All the trash talk between the Jets and Patriots last week took a bizarre turn into the stands Sunday. The man best known in the football world as Fireman Ed said Tuesday that New England fans placed "a bounty" on his Jets helmet as he tried to leave Gillette Stadium.
The ubiquitous Jets fan, a retired New York City firefighter whose real name is Ed Anzalone, stressed he didn't want to make a big deal out of the incident during a telephone interview with Newsday, though he did say that "getting out of there was no small task."
After the underdog Jets beat the Patriots, 28-21, to advance to the AFC Championship Game, Anzalone said fans targeted his trademark headgear. "One guy grabbed my helmet and threw it on the field," he said. "He went to take it and run away with it but Jets fans tackled him."
Aside from praising the stadium's security detail, Anzalone declined further comment regarding the postgame incident, saying that for the most part, the back-and-forth between fans was no different from what happens in every football stadium.
Besides, Anzalone is far too happy with the state of his team to spend much time talking about the past, not when the possibility of a Super Bowl berth is one game away.
Anzalone will be in Pittsburgh on Sunday, saying he was so confident that the Jets would be there that he bought his tickets on the Internet the night before the Patriots game.
A mainstay at Jets games for three decades, Anzalone stayed home from last year's AFC title game in Indianapolis, a decision he made out of superstition.
"I'm not really a superstitious guy, but last year, I bought into the whole superstitious deal," he said. "The same people had to be here, the same clothes, the same everything. But once we lost in Indianapolis, I threw that out the window because it didn't work."
This year, he was in Indianapolis and New England for the playoff games, will be in Pittsburgh and you'll see him at the Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas, if the Jets are there.
And, yes, he says he pays for his tickets.
"Everyone thinks I get my season tickets for free and everything but that's not the case," he said. "I pay for them. I'm a regular fan."
Anzalone said his third-row seats on the 50-yard line for Sunday's game cost about $700 a seat on StubHub.
He said he likes to be close to the Jets' bench, where he can yell encouragement.
"I'm not a trash talker like Rex [Ryan], but Rex backs it up and I'm with him, no matter what," Anzalone said. "I love him. I go where he goes. I'm with him. I'm one of his soldiers."