So I’m a New York Jets fan. Have been one all my life and I’m a diehard which is really tough on me because I now live in the city of one of our divisional foes the Buffalo Bills.
I remember as a kid the Bills breaking my heart in a Wild Card playoff game and since then, I’ve had a hard time having any love for the Bills.
However…the good news is that the Jets come here once a year and it’s a lot easier to get tickets for football games here than it is to get them in the spanking new Jets Meadowlands (whatever they’re calling it this week) Stadium.
So I went to the game yesterday with my friend Steve Spear, husband of my colleague Patty Bubar Spear. And yes, I wore my Jets jersey.
Now that’s a story in itself. I’ve owned a number of Jets jerseys never spending too much on them but still…when you buy the Pennington jersey and he ends up leaving the club you can’t exactly wear THAT jersey anymore.
So I’ve gotten tired of buying a new jersey every three years or so and I opted to buy a nice Jets jersey with #1 on it and my name HAYES on the back. I’ll get killed for saying this, but Haze the Dog also has a jersey (Haze Hayes #1) and wears it almost every Sunday. (Believe in the power of the Doggie jersey–when I forget to put it on him the Jets almost always lose.)
So I wore my “HAYES” Jersey yesterday–which is white with the green lettering. See, I’m a nice guy. The Bills were promoting “White out the stadium” and requested that their fans wear white and they also handed out white pompoms. I respected their plan and wore a white jersey to blend in.
I also thought it might help in not getting me killed.
So there were a lot of Jet fans at the game actually. Lots of old school Joe Klecko and Freeman McNeil jerseys two former Jets stars. Darrelle Revis jerseys were everywhere and he is our star defensive back.
But it was clearly Bills country. And I was clearly in enemy territory. If this were the Crips and the Bloods I would have been in big trouble.
Now, I know where I am. I expect the usual “Hey Jets fan—your team SUCKS!” comments walking through the parking lot. I even expect the occasional food item or even beer to be thrown at me.
I know where I am. And it’s all in good fun. I’m a good sport and I’m in your house flaunting the fact that I don’t like you–or at least, I don’t want your team to beat my guys.
I made a wrong turn and ended up in the level above where my seats were. Ralph Wilson Stadium is a bit confusing. So as I walked through the cheap seats I got a lot of extended hands—“Hey, go Jets!—Uh, no I don’t think so” and the not so original “J-E-T-S SUCK SUCK SUCK” which is a parody of our “J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS” cheer.
We hear that one in our own stadium. No big deal.
But as I walked through I got hit in the head with an M&M by some moron and I thought I had been transported back to the middle school cafeteria. As I started to exit the cheap seats a Bills fan spit water from his straw into my eye.
OK that’s just disgusting. The coward ran quickly away too. Hopefully he doesn’t have the flu.
I was seated in “The Rock Pile” —endzone seats but good ones. Mid level–not nosebleeds. As I walked in (alone–my friend Steve, had misplaced his ticket and had to ride back home for a quick retrieval–and walking in alone well, THAT wasn’t intimidating at all!), I got to my seat and found a young man, Matt wearing a green jersey: “24 Revis” and I exhaled deeply. At least the guy next to me isn’t a Bills fan.
Credit to the Bills fans in this section–they had some good taunts.
“Only QUEERS wear jerseys with their own name on it!”
“Hey, who’s Hayes? Does he play for the Jets? I don’t THINK SO!”
About half time a fan tapped me on the shoulder and said smiling—“Hey, Jet fan, who’s Hayes?”
I replied, “That would be me. I got tired of buying a new jersey every 2 years!”
The questioning fan gave me a high five and a good luck. As we went to the locker room up 3-0.
When the Bills intercepted QB Mark Sanchez in the end zone the really friendly Bills fan in front of me slapped the peak of my hat down on my face and wacked it playfully four more times.
I shut up and took the taunts that whole first half. I’m not about to trash talk in enemy territory. Don’t get me wrong I openly rooted. Clapping for good Jets plays and yelling when Nick Folk, our kicker put us on the board.
I got hit with the occasional empty candy box and someone pulled on my jersey once–but in general, Bills fans were pretty good to me in section 243. We had fun and I took every taunt in stride.
Except for one loud obnoxious woman–who called us every kind of name you could think of. When she called the guy next to me a not-so-nice term for female genitalia I looked at my buddy Steve and said:
The Jets mauled them in the 2nd half. Leading 27-3 before the Bills got a garbage time TD to close to 27-11. That stadium got really quiet after that. If it had been the other way around, I wonder if I would have gotten out alive.
And it always takes some hot head to ruin an afternoon. An older man wearing a Freeman McNeil jersey was seated in the front row of our section. Three younger guys started to really razz him. At one point he hollered back. “Um, nobody’s bothering you. Grow up! It’s a game!”
“Know where you are!” the younger counterparts shouted back.
“I KNOW WHERE I AM! You think you can intimidate ME?! GROW…UP!” the old man growled back. He was pretty past his prime but I think he probably could have given these guys a run for their money.
I wanted to say to the younger guys “Dudes, you’re down 27-3. Shut up! Secondly, SHUT UP! And thirdly, um…shut up!” There’s no need to start something at this stage. They were clearly being Jim Rome’s famed “Likes to fight guy.”
All in all it was a great day. We made some friends Bills and Jets fans alike. We co-existed pretty peacefully. The two Bills fans in front of us were particularly nice and the women next to us, clad in their Buffalo hats, were perfect ladies. As both groups left the ladies gave us a “Nice game and take care, guys.” The guys in front said something to the effect of “Thanks for not being a bunch of jerks. You Jets fans are OK!”
Right back at ya, Bills fans. We’ll be beating you at our place in a few weeks and I hope that our fans treat you with the same respect that you showed to me.
You’ll have to know where you are and expect the usual taunts. I hope nobody spits at you though—classless. What is this Philadelphia?
In parting, being a Jets fan in Bills country is not always easy–but yesterday, I thought it could’ve been a lot worse. You Bills fans, for the most part, are OK.
Thanks to Steve Spear for a great day and for driving and to Stubhub.com for an affordable ticket.