It is a funny thing being a fan, it’s probably the only thing that makes you do the consistent inherently irrational thing. It is what makes you yell at your TV even though you know no one on the other side of the glass is listening (or even cares), it is what makes sitting outside for four hours in the driving snow seem normal.
For most of us, being a Jets fan wasn’t a choice, we were born into this mess; misery and angst were our birth rite we unwittingly accepted with open arms, only to later curse the fates for thrusting us into such a situation. The generational aspect is what makes being a Jets fan so unique, we didn’t choose this life, it was chosen for us; but that is also the common thread, that bond which unites us. Whether it was a father, mother, brother, sister, etc, we all have that person who got their hooks in us when we were young, who told us tales of Joe Willie, white shoes, and a Guarantee and who also carry with them the memories of Heidi, AJ Duhe, and the “fake spike.”
For me, that person was my father, a Long Island-native, who like many from that generation, was lured to the Green and White by the proclamations of Namath and who, when he had the opportunity, consummated the relationship by purchasing season tickets in the early 1980’s when the name “Jets” still made sense. Even when the team left Flushing to become second-class citizens, mere tenants of their cross-town rivals who had made the stadium their home, he followed suit, making the trek across the Hudson at the behest of his persuasive (some would say “pushy”) wife. This is a man that knows heartbreak all too well, who could have rightfully jumped ship and walked away any number of times through the debacles of the late “80’s” and early “90’s,” but still he hung on just long enough to indoctrinate his first-born son.
My earliest Jet recollections entail my father handing me a Glen Foley, throwing me in the back of the Jeep and my mother’s horrified reaction upon telling her I ate in the trunk (my first foray into tailgating). Considering I was all of five years old at the time, I can’t tell you what happened in the game but you know what, I didn’t care. That’s all it took: a shirt with a number on it, a couple of hot dogs, and most importantly the opportunity to spend some time with my dad doing something he genuinely loved to do. Since then we’ve experienced the full range of highs, lows, and everything in between that comes with watching this team but despite the agita, I wouldn’t trade a single moment.
Fast forward 18 some-odd years later and not much has changed, sure I’m a little older, a little mouthier, a little more astute about the game, but Fall Sundays are still the same for me as they were back then with my dad sitting to my left on the aisle watching the team we’ve grown to love (and hate) together.
What makes being a Jets fan so special and so unique is that most of us have stories like this that serve as the common thread that unites us and keeps us coming back for more. Put quite simply: it’s why we do this. Often times, I think it’s easy to lose sight of what (or more specifically who) brought you into this brotherhood and how you came to be the person screaming at his television, the sports radio ranter, or even worse, the internet commenter. But at our core, we’re all that five-year old kid with mustard stains on his Glen Foley jersey wanting to tag along with his dad, we’re all Jets fans.
I know there’s tons of stories like mine out there and I would love to hear them so feel free to drop them in the comments section or get a hold of me on Twitter @danmarcus92 and we’ll try to start putting some of the best ones together for posting in the weeks to come.