Happy Father’s Day, New York Jets fans. Whether you are a Dad or are celebrating with one, I hope your day is as special as you hope that it will be.
Many of us have stories to tell about how our fathers got us into both NFL football and the Jets. Here is the story about mine.
The year was 1985. I was eight years old, dating myself just a little bit. Ironically, the Jets were facing a rival that has become even a bigger rival in recent years, our friends from north of us. Of course, I’m talking about the New England Patriots. Back then the Patriots weren’t what they are today but they were competitive. They did represent the AFC in the Super Bowl that year so they were no slouch.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I was already a fan of the team. My Dad had introduced me to the game and the team watching on television. But as we all know, nothing is like being there. And this was the first time I was going to be there, and my Dad got us seats on the fifty yard line! How great is that? It’s like watching on TV, but live and in person.
So the day of the game comes and my Dad leads me through the tunnel at Giants Stadium towards our seats for the first time. You know what struck me? How green that field was. Granted, some of that was because the field was made of astroturf, but I didn’t understand that at the time. All I knew was that it was big and green. How cool! Then I saw the guys that I was learning about at home. I saw Ken O’Brien and Freeman McNeil. I saw Wesley Walker and Al Toon. The great Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko were out there.
It was my team, live and in person! We all remember the first time we saw that. Did you not get hooked at that moment? Well, I sure did.
I don’t remember all of the details of the game, but I remember that the game went into overtime. My first live game and I was getting extra football! Then, the Jets win it on a field goal by long-time placekicker Pat Leahy. My Dad and I were going home winners. It was such an exciting afternoon and it culminated in a Jets victory. That was it for me. I was in for the rest of my life.
That has brought me, as well as most of you, quite a bit of heartache over the years, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I have loved this team from then until now, not missing a game since.
I was eight years old at the time. I am now going on 42. I remember those details like they happened yesterday. That says something about how much it meant to me. Thanks Dad. Thanks for bringing out my love for this team and my passion for this game. Happy Father’s Day.
Enjoy your day, and thanks for taking the time to read this.