Ed Anzalone Hangs up his Helmet as Jets Superfan
By: Tom DiSalvo
Famous New York Jets icon Fireman Ed announced he would be leaving his role as the team’s unofficial mascot on Sunday. Ed Anzalone has been a driving force for the Jets fan base since 1975, and his departure this Sunday was unforeseen. Hanging up the helmet midway through the 2012 season after close to thirty seven years of fanhood seems a little harsh, but Fireman Ed has a good reason. Or does he?
Anzalone claims that his decision to step down as the ring leader of a rowdy Jets fan base at MetLife Stadium is because of recent altercations with other fans, and not because of the recent failings of his beloved Jets franchise. The quarterback controversy in New York has been fueled by terrible performances by Mark Sanchez week in and week out, while golden boy Tim Tebow sits quietly on the sidelines. Most fans have called for Sanchez to be replaced weeks ago, but head coach Rex Ryan has yet to give up on his young QB.
Because Fireman Ed has sported a Sanchez jersey for some time now, he says this has sparked verbal exchanges with fans during the games and even in the parking lot. His support of Sanchez has been publicized and is no surprise, but those who cry for Tebow are not so friendly towards Fireman Ed. During the disgrace of a game on Thanksgiving night at home against the Patriots, Anzalone exited MetLife Stadium at halftime. He did the same thing at the previous home game, which turned out to be a 30-9 loss to the Dolphins. The dynamic of Fireman Ed as a Jets fan raises questions about his loyalty to the team after stepping down as their superfan, and also questions his stance on the team and what will happen in the imminent future.
If Anzalone truly supports Sanchez to the fullest, then he represents the chief problem for the Jets organization. Sanchez has not proven himself in any way this year, and his continuous mistakes have cost the Jets in some major ways. Of course, he cannot be the only player to have a finger pointed at him, but if fans, including Fireman Ed, still believe Sanchez should be the starting quarterback of this football team, then they are undoubtedly naïve. He has not been beneficial to the team, and their lack of success is glaring proof of this.
By confirming his belief that Sanchez can get the job done, Fireman Ed has fallen under the same roof as the entire Jets organization, as well as Rex Ryan, who have supported Sanchez the entire season. The fact is that Fireman Ed left the stadium during halftime of the biggest blowout in the Rex Ryan era, against their rival New England Patriots. He abandoned the team once they had failed miserably. So even though Anzalone claims he is leaving because of the altercations with other fans, one cannot help but think he is leaving out of frustration for his team. Otherwise, he would have stayed for the entire game on Thursday night.
Anzalone says he will still attend Jets games, just not as the iconic “Fireman Ed.” Jets fans now have to decide if Fireman Ed’s departure is considered abandonment or not. Is Fireman Ed giving up on the Jets or is the fan brutality the true reason why he is stepping down? If I were a Jet fan, I would lose some respect for Mr. Anzalone. Any loyal fan should stick by his team no matter how poorly they play on the field, and his decision this Sunday only drags the fan base down as a whole. With this season spiraling downward and a quarterback change in need, the exodus of Fireman Ed only adds to the pain. If changes are not made soon, the J-E-T-S will continue to F-A-I-L.