NY Jets: Fans coming together to remember Super Bowl III

Feb 6, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; NFL former player Joe Namath on the red carpet prior to the NFL Honors award ceremony at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 6, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; NFL former player Joe Namath on the red carpet prior to the NFL Honors award ceremony at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

During Super Bowl 50, fans of the NY Jets came together to share their stories of a time where Gang Green were champions and everything was right in the world.

Social media has played such a huge role in how news reports, stories, blogs and indeed, getting the voice of fans out there.  They love to share and I love to hear about them, and would like to share a few with you.  There are all sorts of stories on the Jets as  I love hearing them from my readers, whether it’s the newborn babies in Jet gear or old man rocking Titan gear who knows nothing about social media. Sometimes I get to hear about both at the same time.

Carl Reichenbecher of New Jersey can relate to both.  With grandbabies entering the world to become the next generaton of Jet fans, this Grandpa reminisced about attending a Titans game in the Polo Grounds to games in 1964 and then after the Jets drafted Joe Namath and John Huarte from Notre Dame.

Although laughing now (I can imagine crying or screaming back than) he shared the infamous “Heidi” game out in Oakland.  Jets were ahead with the couple minutes to go when the game was cut off to go to the feature movie “Heidi.”  The fans complained so much they blew out the NBC switchboard in New York!

With the game seemingly all but won by our Jets, somehow, after the city suddenly left in the dark, Oakland staged an improbable comeback and won, which most fans didn’t find out about until picking up the morning paper the next day. That’s why today they don’t cut away from a game until it’s done or at least keep a split screen kind of thing going.

You can see the excitement he shared of that cold day in December of 1968 in big Shea Stadium. Being AFL champs, beating those hated Raiders in the Championship Game and then it was onto Super Bowl III. Watching the Super Bowl, Carl had the confidence of youth that they would win. And, he was also was fortunate to go to a neighbor’s house to watch game in color!

“The game felt good until Johnny U (Unitas) trotted onto the field near the end, we had seen him lead so many comebacks before,” Reichenbecher says.  “Then all fans were a nervous wreck! But the boys were awesome, especially #41 Snell and #83 Sauer Jr!  Either one should have been MVP!  But we won, and Namath did have a little something to do with that!”

More from The Jet Press

Carl could tell hundreds of stories,  I will never get tired of hearing from him or his wife Nancy.

I was so fortunate to meet them many years ago at MetLife Stadium.  Parked close to Verizon, you simply can’t miss him with wearing #73, under the Jet logo flag flying high, attached to his green Joe Klecko autographed Jeep.  Yes, signed!  I encourage you to stop by, say hello to him and Nancy and take a picture!

Our very own staff writer Paul Newbold of Pennsylvania was introduced by his father to the Titans. They were Giant fans, but it was hard back then to find a ticket to the old Yankee Stadium.  When the Titans began playing at the Polo Grounds, his dad got tickets and quickly got hooked! The Polo Grounds were dilapidated despite the efforts to spruce it up for the new franchise, but it was like home to them. Paul and his dad attended every game we could and fell in love with AFL football despite all the negativity coming from the NFL.

One of his first game memories was at the Polo Grounds in 1962. “The Jets played the Denver Broncos and lost, “ says with a laugh.  “It wasn’t very exciting, as the Jets got blown out.  It didn’t matter to them though, it was live football and that beat the hell out of watching a game on a black and white TV and constantly having to adjust the antenna!”

1968 is the golden era of Jet football. This is the era that many of Paul’s all time Jets come from. “Joe Namath, Matt Snell, Emerson Boozer, Don Maynard etc,” he says.  Remembering they went 11-3 brings a smile to his face in an instant. “One game that stands out from that season was a really close loss to the Bills, the Jets lost by a field goal, but Namath and gang fought a tough one. Another game was blowing out the Dolphins in the final game of the season. The Jets were on a roll by season’s end, winning four or five straight and fans were ecstatic over the finish!  I knew deep down thought they could do it.”

But many Jet fans weren’t certain. “We loved our players and were beyond excited that they would be playing in a Super Bowl. Joe wasn’t being cocky, but that he was predicting the unlikely. Remember this was a NFL team, nobody thought it possible that one of the “lowly AFL” teams could beat an NFL team and take the trophy home. The AFL was thought of as a joke, teams in that league were not supposed to beat NFL teams. Fans leading up to the meeting with the Colts and Johnny Unitas were doubtful to say the least! The fan in us made you believe, but the football logic of the day told us it wasn’t possible. We Believed Regardless.”

“Namath being named Super Bowl MVP as I’ve heard the arguments over the years that it should have gone to Matt Snell for his contributions, and there was a case to be made for that undoubtedly,” he continues. “The way I saw it, and I think the media did as well, was this was Namath’s team. Forget the ownership of the team, this game was all about Namath and HIS Jets. They talk about the superstars today in the media and hype players up, but Namath was on an entirely different planet. He was worshiped in New York and was known across the country. It may not have been the proper “football decision”on that particular day, but in my mind there is no doubt who the MVP of the Jets was.”

Paul has been a die hard fan for so long, it’s hard to imagine all the roller coaster rides the Jet franchise has taken him on. The early days are likely his favorites, the thrill of watching them win the Super Bowl was indescribable. The years that followed not so much. I inherited my father’s season tickets, and was a mainstay at Shea Stadium. The Jets have given him some ecstatic moments and some devastating ones as well. In some ways, the Jets have taught not only to Paul but all fans to never to give up hope, that there is always another year and another opportunity.

Sometimes Paul wonders why he has remained loyal to the franchise. Especially since moving to Pennsylvania 30 years ago, and being surrounded by Steeler and Eagle fans. It would have been an easy switch, but he has Green and White in the veins. Paul been a fan for a very long time, a Jet fan for life. Taking up the philosophy that “we’ll get them next year” decades ago, and it keeps him coming back year after year.  Ultimately, it is his fellow Jet fans that has kept him around all these years, they are some of the greatest people and loves the fellow fans as much as he loves the team.

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

I would have to agree with Paul so much about the love the Jet fans have not only for the team but for fellow fans.  As Jet fans you become much more than just rooting for a team but a family.  Any Jet fan can go to the stadium or go to a Jet bar or go anywhere alone and I promise you by the end of that game you will no longer be alone.  We stand together because we are Jet fans.

The last story I’d like to share is one that comes from when I met up at a Jets Fan Club in Las Vegas, NV.  These people are the most amazing and warm hearted individuals you could ever meet.  So there are so many stories I could share from that bar. Whether it be a Pam and her husband to Sergio and Richard (they are not a couple in a marriage sense, it was a bromance like Revis and Cromartie) who pumped everyone up and got the chants going.

You had Jets’ sponsor Jet Blue’s very own Johnny and many more.  It was a family when someone was missing, we wanted to know why.  Lisa (cancer survivor) and husband Gary always arrived with a lucky Jet bear and Jet mugs to drink for the whole game. But one man’s story tugged my heart here.

Scott Lefkowitz always had jokes.  He always would say that “I always loved the Jets, even when they broke his heart.”  This was funny and slightly heartbreaking.  He would often mention why are we even Jets fans if we stink so bad even as a child he would ask his father the same question. There are so many times that he and his father would go to these games and just freeze for hours only to have the Jets lose.  And his journey with his father answers that question.

At the age of seven years old, he cried his heart out that his father was unable to obtain New York Giant tickets; however they were able to get Jets tickets.  See, he had what he and his father described to be as a crazy mom so even though when his father was unable to get him Giant tickets, he was so excited that he was able to get out of the house and bond with his father.

In a time when there were not many people that paid much attention to either Namath or the Jets, Scott was able to attend game after game because you could get tickets, often sitting many times on neighbors’ shoulders rooting on as a team just went further and further.  What a great feeling as your first year as a fan to be able to say you saw the Jets win a Super bowl. At that very moment he was hooked and he didn’t mind that it was the coldest temperature usually around 7 degrees going to these games. He cried and just wanted it to be out there cheering and believing with all of his heart.

One of his greatest memories as a child was when he use to call the Jets one year and was able to reach defensive coordinator Pete Carroll who is now with the Seattle Seahawks.  He was able to reach him through the switchboard at that time in pushing number three and once when he answered the phone, this excited kid pleaded to not hang up.  Pete was very kind and listened to what he had to say and even offered to have him call in weekly so that they would talk football after school and pretty much they would just talk about anything.

Scott was now around the age of 16, one day him and a bunch of teenagers were able to actually go to a game but a bunch of kids were making fun of him.  They said there’s no way you know Pete Carroll, that’s impossible you don’t know him. Imagine now, an excited Scott ran all the way down the stadium and yelled hey Pete hey Pete!  He was able to tell his voice immediately ran over to the sidelines and handed him a football.

If you ever talked to him, the stories just pouring out one after the other.  But it’s when he spoke of his father I could see it in his eyes.  There was another time that he mentioned that he was at the stadium waiting for his dad to arrive, the rain was just pouring down and that he was the only one in his section sitting and watching the game at this point there was a ridiculous score of about 31 to 0 as there was absolutely no way the Jets we’re going to win this game.

The reason of being there wasn’t just about the game but was a way for him to connect with his father. During the halftime show, his father was still not there.  Merrill Lynch was looking down on him from a box.  He surprised the young, drenched and alone Scott and brought him up into the luxury box even got to eat shrimp cocktail.  But it wasn’t that that made that game, it was sitting in that luxury box and looking down part way through the 4th quarter and seeing his father coming down to the section to look for him.

You have to remember this is the days when there was no cell phones, where you couldn’t just say hey I’m trying to get there running late or anything. His dad did not give up, going against many obstacles that lead to him showing up that late.  The Jets may not of won, but Scott running down from the luxury box to see his father turned the day into a win.

Dec 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets fans celebrate an overtime victory over the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. New York Jets defeat the New England Patriots 26-20 in OT. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Sadly, they moved to Las Vegas together and gave up their season tickets.  The last game that they had together was a preseason game with Brett Favre.  They continued watching all the games together until one day his father went and had open heart surgery. This was also the last year that Sanchez played.  His dad was struggling a lot and his condition was getting worse.

One day at the hospital, they were watching the Patriots play the Jets.  Late in the game, Sanchez threw an interception in the game. His father said, “It’s okay I don’t want to see you struggle no more, than his father then pulled him in close. Expecting to hear his father say that I love you son, he simply looked at him and said “Sanchez sucks.”  He kissed his father on his forehead and left both bummed out about his father and that the Jets had lost.

That night his father passed away.

However, the Jets impacted a father and son; it what brought them together when everything else in the world was less than perfect.  Some people may have initially thought it was strange when they saw Scott arrive at his father’s funeral wearing the number 7. People must of been thinking maybe they are just diehard fans as they saw the plaque of “Sanchez Sucks” quoted by his father or what kind of person wears a football jersey to a funeral.

But when Scott gave his eulogy and looked everybody in the eyes with nothing prepared and speaking from the heart, he addressed it. He said, “Many people are wondering why I came to the funeral wearing the number 73, it was not to be disrespectful or rude but as we all sit here, we noticed that my father’s coffin is closed.  Inside he’s holding a football that was given to me as a child from Pete Carroll and wearing his Joe Klecko Jersey, and I simply just wanted to be like my dad one last time.”

More jets: The Jets' road to a super upset

And so his whole life of wondering why am I a Jets Fan? Going through the heartach and pain, why put ourselves through it? Yes there were a couple ups but many more upsets and downs.  And then that’s when the answer came to him. It’s not about just being a fan, being a Jets fan is a way of life. A marriage: for better or worse, til death do us part.

Sometimes fans are gaining a gift much more precious than a materialistic trophy.  It brings us together with a common dream that is simply just a wish from the heart.  And that’s why Jet fans are rated as some of the most dedicated. We would never give up the hope and priceless moments we all share together.