Fathers and daughters share a special bond, and I will always be proud that the relationship my father and I have is somehow stronger than most because of a football team he raised me to love.
My father is the best Jets fan I know, but he was also diagnosed with Alzheimers last year. I’ve slowly seen little personal traditions I shared with him come to an end. His bright personality and excitement has already changed.
His ability to recall new information and concentration has decreased faster than I expected. He can't keep up with the team the way he used to. I miss not being able to pick up the phone after breaking Jets news and not even having to tell him why I’m calling. I miss sitting at the kitchen table with him discussing the current state of the team. I know things have changed when my attempts at having a Jets conversation with him just last week end with him asking me if Revis is leaving.
I thought my first post on GGN would be about some UDFA I have too high hopes for, or why the 2013 Jets defense has me more excited than the Geico talking camel on Hump Day.
But in all honesty, my excitement for all things green and white is there because of my experiences growing up as a fan, my recollections of Sundays with my father either at the stadium or in front of the television.
The J-E-T-S chant was one such memory.
Back in November, news of "Fireman" Ed Anzalone "leaving" brought up many discussions regarding his "super fan" status and what he represented to fans and the organization. Then on Wednesday the news came down that the Jets organization, nine months later, is still trying to come up with a way to keep the signature chant alive without Ed. That revelation kick-started the debate again and got me thinking even more about my father.
There’s no special story behind the J-E-T-S chant. No magical reason for why it exists. The fact is, it does and has for years.
We all know the story. It started back at Shea Stadium as a battle between upper level fans in opposite end zones, each with their own leader of the chant. It didn’t take long for it to become a staple at Jets home games, and to me, Fireman Ed just happened to be the guy that kept tradition alive as time moved on.
Every ounce of passion I have for this team stems from tradition. I grew up at Giants Stadium with my father by my side for every moment of it. But 2009 marked the end of many 20-plus year traditions for me. The J-E-T-S chant, however, was one of the few that survived when Giants Stadium was torn down.
The fact is I don’t care how the chant continues, but for me it must, with the same level of intensity it always had.
My Dad never actually did the J-E-T-S chant, but there was always a moment when he'd look at me with a huge smile beaming in pride as the the stadium roared it in unison.
Along with a fancy new stadium has come fancy new fans. Amongst new faces and a new atmosphere, the one thing that used to feel familiar week in and week out was hearing that chant. The Jets don’t have much that is uniquely theirs, but no matter how annoying or silly those seven syllables are, what they represent means a lot to me and to thousands like me.
I don’t consider Fireman Ed as the face of the fan base, or some fan I should look up to. I see him as a man who deserves respect from fans for keeping a long-standing tradition alive. The fact is, without Ed, the chant hasn’t been close to what it usually was, and the organization’s latest attempt to keep it going without him is guaranteed to fail.
The Jets don't have many well known traditions like other organizations do. While I appreciate the organization attempting to keep the chant alive, their attempts thus far are comical at best.
The idea that the Jets have to instruct us how to chant is an insult to all of us who value it's history.
I'm not sure what the answer is at this point, but it should be a priority for everyone associated with the team, officials, players and fans alike, to come up with something that works.
As we get older, tradition matters more. It's what binds us, be it in our home lives or in aspects of our social lives. I can still sit and remember moments when that chant was the loudest with my Dad, and it needs to live on so I can create those same moments in future years with my own family as well.
It's up to me to find a way to make new traditions and it's up to Jets fans to keep the ones we currently have alive, even if it means looking back at a guy wearing a fireman's hat and a Bruce Harper jersey and nodding approval, no matter how corny it may have appeared to the outsider.
He got it. The Jets need to do the same.
Or else they'll lose the part of them that makes them whole.
Just like what's happening with me and dad.