If you're a Jets fan, don't give up your dream of someday playing for the team. At this pace, Rex Ryan just might be willing to make it happen.
A week after delivering a phone message to season-ticket holders imploring them to be loud during last weekend's game against the Patriots, the first-year coach made the unprecedented move of delivering a game ball to the team's most famous fan - Fireman Ed - in recognition of the fans' support during the Jets' 16-9 win.
Fireman Ed, whose real name is Ed Anzalone, is a New York City firefighter who wears a Jets jersey and a Jets-themed fireman's hat to all home games and leads the crowd in chants of "J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!" He received the ball during a team meeting today.
"On behalf of the fans and representing the fans, we gave him a game ball," Ryan said. "There's two, actually, one in our trophy case and we gave him the other one. He does a great job."
Following Sunday's win, the team's first over their division rivals at the Meadowlands since 2000, many of the Jets credited the crowd with pumping them up.
"He wasn't the only fan you would notice, but I don't know the names of everybody else," Ryan said. "I'm sure there was Fireman Joe and everybody else out there. It was great because they're our fans and we decided it was a little token of our appreciation to give him a game ball."
Ryan said Fireman Ed was "all fired up" during their meeting.
"He's expecting a lot of wins, as are our fans, and he said this is only the start and our guys understand that," Ryan said.
Referring to the rest of the team's fans in an interview with the team's web site, Fireman Ed said, "Their passion is as great as mine is. There's no difference. I'm just blessed to be able to lead the orchestra, to get them crazy."
Ryan, who has been anything but shy during his first few months as coach of the team, urged fans to make things "miserable" for Tom Brady and the Patriots when he delivered his voicemail message last week.