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Jets fans spell out their devotion on license plates

Jets fan Carole Pace, 42, shows off her

Jets fan Carole Pace, 42, shows off her Dodge Neon's license plate. (Jan. 18, 2010) Credit: James Carbone

For some fans a mere jersey falls short. Even a team towel, beer stein and underwear can't express the full measure of their devotion.

Among Jets fans on Long Island, a select few have gone beyond common gestures and use custom license plates to announce their allegiance to an underdog team now one game from its first Super Bowl since 1969.

Fritz Winther, whose green Honda Accord sports a JETFTBAL plate, remembers being 16 years old in Baldwin Harbor and watching Joe Namath in that game. It seemed then that the team's future would be full of such victories.

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Ah, youth!

"I can't put into words what I have been through with these Jets," said Winther, 56. "A lot of down years and a lot of heartache."

There's a spectrum of fan intensity, and it's safe to say those with plates that read JETS68, JETSMAN or JETGOD - all Long Island tags - have a very deep, some would say obsessive, attachment to their team.

Winther arrived at his job making artificial limbs Monday dressed all in green. The shingles on the roof of his Huntington Station home are also green. His pug, Squishy, has a Jets jersey.

His wife, Sherri, really, really, wants the Jets to win.

"They have lost so many times and you just feel so bad for him," said Sherri, 51.

Carole Pace of Calverton grew up in a family of Jets fans. She wears Jets slippers and pajama pants. She screamed and cried Sunday when the Jets beat the San Diego Chargers to advance to the AFC title game.

Her red Dodge Neon has plates that read JETSGAL1.

"I want everybody to know that I'm a Jets fan," she said.

The plate draws appreciative honks on the road, said Pace, 42. Then there are the Giants fans. Pace said Giants fans have been known to give her an offensive hand gesture, especially when the Jets are doing poorly.

George Giuliano - JETSRNO1 graces the plates on his Nissan Altima - returned to Queens in the late 1960s after serving in Vietnam. He was in his early 20s and got hooked on the Jets and Joe Namath.

After the war, Giuliano said the Jets, and the Knicks and Mets of that era, provided needed relief as he adjusted to being home.

"It changed my life in a lot of ways," said the now 63-year-old Kings Park resident.

Things are different this year said Winther, Pace and other Long Islanders with Jets fan plates. The team, they said, now feels like one that could do what seemed unthinkable less than a month ago.

Giuliano was a bit more skeptical, though he doesn't rule it out.

"I'm not delusional to the point where I think they are going to the Super Bowl," he said. "But you just don't know."

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