If Darrelle Revis can come back then why not "Fireman Ed?"
Less than a day after the New York Jets successfully recruited the biggest free agent signing in franchise history, a group of the team's most vocal fans are eyeing the return of another marquee name to their fold. Like Revis, this figure has been a face of the franchise and looms larger than life. That face belongs to Ed Anzalone, also known affectionately as "Fireman Ed."
And from the creators of FireJohnIdzik.com comes BringBackEd.com, a website and petition designed to draw eyeballs to their cause of bringing Anzalone out of retirement and lead the stadium-wide chant that he helped make famous.
“The gameday atmosphere has deteriorated over the past couple of seasons. Some of that will fix itself with an improved roster and more wins. However, we feel that the forced replacements have been killing the greatest organized cheer in professional sports.,” said Jason Koeppel, one of the co-founders behind FireJohnIdzik.com who is behind this new website.
“Jets fans do not want marching bands. We don't want the team to organize fan contests to put a random person in charge of starting it every week. We heard that Ed turned down the Jets when they approached him about a possible return last year. We are hoping that since it's the fans asking him to come back this time - not the team - he will reconsider.”
Three years ago in the midst of a sour 6-10 season, Anzalone retired from his role as 'Fireman Ed' amidst threats and physical altercations from angry fans who took out their frustrations on the team's most visible of fans. But now two general managers and a new head coach removed from those dark days of the 2012 season, it is hoped that Anzalone will return as the franchise begins to rebuild.
Anzalone, a retired FDNY firefighter, still attends games but his job of leading the chant has fallen to random fans, selected by the team, who are featured on the jumbo screens on a rotating basis. The effort is there but without Anzalone and his trademark style, the chant has fallen on tough times.
The team also has tried to use 'The Aviators' drum corps to initiate the chant with some limited success but in no way has that replaced Anzalone.
“FireJohnIdzik.com was a very polarizing campaign. Some Jets fans loved what we were doing and others thought it was over the line. Now that the campaign is over and the team is headed in the right direction - we wanted to do something with a more positive message,” Koeppel said.
“One of the guys who was outspoken against our Idzik campaign on Twitter actually came up with the idea to try and get Ed back. We loved the idea, so we asked our twitter followers what they thought. The response was immediate and overwhelming. We are just a few guys with an opinion and we have no problem voicing those opinions. These campaigns only gain traction if others are passionate about the message.”
The BringBackEd.com website features a petition where fans can sign to show their support for the return of 'Fireman Ed.'
No word on any planes flying over practice with a 'Bring Back Ed' banner, however. One can only hope.
→ According to Newsday's Kimberly Martin, the Jets have re-signed guard Willie Colon to a one-year deal, a surprising move considering the recent free agent signing of James Carpenter as well as young guard talent that already exists on the two-deep.