FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- From Quincy Enunwa's IPhone screen to hopefully once again on the big screen at MetLife Stadium.
There's a hope among Jets fans that famed fan “Fireman Ed” will make a return this year as the leader of the “J-E-T-S!” chant as the once face of the franchise has been missing from his once prominent role on gameday. For years Ed Anzalone, a retired New York City firefighter, was a renowned personality at the Meadowlands as he was the ringleader of the Jets fanbase, his shaved head and steely eyes glaring into a camera as he would whip the stadium into a frenzy.
But Anzalone retired three years ago due to threats received at the stadium from people who associated him as an extension of the franchise and not just a fellow fan. Earlier this year, however, he hinted that a comeback might be in the making and two weeks ago at a charity event for Muhammad Wilkerson's organization, Anzalone led several hundred fans in attendance in the chant.
The moment was captured by second year Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, who filmed Anzalone's theatrics on his cell phone then posted the video to his Instagram account. Enunwa recognized Anzalone's face from having seen it on television before but wasn't sure if it was, in fact, the tried and true “Fireman Ed.”
His hunch was later confirmed by Jets fans.
“I think any football fan for a longtime knows who he is,” Enunwa told Metro last week. “But when you see him in person, you're not sure. Just like people, when they see us out in person, they don't always recognize us.”
The Jets’ young wide receiver was impressed with how Anzalone was able to whip the offseason fanbase back into it's glory, this after seeing it firsthand at the bowling alley.
Anzalone calls it the greatest chant in professional sports and when he leads it, it really is goosebump stuff.
Since he was forced to leave his role as 'Fireman Ed' due to the threats, he has continued to go to games and hopes that a younger fan will take up the mantle and lead the chant. But the Jets have struggled to find an adequate replacement, someone with the same moxie as Anzalone. It is clear that, at least right now, if the Jets want a good atmosphere at MetLife Stadium they'll need to recruit Anzalone back.
“It kind of gets you ready for the season, it's early but it gets you in the mood,” Enunwa said. “I think it'll definitely put the fans into the game more [if he comes back]. Us doing well wouldn't hurt. Having 'Fireman Ed' out there though would definitely help.”
There is even a website, BringBackEd.com with an online petition imploring Anzalone to make a comeback. With optimism high around the Jets following their strong offseason as well as a good haul from the NFL Draft, Anzalone's return would only add optimism to a fanbase that is all too familiar with suffering.
And while Enunwa is just beginning his education on “Fireman Ed,” he said he wouldn't mind running out of the tunnel come Week 1 with Anzalone leading the chant.
“Anybody who can incite the crowd at a bowling alley like that, well, imagine what he can do with a stadium full of people?” Enunwa said. “That'd be awesome to have that.”