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Former LIer hosting Jets fans in Indy

Jets fans Michael Greene, left, and Matthew Walsh

Jets fans Michael Greene, left, and Matthew Walsh watch last weekend's Jets-Chargers game at Mulcahy's in Wantagh. (January 17, 2010) Credit: John Dunn

Jets fans making the trip to Indianapolis already have found a home away from home.

In a curious twist, the downtown Indianapolis pub that Jets fans randomly selected as a meeting place - and then distributed to other fans on the team Web site's message board - is run by a former Long Islander who says he is "quietly rooting for the Jets.''

"It's incredibly random," said Mike Kaufmann, general manager of Claddagh Irish Pub. "The whole thing was very surprising when I learned of it a couple of days ago, but we're going to run with it. We're going to have fun."

The pub is only two blocks from Lucas Oil Stadium, so proximity probably is one reason Jets fans selected this place. Kaufmann, 31, said he learned of the Jets fans' plans to stake out his establishment when a TV reporter called a few days ago. That's when all those random calls from Jets fans looking for reservations began to make sense. And of course, he's more than pleased with the business.

"Anybody and everybody is welcome through our front doors," Kaufmann said. "But we're more than happy to have as many - or all - the Jets fans in Indianapolis to come here."

The strangest twist of all, of course, is the general manager's ties to New York, which Jets fans obviously had no idea about as they planned this get-together.

After graduating from high school in Rochester, Kaufmann came to Long Island and majored in political science and philosophy at Stony Brook University. After school, he moved to Babylon and worked for three years in the insurance business.

Kaufmann's football allegiance is with the Bears, thanks to having a Bears fan for a father. But for this weekend, he is rooting for the Jets to beat his hometown Colts.

Just don't expect to see him in a Jets jersey. After all, he's got an Indianapolis business to protect.

Kaufmann said between 30 and 40 Jets fans made reservations for Friday night, but the bigger crowd probably won't come in until Saturday, when most fans probably will fly in.

How many Jets fans does he expect?

Considering the way this has grown without his involvement, he didn't want to guess.

"I have a pretty good feeling," he said, "we're going to have a strong presence here."

New York Sports