EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - B-A-C-K. Back! Back! Back!
Metro has learned that "Fireman Ed," the most visible of all New York Jets fans, is returning to his role of leading the team's chant on Sunday for the team's season opener against the Cleveland Browns. The return of Ed Anzalone, better known to many as "Fireman Ed" for his raucous leading of the "J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!" cheer has been out from the role since the 2012 season. That year, a 6-10 debacle, turned especially ugly for Jets fans who threatened Anzalone at the stadium and made him a point for criticism and physical altercations. Given his visibility, Anzalone was an easy target and he chose to walk away from the role.
But this Sunday, Anzalone is returning to lead the first chant and officially hand off the baton of leading the chant to other fans within the stadium.
"The idea on Sunday is to return the Jets chant to its proper place," Anzalone told Metro.
"I feel the young guys will do that. The Jets reached out to me and asked me to help out with this. Of course I want to, I want to help this team. I love this team and I love this chant, it's the best chant in all of professional sports. I've been to every game since that Patriots game when I walked away. I will never give up on this team."
The chant has suffered a bit in recent times since Anzalone stepped away from his role leading the chant on the big screen. The Jets have done their part to try and keep it alive, utilizing the "Aviators" drum corps to try and lead the chant last year as well as putting a different fan each game on the big screen to lead the chant. But it was difficult to find someone with the charisma of Anzalone to whip the stadium in a frenzy.
This past spring, the BringBackEd.com movement, created by Jason Koeppel who was also responsible for the FireJohnIdzik.com campaign, pushed for Anzalone's return. The online petition garnered over 3,600 signatures and even players on the Jets roster lobbied for Anzalone to assume his rightful place leading a chant he clearly loved. Clearly he was missed for his role in creating a positive gameday experience and a homefield advantage.
The Jets reached out to Anzalone this offseason after hearing he was open to leading the chant again.
Anzalone will lead only the first chant in the stadium before the torch gets passed on. As for if he'll ever return to his prominent role for a big game, say the playoffs, Anzalone said he wouldn't rule it out.
But the focus right now is on Sunday, as he makes his long-awaited return to lead that opening kickoff chant. He admits that he is uncertain of the emotions.
"I don't know how I'll be," Anzalone said. "It'll be bittersweet; I didn't want to leave in the first place. Been doing it for 28 years, met a lot of great people and I've been the guardian of it in many ways.
"I'll get emotional, no doubt about it. But in a good way. I'm excited about it. I'll get through it."
A Jets spokesman provided this statement to Metro:
"The J-E-T-S chant has belonged to all of our loyal fans since it first started at Shea Stadium. With this in mind, we will be looking for the most passionate, enthusiastic and creative Jets fans to lead the crowd on the in-stadium video boards during all of our home games. Fireman Ed’s participation today is part of this effort to energize the J-E-T-S chant. We know that Jets fans are the most energetic in all of football and we're excited for all of them to contribute to a great atmosphere supporting our 2015 team."