My husband and I watched a crazy come-from-way behind win for the NY Jets on opening day at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on September 11, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks.
I reluctantly accompanied my husband to this game, concerned about the news of chatter of possible truck bombs in NY City. Although my husband kept reminding me that the Jets play in New Jersey, not NY City, the Jets stadium is a lot closer to NY City than to our home in Albany. After-all, the Twin Towers were once visible from the old Jets (Giants) stadium. Plus, I knew commemorative events were planned for half-time, which would focus on the pain and loss and horrific memories of that day.
Ten years earlier, I arrived at work to find coworkers absent, watching a TV in an office off the lobby of the nursing home where I worked in the pharmacy down the hall. Someone said a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. Thinking this was some crazy accident, I sat down to join the group. We watched on live TV in horrified silence as the second plane flew directly into the second tower.
Stunned, we eventually realized we needed to return to work. The patients needed their medications. We kept the radio on. I hadn’t yet told anyone about the disturbing message left on my answering machine, from the night before. I routinely checked phone messages upon returning home from work, and heard a stranger’s voice telling me that my estranged father had died.
I seemed to be the only one in the pharmacy openly crying after witnessing the horror. Embarrassed, I told them my father had died and they sent me home. Days after the attacks, we learned that our close friend Mike’s younger brother had perished in the tower collapse.
Now, at the game surrounded by Jets and Cowboy fans, I did not want to revisit those horrific events. However, I know it will always be impossible to avoid the memories. Every where I looked there were unavoidable signs. Heightened police presence and huge displays with 9-11 tribute ribbons were lit up visible from outside of the stadium.
To make matters worse, protesters outside the stadium waved hateful signs; “God Hates You” and something about “Fags. I was furious. These hateful misguided people were trying to blame this terrorist attack on gay people.
Then, upon entering the parking lots, all cars were stopped and inspected by bomb sniffing dogs. After being patted down and searched, a uniformed attendant handed out small American Flags as we headed to our seats.
FDNY, NYPD, Port Authority, members of the military, along with New Jersey police officers and players from both the Jets and Cowboys stretched a giant American flag across the field.
They continued holding the flag during the national anthem before the game, and as FDNY, NYPD and PAPD bagpipers performed “Amazing Grace” from the field.
Children of first responders participated in the half-time tribute, which began with Robert De Niro saying, “When we stand together as one, we cannot be defeated.” As the stadium darkened family members assembled into a formation resembling the shape of the 2 towers, which were lit up similar to the memorial site.
Some of these children, wearing signs indicating they had lost a parent, were seated 2 seats away from us. As I struggled to stand up, letting them pass me on their way to the half-time tribute, I wondered if I should say something expressing my sorrow for their loss, or should I keep quiet not intruding on their grief. It took so much effort to get up out of my seat, moving my braced leg and cane out of their way, that the children and a women whose T-shirt read “I lost my husband in 9-11”, had passed me by before I could decide what to say, if anything.
In the midst of all this, 2 fans fighting went head over heels crashing into people as they tumbled down 6 rows, before finally landing on the floor, still punching each other. As the nearby crowd stands to stare, I hear the crackle of a stun gun; but confused, because the security guard has not yet reached the pummeling idiots. Apparently a fan had somehow smuggled a taser into the stadium.
Now, I’m really on edge and not feeling safe at all. Yet, I am reminded we’re not supposed to live in fear, as this would let the terrorists (and idiot fans) win. Jets tickets are really expensive and we drove almost 3 hours to get here. I should just relax and enjoy the game, which would be easier if they were winning. And if I wasn’t concerned that the drunk kid behind me would puke all over my back or fall onto me.
After being down 24 to 10, the Jets tied with 5 minutes left. Then Nick Folt kicked a 50-yard field goal with 27 seconds left, giving the Jets a 27 to 24 comeback victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Now, if we could just make our way out of the stadium, (cane in one hand-flag in the other, trying not to stumble and fall down the multi levels of stairs from the upper decks of the end zone) and make it safely home.
Just found out there’s a video of this fight online with one of the nitwits getting tasered.
WARNING: VERY EXPLICIT LANGUAGE! in the video
Here’s the video link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9HOI9fcNvTk
I was sitting right next to the guy who asks, “How did he get in with that thing?” That’s what I’d like to know. I was already on edge with the truck bomb chatter in the news, and bomb sniffing dogs before entering the stadium parking lot. Then to see this fight right next to me, to hear the taser going off, was just shocking. Also, it seemed to take quite awhile before security arrived and arrested the guy.
As I got patted down, they made me take my sweatshirt off, which was tied around my waist, but a taser gets through! Now, I’m really looking forward to going to next Sunday’s game. Anyone want a ticket?
- Jets’ Rex Ryan: It’s On Me To Win 9/11 Anniversary Game For NY (newyork.cbslocal.com)