The super fan formerly known as "Fireman Ed" left a void when he stopped leading the "J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!" chant two years ago, but he's more than fine with someone replacing him in leading New York Jets fans in the chorus.
In fact, he told the team that the chant needed a new leader, which has led to a contest run by the Jets to find someone to do it.
Ed Anzalone still remains a diehard fan and goes to every Jets home game but is no longer the face of the franchise's fans. After threats against his well being from fans who associated Anzalone as an extension of the Jets (he is steadfast in his resolve that the team has never given him anything, not even season tickets), Anzalone retired two years ago from the role of leading the "J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!" chant that made him so iconic around the league.
And now the Jets are looking to replace Fireman Ed, whose intense look and passionate eyes tucked under the fireman helmet on his head – he is retired FDNY – became central to the franchise's marketing efforts for years before he left the role. With his retirement, the team tried to keep the chant alive via the video message board and even piping in the chant through loudspeakers. Last year, the "Aviators" drum corps tried but failed to initiate the chant among fans. The response was lukewarm at best.
The team even enlisted dozens of fan volunteers before games who lifted signs to prime the pump for fans, but the chant lacked its intensity of yesteryear. In particular when Anzalone led the chant.
This past April, Anzalone said the Jets reached out to him about making a comeback. This led to an April meeting with a member of Jets management.
“Originally, they called me to see if I would come back to what I had done. They took me out to lunch to see if I had any interest in coming back,” Anzalone told Yahoo Sports. “I said no because it was the same problem, I couldn't take my kids to the game. I told them I wouldn't come back.
"I told them they should do something and try to get a young guy. I don't want to see it go away.”
He laments what the chant has become, lacking the luster of years past. When the Jets were winning, such as in 2009 and 2010, the chant was loud and fearsome. But in years past as the team has struggled to win, it has become lifeless in MetLife Stadium.
“The chant hasn't been the same. I talk to Jets fans every day, they see me on the street. They say it isn't the same,” Anzalone said. “I will always love the Jets but I think my time has come and gone. We need a young guy in there.”
So Anzalone said that he told management during that lunch meeting in the spring that they should find someone young and energetic to lead the chant. He was on board with a new face giving new life to the chant.
What the team did was develop a contest to pick Anzalone's successor. The franchise is asking for video submissions from season ticket holders who want to be the face of the chant. While the role is somewhat vague, presumably the winning season-ticket holder will be on the mega screens at MetLife Stadium and will actively try to get the fans behind this chant once again. The man who originally held that role is on board.
“I'll be honest with you, I like it. The fans will ultimately decide what is going to happen,” Anzalone said.
Anzalone said he won't be involved in any way with picking the winner. He left the door open for a return ("For one game if the situation was right, if the team wanted me back – if the fans wanted me back"), but that's where his involvement would start and end.
But don't take that for indifference, not from a man who spent years screaming into a television camera to get fans pumped up. He's still a diehard Jets fan and he will support whoever is picked for the contest.
“I would never stop it or try to. Never. I love this team too much,” Anzalone said. “I will do the chant along with the fans with the new leader. And I will do it just as loud as everyone else if not louder.
"I want this chant back because it's the best in all of professional sports.”
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Kristian R. Dyer writes for Metro New York and is a contributor to Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KristianRDyer
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