Louie Gonzalez knows a thing or two about comebacks following a battle with a brain disease that was supposed to cost him his life. And it could well be Gonzalez who inspired 'Fireman Ed' to make a comeback of his own.
Gonzalez, who suffers from a rare brain disorder called called hydrocephalus where fluid remains in the brain, has endured a series of miscues and ailments since his diagnosis in 2002. He's been in several comas, was once declared legally dead, had his family told he would be a vegetable for life and finally that he would require a feeding tube then might never walk again. Now he is able to play basketball and football and no longer is wheelchair-bound.
On Sunday afternoon Gonzalez received a call from Ed Anzalone, better known as super fan 'Fireman Ed.' The J-E-T-S chant leader called Gonzalez, a professed huge Jets fan living in Florida, when he learned about his brave fight against hydrocephalus. It was just a few minute call but one that made Gonzalez smile and beam with joy.
“I was so exited because I been watching him on TV for the past 20 years and to actually talk to him and hear his voice was more then words could express,” Gonzalez told Metro.
“He was saying how my story touched him and how me playing with my kids was very beautiful.”
Gonzalez even put his cellphone on speaker and led his family in the J-E-T-S chant, the same chorus which Anzalone led at MetLife Stadium until 2012 when he retired from the role. He left, Anzalone has repeatedly said, after receiving threats from fellow fans at games in the midst of a disappointing 6-10 season. Fans turned their anger on Anzalone, the most visible of fans, and he retired from the role for his own safety and well being. Despite this, he continues to go to games and root for the team.
Anzalone recently told Metro that he would be open to a short-term comeback, something he also intimated to Gonzalez after hearing the family do their rendition of the J-E-T-S chant.
“You guys are inspiring me,” Anzalone said in the video.
“You're going to make me want to back there and rock that house.”
Maybe just a hint that Anzalone is indeed mulling a comeback. A petition at BringBackEd.com has topped 3,000 signatures, all wanting Anzalone to reprise his role in leading the chant.
Could Anzalone's call to Gonzalez perhaps be tipping his hand that 'Fireman Ed' is poised to come back in some capacity in 2014?
As for Gonzalez the story he told Metro New York on Sunday about his battle with hydrocephalus is inspiring others.
Jets fans Kristine Choma and Michelle Lattas Vittone as well as Jason Koepell have teamed together to start TeamLouie2nyc.com to raise funds to send Gonzalez to the home opener this year at MetLife Stadium. Gonzalez has never been to the stadium and desperately wants to see his team play.
To date, over $2,000 has been raised for Gonazlez to be able to walk into MetLife Stadium this fall. And perhaps, 'Fireman Ed' will be leading the J-E-T-S chant at that game.