SPORTS WATCH | The End of an Era: Fireman Ed Hangs Up His Hat
by Gus Jarvis
Nov 29, 2012 | 723 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

As if things in New York Jets land aren’t screwed up enough.

A never-ending quarterback controversy between Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow. Fat Rex Ryan has a severe foot fetish and should be hospitalized before he chomps some trainer’s foot off. Mark Sanchez’s downward spiral as a quarterback is never ending. An embarrassing Thanksgiving night 49-19 loss. A record of 4-7. A butt fumble. Sanchez’s moles, I mean beauty marks, are growing at a rapid pace.

Yes, things aren’t pretty in the Meadowlands right now for the New York Jets. The team is on the verge of a catastrophic collapse. And that collapse may be underway now, as the Jets have now lost one of its most prolific team supporters since 1975. Yes, Fireman Ed is hanging up his lame New York Jets fireman’s hat and will no longer be present at Jets games to help lead the team to victory.

I have not received any sort of press release from the Jets organization from my request to learn  who will be leading the “J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets” cheer this weekend when the Arizona Cardinals roll into town, but I am sure the organization is on it. I mean, the cheer is really the only thing the Jets organization has going right now. Am I right?

Anyway, it wasn’t long after the Jets were completely routed by the Patriots on Thanksgiving evening when Fireman Ed decided to announce his retirement as a fan. In a guest commentary published in Monday’s edition of the New York newspaper, Metro, Fireman Ed, A.K.A., Ed Anzalone, said his love for the Jets is undying but he can no longer attend games as Fireman Ed. He will attend games as usual, just not as Fireman Ed.

The reason for Fireman Ed’s departure, he wrote, wasn’t because of the extremely poor and embarrassing play of the Jets but, rather, the attitude of his fellow Jets fans who have become increasingly hostile and confrontational.

“On Thanksgiving night, I left the Jets game before halftime,” Anzalone wrote in Metro. “This was the second time in a row I left before there were four zeroes on the clock. We have had much worse teams than this and I never left before. I pride myself in that, because I am not a quitter.

“I decided to leave Thursday because the confrontations with other Jets fans have become more common, even though most Jets fans are fantastic.”

Confrontational? Don’t fans of opposing teams confront each other at games, rather than fans of the same team? Are Jets fans now turning against themselves? If what Anzalone says is true, it would seem so.

You see, Fireman Ed usually wears a No. 42 Jets jersey as an homage to the Jets’ best kick return man, Bruce Harper. This year, though, Fireman Ed decided to show some solidarity with coach Ryan, and has put on the No. 6 Mark Sanchez jersey. Wearing the No. 6 shows that you are on board with Sanchez as your quarterback.

And like everything else on God’s green earth, if there is a confrontation or controversy among like-minded football fans, it stems from Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow is the Genesis of all football controversies. What it sounds like is, Jets fans have confronted Fireman Ed about his support for Sanchez and, frankly, I don’t blame them.

Jets fans, as a whole, have made their voice heard loud and clear that they don’t like the fact that Sanchez is still behind center. Now sitting with a 4-7 record, they ask, “Why not try Tim Tebow?” Fat Rex and Co. won’t hear anything of it and sticks to his young, impotent gun, Mark Sanchez. Jets fans are understandably frustrated and will turn to anyone who may have some pull in the Jets organization in an effort to get Tebow behind center.

Unfortunately for Fireman Ed, fans think for some reason he may have some sort of pull to get Sanchez benched. (If I were a Jets fan at this point, I’d confront Fireman Ed, too.)

“The fact that I chose to wear a Mark Sanchez jersey this year and that fans think I am on the payroll — which is an outright lie — have made these confrontations more frequent,” Anzalone wrote. “Whether it’s in the stands, the bathroom or the parking lot, these confrontations are happening on a consistent basis.”

He goes on to write that although he can hold his own during these confrontations, he doesn’t want to lose his temper and make a mistake by punching some dude with a Tebow jersey in the face. He has a responsibility to families and kids who enjoy the game. With that reasoning, Fireman Ed will no longer be standing and screaming in the stands. It will just be Ed Anzalone, a Joe Six-Pack of sorts, enjoying another loss at Metlife Stadium. (I wonder if Ed Anzalone is a Tebow or a Sanchez fan?)

Part of me really wants to believe him. He may very well be tired of fans screaming at him over Sanchez’s performance. Another part of me thinks Fireman Ed is smarter than that. Fireman Ed is really using a Jedi mind-trick on fat Rex – a sort of martyrdom – to, in fact, get him to start Tim Tebow. Maybe Fireman Ed really does have the pull to get Tebow to start.

Maybe Fat Rex is at home thinking to himself that if Fireman Ed is dropping out as a fan, we really should start Tebow, instead of Sanchez. 

Perhaps this is just a media stunt by Fireman Ed to shift the focus off the Sanchez-Tebow controversy for a week, and onto himself, so the coaches in the Jets’ office can grab a breath of fresh air. You know ESPN is going to have about four to five hours of Fireman Ed coverage on Sunday morning ,full of heartwarming piano music, tearful interviews and historic footage of Ed in action. In this column, I’ve already dropped 986 words on him.

Regardless of what Fireman Ed’s real motives are for walking away from the game, it’s something that you wouldn’t see here in Broncoland from the likes of Rocky the Leprechaun or the late great Barrel Man, God rest his soul.

I know if the Barrel Man were here with us right now, he’d be disappointed in Fireman Ed. The Barrel Man would never have have turned his back on his team, no matter how hairy it got. He would have put in another chew, grabbed his cheer cone and started another round of a “D-Fence” wave at Mile High Stadium. Simple as that.

If there is any wisdom to be taken away from the whole Fireman Ed retirement story, it is this: John Elway is The Man. He had the foresight to send Tebow packing to another city, no matter how much he was loved here in Denver. He knew the baggage that Tebow brings to a team. Shame on you, Denver fans, for second guessing Elway’s decision. Just look at the New York Jets and realize: this could have been you.

 

gjarvis@watchnewspapers.com

Twitter: @gusgusj   

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