A backup quarterback who is not Tim Tebow and a long-suffering Jets fan who is not Fireman Ed gave a MetLife Stadium crowd something to cheer about Sunday.
Subbing for a benched Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy rallied Gang Green to a come-from-behind, 7-6 win over the Arizona Cardinals. But it was Jets season-ticket holder Brian DiVito who put a bow on the feel-good story.
DiVito, 33, of Mountainside, N.J., ended up with the victory ball when Jeff Cumberland spiked it and it bounced into the stands. Instead of hanging onto the prized pigskin, DiVito did McElroy a solid by handing the third-stringer back the trophy from his first NFL touchdown pass. “I figured it was the right thing to do,” DiVito told the Daily News following the game. “It’s probably going to end up on his mantel at home.”
DiVito, whose family has been Jets season-ticket holders for every Super Bowl-less season since 1989, was sitting in section 129 near the Jets end zone when he snagged the lucky bounce.
“Cumberland did his little touchdown dance and spiked it and it just bounced up into my hands. I was right in the front row,” DiVito said.
“McElroy came over after the touchdown and motioned like he wanted the ball and I threw it back to him,” DiVito said.
The selfless gesture got a high-five from Jets officials, who promised to send DiVito an autographed ball and other goodies.
McElroy’s play made Jets fans forget Tebowmania, but DiVito wasn’t about to anoint the second-year player as the savior of the struggling 5-7 team.
“He’s the guy today, but it’s up to Rex,” DiVito said of Jet’s coach Rex Ryan, who turned to McElroy after benching Sanchez because Tebow was nursing broken ribs.
But DiVito said the noticeable reduction in noise at the stadium was due to the absence of “Fireman Ed” Anzalone. “I hope he comes out of retirement,” DiVito said.
Anzalone, 55, known for his leadership of the “J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!” cheer, announced last week he was hanging up his fire helmet, citing too many confrontations with fans over the quarterback controversy between Sanchez and Tebow.
Jets fan Bob Uveges of Old Bridge, N.J., said Fireman Ed was definitely missed. “You need someone to get the crowd going,” Uveges said. “He’s a good ambassador.”
But when reached following the win, Fireman Ed made it clear he’s not coming out of retirement.
“Hit the road!” Anzalone yelled at a News reporter who knocked on his door in East Rutherford, N.J.
With Edgar Sandoval
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