New York

This Could Be the Jets’ Year, Fireman Ed Says

Good morning. It’s Monday. We’ll find out why someone whom Jets fans know as Fireman Ed will be on duty, so to speak, at MetLife Stadium tonight. We’ll also catch up with the swimmer who has almost finished his monthlong trip down the Hudson River.

Credit…Brian Westerholt/Associated Press

The Jets will open their season tonight against the Buffalo Bills. Will Aaron Rodgers live up to the hype? This much is certain: A retired firefighter and steamfitter known around MetLife Stadium as Fireman Ed will do what he does, shouting, strutting and exhorting the fans. Our writer Bernard Mokam explains who Fireman Ed is and how he became such a presence at Jets games.

Edwin Anzalone’s season tickets say he belongs in Section 116 at MetLife Stadium. He does not stay there long. In his trademark firefighter’s helmet, sometimes with eye paint drawn across his face, Anzalone — Fireman Ed to fans — seems to be everywhere, leading the chant that has woven itself into the identity of the team: “J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets!”

He roars. He slaps the helmet. He grimaces. All to get the fans to yell louder.

“Nobody rocks the chant like he does,” said Tyson Rauch, 50, a season-ticket holder and one of the hosts of the podcast “Let’s Talk Jets Radio,” who marvels at Anzalone’s passion. “You feel it — the veins are popping out of his forehead.”

Others admire his mobility. “One minute, he’d be on the lower level,” remembered Kevin Sirkin, 35, a host of two Jets podcasts, including one with Anzalone.. “The next minute, he’d pop up in the upper deck.”

Anzalone endeared himself to his fellow fans during the tough times — the bruising losses and the long stretches of mediocrity. “The atmosphere, and how he made the games fun to go to, that’s what really got me hooked as a kid,” said Sirkin, whose seats in the old Giants Stadium were two sections over from Anzalone’s.

Optimism surrounds the Jets right now, and tonight Anzalone plans to have “the crowd rolling early.”

“We’ve been in a desert for a very long time,” he said. But Rodgers’s arrival has buoyed his faith: “We’re going to win a world championship with Aaron Rodgers.”

Anzalone, 63, grew up in College Point, Queens, and attended his first Jets game as a teenager in 1974. He recalls running down College Point Boulevard and over the Flushing Bay Promenade toward Shea Stadium, where the Jets then played (as did the Mets). His destination was somewhere under the Grand Central Parkway, where his brother Frankie was tailgating.

“As a kid, you’re all excited you’re with your older brother,” he said, “and that’s how I really started to like the Jets.” Frankie Anzalone also figured in how Edwin became Fireman Ed in 1986.

“It was dead” around their seats in Giants Stadium, Anzalone recalled, “so I started running up and down the aisle, trying to get the fans going.” He climbed on the railing so the fans could see him but nearly fell over.

Frankie grabbed him and issued a command: “Get on my shoulders.”

That got them noticed, and the Fireman Ed character began to take shape. A couple of years later he borrowed a helmet at a game in Buffalo and later brought his own (as a firefighter, he was assigned to Engine 69 and Ladder 28 in Harlem). In the early ’90s the ESPN host Chris Berman coined the nickname.

He took a couple of years off from being Fireman Ed, starting in 2012, but still attended games. The team held contests to find chant leaders to fill the void. “But it just wasn’t the same,” Rauch recalled. “The stadium lacked the energy.” Anzalone returned in 2015.

He cannot pin down the exact number of games he has attended since his first in ’74, but he has not missed many, he said. He went to championship games in Miami in 1982 and in Denver in 1998 but stayed home for the one in 2009 against the Indianapolis Colts. He wanted to try something different. “My superstition,” he said, “maybe the third one was the charm. That didn’t work.” The Jets lost, 30-17.

The disappointments have not stopped him. “If you’re a fan, you’re a fan,” Anzalone said, “when they are winning and when they are losing.”

He inherited this attitude from Frankie, who died last September from esophageal cancer.

Frankie “always felt every year was our year,” Anzalone said. “That’s why we did what we did. We tried to make an impact in the games and get the crowd going so that we’d have home field advantage.”


Remembering 9/11

It has now been 22 years since terrorists seized four jetliners and pointed them at emblems of power and prestige — the Sept. 11 attacks. The commemoration at the 9/11 Memorial Plaza in Lower Manhattan, by now a yearly ritual of remembrance, will begin with a citywide moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time when the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Families of the nearly 3,000 people who died on that bright September morning will once again read the names of those killed, and other moments of silence will follow.

Flags on government buildings in New York State will fly at half-staff today, andtonight a tribute in light — 88 xenon bulbs arranged in two squares — will again rise to the sky, as the twin towers once did.

There are now 9/11 memorials in at least 19 countries. Kinsale, a fishing village in Ireland, is home to one honoring the New York City firefighters killed that day.

The commemorations come three days after the city announced that remains of two more 9/11 victims had been identified with DNA testing — a man and a woman whose names were withheld at their families’ request, City Hall said. The city said they brought to 1,649 the number identified through DNA by the city’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner.


Weather

Expect a chance of thunderstorms into the evening, with a high in the low 80s. At night, it will be mostly cloudy and temps will drop to 70.

ALTERNATE-SIDE PARKING

In effect until Saturday (Rosh Hashana).


The latest New York news

Credit…Steve Berman/The New York Times

Local news

  • Settlement: How the police handle protest demonstrations may change under an agreement that seeks to end a pattern of overwhelming police responses that can lead to violent clashes with protesters, injuries, large-scale arrests and, often, lawsuits.

  • Migrants: Many Democrats and business leaders favor giving migrants work permits, but pockets of tension and reluctance have created a complex political calculus.

  • New champion: Coco Gauff, 19, has been in the spotlight since she was a 15-year-old playing Wimbledon, but after she won the U.S. Open singles title, those lights will burn hotter.


Hudson swimmer nears the end of his monthlong trek

Credit…Miguel Booth/Lewis Pugh Foundation

Lewis Pugh has been swimming with the fishes, but not like that.

He has also gone stroke for stroke with Barbara Woodward, Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, and with the president of Marist College, Kevin Weinman, and his wife, Beth Weinman.

Pugh is the British maritime lawyer-turned-endurance swimmer and environmental advocate on a monthlong swim down the Hudson River, from the Adirondacks to New York City. He expects to end his trip on Tuesday at Battery Park in Lower Manhattan.

Today’s itinerary calls for him to start at Hastings-on-Hudson, in Westchester County, and reach the George Washington Bridge. Joining him will be Yvette Tetteh, who in May swam in an even longer river, the Volta, in Ghana, to raise awareness about clothing waste that is dumped in waterways in Africa.

Tetteh told me last week that there were parallels between the Hudson’s polluted past and the Volta’s polluted present. She also wondered whether she could keep up with Pugh, who told me on Saturday that trip has “definitely been grueling, no question about that.”

He said that to avoid the heat and make the most of the tides, he has been racking up the miles in the wee small hours of the morning — which was when he realized he was surrounded by fish, specifically Atlantic sturgeon also heading downstream.

Kevin Weinman, the Marist president, said that swimming in the Hudson is usually “something we tell our students ‘don’t do’” for safety reasons, and only experienced swimmers took part, with the crew team trailing in their boats.

Marist describes Weinman as an endurance athlete who has done half-Ironman triathlons, “but it’s been 10 years,” he told me. “It was literally muscle memory that helped me get through the day, not muscle.”


METROPOLITAN diary

Tools of the trade

Dear Diary:

I was on a packed downtown No. 4 train and nearly nose-to-nose with a window washer laden with all the tools of his trade: straps to secure him to window frames, a bucket, a sponge and a squeegee.

Our eyes met for a moment, and he cocked his head:

“As long as I’m here,” he said, “want me to clean your glasses?”

— William Schaller

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.


Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — J.B.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

Bernard Mokam and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].

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