With Fireman Ed stepping away from his role with the team last year, the Jets will apparently try to keep his chant alive in future seasons by farming out his responsibilities to the entire team.
Deadspin.com reported on Wednesday evening that the Jets will be asking different sections of the stadium to actively own a letter in the “J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets” chant Ed Anzalone led for so many years. In a column that appeared exclusively in Metro last year, Anzalone stepped away from the role midway through last season “because the confrontations with other Jets fans have become more common, even though most Jets fans are fantastic.” He had become the target of fans who viewed him as an extension of the team rather than just a passionate fan.
“I left Fireman Ed, I didn’t leave as a Jets fan,” Anzalone told Metro on Thursday. “I’m still going to the games but I will never leave them.”
He was also on board with the Jets’ new plans to keep alive the chant he did so much to make an iconic part of the game-day experience.
“I just want to see the ‘J-E-T-S’ chant continue,” Anzalone told Metro. “What I’d really like to see — I’d like to see a young guy take over and do it his way and continue the Jets chant whatever way that might be. I did what I wanted to do. I tried to make a difference. It wasn’t about me, it never was. Me and my brother tried to make a difference in the stadium. I understand what the Jets are doing; they’re trying to keep it going. I’m not mad at them.
“I don’t know if it will work. Would I like to see it work? I’d like to see it work. I’d like to see it continue. Maybe it will go back in forth in the end zones like years ago. Jets fans are so passionate, so many of them are great and love the chant. I’m sure it will figure itself out. I was honored to do it as long as I did. When I die, my blood will be green. I can never knock the Jets. I’m not going to do it. I just want to see it continue. However it might be, I hope it continues.”
Anzalone earned fame for sitting on his brother’s shoulders as the in-stadium crowd camera panned to him on the big screens. Anzalone would fire the crowd up, then lead them in the chant. He could turn a docile crowd into a raucous one in a matter of moments simply by waving his FDNY fireman’s hat.
Before they made the decision to pursue this avenue for keeping the chant alive, Anzalone did say the Jets and team management reached out to him to about reviving his role in getting the crowd active.
He didn’t exactly slam the door on the possibility.
“They called me just to let me know what their intentions were. I did get asked if I would come back [in the role] and they knew I wasn’t going to come back. It’s just the way it is. But I will always love them, and down the line who knows? I wouldn’t come back on a consistent basis but if you needed me for a big game, who knows?” Anzalone said.
“It’s definitely different not doing it. When you’re able to get 80,000 people up— and I was fortunate enough to do that— and not being able to do that, it’s tough, it’s definitely tough. I’d be lying to say that I left the way I wanted to leave. I left because it was time but that wasn’t the way I wanted to go out. I wanted to go out like any athlete; you always want to go out on top. I wanted to win a championship and go down the Canyon of Heroes.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.