Count Jets head coach Rex Ryan among those who will miss “Fireman Ed.”
In an exclusive op-ed in Metro New York on Monday, longtime Jets fan Ed Anzalone wrote that he is leaving his role as the face of the team’s fan base.
“I was disappointed because I love that guy’s passion and energy that he would bring and he really he is a great fan,” Ryan said. “I really admire him. He was great, but I think [if] we do our job on the field that Jets chant will continue. But I certainly appreciate Fireman Ed.”
Anzalone has been active in his role since 1986, leading the crowd in chants, and was even recently part of an ESPN promotion for Monday Night Football. But in recent years, Anzalone has become the target for fan hatred as he is often wrongfully associated as being on the team’s payroll.
He insists that he is paying for his PSLs “on a 15-year installment” and that he has never been paid by the team.
“I will still go to games. I will always be a Jets fan,” Anzalone told Metro in an exclusive interview. “I will still join along with the ‘Jets chant.’ I will do all that. But I can’t be Fireman Ed anymore; I won’t be. And because I took nothing from this team I can walk away on my own terms.”
His presence on game day will be missed, especially in a sterile MetLife Stadium that lacks the home field advantage of many NFL stadiums.
“I like Fireman Ed. If he could play at linebacker I’d use him,” Ryan said. “I like him. I don’t know what to say; I do appreciate him.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.