Jets owner Woody Johnson sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell Thursday stating that he is "disappointed'' that the league scheduled two of the Jets' games during the Jewish High Holy Days and requesting that the kickoff of the second game be moved up.
Both the Jets and the NFL have been flooded with calls and e-mails from Jewish fans since it was announced that the Jets' home opener against the New England Patriots Sept. 20 was scheduled during Rosh Hashanah, to be followed the next Sunday by a game against the Titans that is scheduled to kick off at 4:15 p.m., just hours before Yom Kippur starts at sundown Sept. 27.
League spokesman Brian McCarthy acknowledged that the NFL had received the letter and was reviewing it. Earlier in the day, the NFL released a statement saying that it was seeing if anything could be done about the time of the Sept. 27 game.
New York boasts the country's largest Jewish population and both the Giants and the Jets had requested to be on the road during those two weeks. The Giants are on the road both days, and unlike the Jets, their game times are not in conflict with the holidays. Their Sept. 20 game that opens the Cowboys' new stadium starts at 8:20 p.m. and their Sept. 27 game at Tampa Bay begins at 1 p.m.
This is certainly not the first time the Jets have played during the Jewish holidays - most memorably, Vinny Testaverde tore his Achilles tendon during the second day of Rosh Hashanah in 1999 - but this is thought to be the first time that two Jets games were in conflict with the holidays. What's more, both games are against marquee opponents: the Patriots, who will be returning with Tom Brady, and the Titans.
"It's really unfair," said Ira Lieberfarb, whose family has had Jets season tickets for more than 30 years. "Basically, I can't go to a fourth of the games this year.''
Lieberfarb, who lives on Staten Island, said he would try to go to the Sept. 27 game if the league moved the kickoff time to 1. He noted that other Jewish fans who live farther away still might have to leave at the end of the third quarter to be safe. On Sept. 27, 2008, the sun set at 6:45.
"A lot can happen in one quarter," said Freedman, who is a freshman at the University at Buffalo but plans to come back for several Jets games. "You could leave to go home and miss an entire comeback.''