminished receiving group and are likely facing another sub-par year.  Less time to work with coaches, less time to improve.

Former Giants and Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress just got out of jail but can’t sign with a team because of the lockout.  The best he can do is workout and practice with others so he can get into some kind of playing shape.

Formerly a dynamic game changing receiver and Super Bowl hero, Burress will enthuse the fans of whatever team he goes to – if and when he does actually get signed.

I hope Goodell is sincere that the resulting post-lockout business model reduces costs that are being passed down to fans. We are the reason the league is so successful, and the more of the league year us fans lose to the lockout the more interested we will become in things not related to the NFL.  Goodell should learn from what happened to MLB and the NHL.

American Dream Project Will Benefit Jets, Giants, & Meadowlands

Standing in a building that has remained unchanged and likely to get over $200 million in tax incentives, Gov. Christie ushered in the arrival of the “American Dream” in North Jersey last week.  The much-maligned and long-stagnant Xanadu development at the Meadowlands, which Christie called the “the ugliest damn building in New Jersey, and maybe America,” along with everyone else who drives by it, will get a makeover by the Canadian developer who built Mall of America in Minnesota.

Next to the Jets and Giants stadium, with a dead-on view of the Manhattan skyline, the newly minted complex, called American Dream at Meadowlands, will feature high-end shopping, a 26-screen movie theater, nightclubs, a performing arts theater, restaurants, an indoor ice-skating rink, and an indoor ski slope (with moguls and a snowboard half-pipe), according to Triple Five, the developer.

Governor Chris Christie, NJSEA Advisory Chairman Jon Hanson and Triple Five Chairman Nader Ghermezian announced plans to operate the retail and entertainment complex called American Dream Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J Credit: Retailtrafficmag.com

And in a structural addition to the original Xanadu, there will be glass-domed amusement and water parks – with sand and palm trees.  Triple Five has been know to do this in Mall of America and other malls across Canada.  They design their malls to be places of destination for everything under one roof rather than finding entertainment is several locations.

Reuters reported that Triple Five  will be developing the world’s largest and most comprehensive retail, entertainment, amusement, recreation, and tourism project ever built.  Not a bad way to help crate jobs and revenue for New Jersey.  The economic impact for New Jersey would be $3.8 billion according to Triple Five.

Many might wonder how this will benefit the Jets and Giants.  What this will do is add options to fans and families for weekend getaways.  So instead of a Sunday of football, there is a weekend of activities.  The Jets and Giants could run activities a few days before across the road to get people psyched up for Sunday’s game.  Not to mention tie ins and other pregame festivities run by the organizations.

Show up on a Friday night to a local hotel and have dinner at American Dream and do whatever fun activity there is to do.  There is something there for every member of the family.  On Saturday one can do so much in one location, why go anywhere else?  Sunday is football.  Those not attending the game will have restaurants to watch the game in, some will shop as other family members attend the game.

The project will get at least $200 million in tax incentives from the state, Christie said at a news conference last Tuesday inside the 2.4 million-square-foot, partially built structure. But he refused to provide more details about the deal his administration worked out with Triple Five.  I am sure a lot of those breaks also include some incentives for certain NJ politicians.

The Sierra Club blasted the arrangement, releasing a statement even before the media tour of the facility was over.  The environmental group said American Dream, sitting on the most valuable piece of real estate in New Jersey, would end up getting $350 million in tax subsidies once it expands, as it has planned.  If NJ is in need of the business, jobs, and revenue, there should be not be given that much tax subsidies, but then again, NJ tax payers do not make those decisions.

The planned American Dream after completion Credit: NJ.com

Triple Five may want to call this the American Dream, but it is a nightmare to taxpayers that will pick the pockets of us regular New Jersey citizens.  It is ludicrous that at a time when many are hurting financially, local governments are broke, and property taxes are rising, that we are subsidizing this monster mall.

According to the Christie administration, the complex will create more than 9,000 construction jobs and 30,000 permanent jobs once it opens. Officials expect between 50 million and 60 million annual visitors, with half of them tourists.  Expect big numbers on football weekends as well.  I am sure the teams will set up weekend packages with tickets.

Most of American Dream will open in the fall of 2013, in time for the Super Bowl scheduled to be played at the new Meadowlands stadium.  One will wonder if American Dreams theater’s will air the Super Bowl to keep patrons there.  I am sure screens will air it all over the place to keep people shopping, riding rides, and doing what it takes to keep them there to spend money.

Triple Five plans to invest $1.5 billion atop the $2 billion already spent there, and expand by nearly a third, or one million square feet. The existing structure is well on its way to completion, with extensive aesthetic changes planned. Other essentials – such as escalators and the ski lift – also are in place.

One can only wonder if the expansion will take up more room in the non PSL parking.  Will it create trouble for those parking by the Izod Center?  Will this expansion do anything to disrupt the tailgating that goes on.  No one can tailgate in the parking garage so that is out.  Also, with the building through 2013, how will this affect fans parking for Jets and Giants games?  We can only wait and see.

The theater at American Dream will have seating for 2,000 to 3,000 people. Screens in the center of the complex will change colors on football game day, depending on whether the Jets or Giants are playing next door. And there are plans to build either a bar or movie theater on an outdoor patio that has spectacular views of New York, about 10 miles to the east.

Current Xanadu structure.......bleech!!! Credit NJ.com

Most of all, Triple Five vowed to replace the massive multicolored exterior panels, so hated by Christie and most of us here in New Jersey.  Driving by it it looks like a rust colored piece of trash.  Triple Five plans to give it a more glowing feel so people will be amazed at it look from a distance.

The Jets and Giants have both been waiting for someone to pick it up across the road.  With the American Dream coming in, it can only help their overall business from an off the field point of view.  It provides more opportunities to hold events.  The restaurants, stores, and other facilities might even have events or specials to help draw customers to spend more.  Clothing stores will have sales on jets and Giants merchandise so fans can have it in time for the game on Sunday.

I am sure Triple Five has been in touch with the Jets and Giants.  To see what opportunities it can provide each other.  Not to mention what it can do to help each other make more revenue during the 2014 Super Bowl.  Triple Five knew the opportunity and make a calculated decision.  The NY teams will have a presence at American Dream.  Might even see ESPN do some broadcasting from there at some point.

Once American Dream is completed, New jersey will have a another destination that many will flock to for vacations.  We have Atlantic City, the Jersey shore, and now American Dream.  Being close to NYC, it creates a good destination for those wanting to visit both.  It also provide the Jets and Giants an opportunity to keep fans close for an entire weekend.  But how will it benefit them financially?  We can only wait and see.  Right now, Triple Five & New jersey seem to be the only one set to profit.

 

Fireman Ed Tells A Tale Of Two Stadiums

With football in a standstill right now, people can only talk about the upcoming draft.  Next season seems like something Santa should be bringing as everyone has it on their wish list.  But you will find those who are hopeful.  The ones who are already counting the days until the Jets have their first ever home game in the new stadium against the rival Giants.  A game many always look forward to.  Some fans look forward to it more than others.  One in particular is Fireman Ed Anzalone.

I sat down with with Ed in June of last year to get his thoughts in many areas.  Ranging from the Jets chant to the Jets, to the new stadium and the PSLs.  This time, I wanted to get his thoughts on what he thought about the season, the stadium, and if there will be a 2011 season.  Ed, like always, shares some thoughts for the camera and has other thoughts off camera.

The Fireman Ed/Christopher Black Fiasco Credit:CBS News

In the old stadium, Ed sat along the 20 yard line and had a great view of the field.  Everyone knew where he was and it was easy for him to get up and lead the Jet faithful in the chants.  Now, he has his seats in the end zone behind the goal posts where people have to look and see if he can be located.  Not the best place to be to lead the crowd.  But with the cameras and video screen, it helps the situation.

Ed knew the people he sat around in the old stadium.  These were people who had their seats for over 20 years.  Now, he is surrounded by different people every game.  When Green Bay came to face the Jets, there were two rows of Packer fans surrounding him.  Ed says it is a revolving door of fans who sit in the seats in the end zone.  At least by him.  Certain ticket holders look at the seats as an investment and will make their money back charging for tickets on a per game basis.

Ed notices how many are not really there to see the game.  Ed says that they diehards are the ones who sit in the end zone to about the 20 yard line in the lower section.  From about the 20-25 yard line to the other 20-25 yard line are the fans who are not truly there to see the game.  They care more about the VIP clubs, Coaches Club, bars, lounges, and other places to watch the game.  Ed says those seats are empty during the game, but the TV camera will not pick that up.  The seats are gray for a reason.  It makes the seat look filled on TV, even when it is not.

Ed on WFAN's Boomer & Carton Credit:WFAN

Ed has paid for four PSL’s in the lower part of the end zone.  He went for the cheapest PSL’s he could afford.  People question him actually purchasing them or if the Jets gave them to him.  Ed knows that if he takes anything like that from the team, he will have to owe them something.  He does not want to take anything form them or owe them anything.  He pays like everyone else, and does not like it.  He is stuck sitting around a revolving door of fans.  Ed knows the real fans, the ones who stick it out in the worst weather sit closer to the top.  Sounds like the hierarchy in the Roman Coliseum.

Speaking of true fans, Ed has even spoken with several Giants fans.  Many fans do not like the new stadium at all for several reasons.  For one, this stadium does not have their name on it.  There are no red and blue seats.  They have to share it equally with the Jets kills some Giants fans.  Plus, some feel cheated by John Mara.  They know his father would have never have approved anything his son has done.  They feel fans have been treated better over their 90 year history and they have been slapped in the face.

Ed is optimistic the 2011 season will happen.  if it doesn’t he does hold the team owners responsible.  They have so much power and finances that they do not have to worry.  This situation shows just how greedy they really are and not willing to give in to the players.  He does feel the fans are caught in the middle and are always caught in situations with no thought.  Ed believes if there is no 2011 season, then shame on the owners for doing so.  Sometimes, there has to be give and take.  Not just take.

Leading The First Chant In New Stadium Credit:JetsTwit.com

There comes a time when some know their time is up.  When a torch needs to be passed.  Ed knows that time is coming soon for him.  He is over 50 and knows he can not do the Jets chants much longer.  He said if someone came along and thinks they can do it or takes a shot and doing what he does, then he would step aside gracefully.  Ed believes in a few years, there will be some other Jets diehard fan doing what he does, and younger.  And Ed is ok with that.  he is content to just attend and watch the games.

Ed is not shy when it comes to giving his opinions.  I just do not feel like giving them all away right now.  Then what would be left for the documentary?  I may decide to give people more in a little bit.  It all depends on the lockout being lifted.  There are appeals and so much more that can happen.  So instead of writing about the Jets, I will have more on Fireman Ed.

Football is entering a new era.  The NFL will not be the same after this lockout.  The teams, players, and even the fans know that the sport of football has been replaced with the business of football.  Fans are not fans any longer, they are consumers.  Looked at for the dollar they spend.  Long gone are the days where you knew people names in the stadium.  Where you could get up close and personal.  Now that is done on Facebook and Twitter.  Ed saw the change coming years ago.  He may be known as Fireman Ed to everyone, but to the Jets, he is both a consumer and a brand they can push to make them more money.

Fans Remember The Past, Easier Than Thinking About Future

With no talk about free agency, contract negotiations, or off season workouts, there is not much football talk going on.  All people can do right now is discuss the draft in a few weeks and make their predictions.  It reminds me of the book/movie “All Quiet On The Western Front”.

Every football fan looks forward to going to the games.  Not just to see their favorite team, but to be with friends and family.  It is a time to relax, have fun, and have experiences that will turn into memories.  I am sure a lot of people are reflecting on some now, hoping there will be a season this year.  If not, they will reflect on seasons past and the fun they had.  For many Jet s fans, the memories are all we have the past 40 years.

Many of us reflect on previous seasons.  Games we attended with our father, brother, mother, sister, grandfather, uncle,  or other family members who may not be with us anymore.  It did not matter how bad the game was, one would always find something good to remember about the day.  Even if it was a bad game, there was something about it that made it a positive experience.  Many talk about how much they hated Shea Stadium and Giants Stadium.  But they will always mention how much fun those times were in those bad situations.

My brother Ean and my father Jerry

If you are like me, you recall games you attended with someone who passed away.  I always think about my dad when I think about the Jets.  Every time I went to a game without him and sat in Section 226 Row 8, Seats 7 and 8 in Giants Stadium, I would think about him.  Walking around the new stadium while filming, I would thin about him and wonder what he would think about the new structure built for the financially elite.  Sometimes I would talk aloud to him, as if he was walking next to me.

A funny story my dad would always tell me was about the time he was headed to the AFL Championship game between the Jets and Oakland Raiders.  He was speeding and was pulled over.  He was sitting in a line of a dozen cars that were pulled over, dead last behind them all.  He was running late and wanted to be there by kick off.  He calls an officer over and explains he knows he was speeding and deserves the ticket.  He then explains to the officer why he was speeding and shows him the tickets to the game.  The officer tells him to hold on and be patient.  Less than five minutes later, the officer returns with the ticket and tells my father to leave.  He left before the other cars pulled over did.

He was the type that would have looked at the new stadium in amazement.  Amazed at all the technology that was put into it and laugh when I would have to explain the reasons why.  He was the type that just liked to watch the game, not much else.  He would follow the changes in the game, but laugh and smile at the tech advances that are interwoven into it.  He would have been 76 today.  Still feels like yesterday.  Every time the football season begins I think of all those games we went to.  I know some others who feel the same as I do.

While filming in the parking lot at Giants Stadium in 2008, I came across Tommy Wilson. Such a dedicated Jets fan he owned the license plates “JETS” & “12 JETS”.  I later find out Jets owner Woody Johnson offered to buy the “JETS” plate from him.  Always wearing his #12 Joe Namath jersey and always at the games, his personality and presence felt like my father’s.  I guess that is why his story touches me even more than others I met while filming.

Tommy was honored in 2002 by the NFL and Visa Pro Football Hall for Fans.  He wrote the winning essay as to why he should be the fan to represent the Jets in the Hall of Fans.  He held 10 season tickets for close to 40 years.  His restaurants was named after the lot he tailgated in, Lot 12A.  A true “Super” Fan in my book.

There is more I can say about Tommy but do not want to give away his entire story.  I went back to get a follow up in September of 2009 and he pushed it to another game.  When I emailed him about it in early November of 2009, his wife Mary Lou informed me he passed away in early October.  I was deeply saddened to hear the news.  He had purchased several PSL’s too.  Tommy lived and breathed the Jets, helped to pay for the new stadium, is in the Hall of Fans for the Jets, but yet was just another fan to the Jets organization.

DSC07211

Tommy Jr, his sister, and Mary Lou Wilson

I met up with his widow Mary Lou and her son Tommy Jr this past October.   Mary Lou thought about giving up the seats after he passed but knew Tommy would not have wanted that.  Last year was a hard season but this year was different.  Once again, many people who used to tailgate with them at 13A were not there.  Some did not get PSL’s, others did not have the right parking permits, while others feel it is not the same without Tommy.  For the remainder of tailgating last year, it was very somber without Tommy.  He was the nucleus that held that tailgate together.  Tommy Jr. got a tattoo to remember his father, even though his father did not like tattoos.

Mary Lou and Tommy Jr. always reflect on their memories about Tommy.  It makes them smile and feel good about being a Jet fan.  Even with next season uncertain, they still reflect and always will.  Tommy was one of those fans that made you feel good when he talked.  I guess he holds a place in my heart because he reminded me of my own father.  There is a strange connection to fans from a certain era in football.  An era where it was about the game, not the politics.

Everyone knows the kind of fans I refer to.  The ones where they smile when they talk about past seasons.  When memories were about actions on the field, not battles in courts off the field.  Older generations of fans seem to have this glow in their eyes.  Where you do not mind listening to their stories.  The kind where you can sit with a beer and listen for hours if you need a reason to smile.

Right now fans need a reason to smile.  They need a reason to believe a season will happen this year.  Many look forward to those home games, not just to tailgate, but to create memories with friends and family.  50% of ticket money was already due, PSL payment in several months.  Do the Jets think the season will happen?  But when a season looks like it may not happen, there is nothing to look forward to.

As it stands, all we can do is think ahead to a season that may or may not happen.  We can reflect about the games we have all been to before.  Many will talk about the past two seasons as they ended in trips to the AFC Championship game.  Looking forward to a season where a Super Bowl could be in the Jets grasp for the first time n over 40 years.  But all we can do is sit back and wait.

There may be no season.  Then all we can do is reflect on the 2011 season that never was.  How we all waited for players and owners to come to an agreement to end a lockout.  Where the courts made the decision instead of the NFL.  In 1987 at least there were some games played.  Who knows what will happen this year.

Ahh, the memories.