News has broke that Fireman Ed has hung up his persona. No longer does he want to be the face of the Jets and the fans who go to games. He wants to be just a man who sits at a(n overpriced) seat in the stadium. For many it's a laughing stock that this man became the face of the fans, for others it's truly crushing to see a man we identified with every Sunday step down in the midst of a season. Does this affect the organization at all or hold any value really? Probably not, other than more headlines and gossip being thrown around.
A brief history for those that may not know:
He did not create the Jets chant. (started up in the 300's with several people doing different variations, including one guy who would moon the crowd afterwards) He rose to fame because of the chant he stole/borrowed/used but was never put on the payroll of the Jets. He was given star treatment though at games, ceremonies, and other gatherings. He did grow up a Dolphin fan. (He says for the record he became a Jets fan when he was 10) He's been doing it since 1975 at the games, even though there was a few games about a decade ago that he missed due to injury. (I remember those for some odd reason) And now he's retiring the persona. Time will tell if this is it or whether he does come back.
So then what's the point:
I personally hold no ill will against him for stepping down. It's not that I really had a strong opinion about him personally either, I've met him once, he signed a ball and that was that. He's been a trooper through some horrendous years during my time and even before that. That he decided now is the time does strike me as poorly-timed, but understandable. Anyone who has been to a game this year knows there is a good reason. It has nothing to do with Tebowites and the legions of fans that have joined us. Nor does it have to do with the Sanchez backers, or the Ryan disciples or any other subset of fans. It has a lot to do with the overall attitude of the fans and the atmosphere that has turned downright nasty during this year.
Some perspective: I grew up with my grandfather's season tickets with his crew of 12 that became a group of 4. We had the last row underneath the skyboxes for years in the 300's at the old stadium splitting the 50. It always got rough up there, between the profanities, name-calling and as often when beer and sports mix: fighting. It became so common place, that during the 3rd quarter half our eyes were on the stands to watch a fight break out (yellow jackets swarming was a dead give away, and a sign things were going to be interesting). However, there was sort of a truce, that no matter what we thought, we all supported the Jets and those fans were just a bad apple of a large group.
But this year it's be taken it to another level, one that even shocked me at how divided we have become. The crowd has become fractured, tattered, and often flat out disrespectful to other Jet fans. (Again I'm not speaking for everyone, it's just what I've seen) I can only imagine what he goes through during a game when people think he has a say for the team or any other reason they come up with to hurl insults. As fans, we always look for the easy target, sometimes it's a player missing a tackle. In this case though, it might be the one guy who was the face of the fans, and often found himself the center of attention which he made a choice to accept.
If this is truly the reason he has left, it's understandable. He shouldn't have to go through confrontations just because he is Fireman Ed. At some point we all decide that the glory and attention aren't worth the problems that come along with it. If you think that just because he is a public figure he should suck it up, remember he doesn't get paid to do this, he does it for fun much like we all do when we go to games and cheer. The fact that it is our own fans that got him to quit because of how they treat him is saddening, considering he's been sued before for pushing a Giants fan and still stayed the course. .
For me and many others who went to game days at the Old Meadowlands and now Metlife there were two guarantees: The Jets showing up was not one, but I digress. One was a game will be played. And Ed would be there during the regular season. He became a defacto leader, a guy that would rally the troops in good and bad, and could change the momentum of a game with his one chant and thousands of supporters. There were several games where he did do just that, got the crowd into it, and gave the team a breathe of life that changed the outcome of a game. That's what he could and did do on multiple occasions. He was not a superstar in my book, just an average guy, but with an ability to rally thousands of people and 53 players on one sideline with his voice, movements and persona.
Maybe the point isn't about him, maybe it's about the reasoning of his departure and us as fans and how we need to reevaluate our fandom. We shouldn't flagrantly disrespect each other for having differences of opinion or supporting one person. We shouldn't result to crass, rude remarks, and we definitely shouldn't end up being hauled away by state troopers. As frustrating as this season has been, it's a reminder that sports are just like life, it has ups, downs, and elevators to hell.
As sad as it is to see a man give up what he loves, it also provides us with some perspective on what this organization means to us all. At some point, we all have given up arguing, whether it's on this site or at the stadium: one because we are frustrated and two, because at the end of the day, there's not much we can do. There's only so much before you have to say, I'm done. He got tired of arguing too evidently.
Unfortunately it was the same fans that echoed the 4 letters that rocked the Meadowlands for years that made him quit.
Whatever he decides to do, I wish him well as I do everyone whose ever been there at a game or on this board. We all root for the same team, and whether or not one man is there to lead us, it shouldn't change how or why we root for this team. Some people will say good riddance, other's like myself will be indifferent, and yet others will mourn not being able to see him do his chant every Sunday. But I think there is a lesson to be learned in there: Remember that ultimately we all, including him, still root for the guys in the Green and White.
I can promise this though: many will try to fill the void left by him, but no one will be him. Whoever ends up being that person will have to bring their own ingenuity, creativity and spark to rally the Jets and the fans into the future. It won't be easy, but hopefully the fans treat this person with respect and loyalty.