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James Gandolfini loved his Jets

James Gandolfini accepting the award for outstanding performance

James Gandolfini accepting the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a drama series for his work in "The Sopranos" at the 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles. (Jan. 27, 2008) Photo Credit: AP

Outside of his two children’s games, Tony Soprano’s sports interests focused primarily on wagering, a business in which he might have dabbled.

But the actor who portrayed him, James Gandolfini, who died Wednesday, was a genuine fan who was a regular at metropolitan-area games, notably involving Rutgers and the Jets.

In a 2007 episode of “The Sopranos,’’ Tony is told Eric Mangini – “Mangenius’’ – is sitting at a nearby restaurant table. The mob boss seems uncharacteristically star-struck.

“It’s the Jets coach, Sweetie,’’ he tells his wife, Carmela, played by Edie Falco (Northport High ‘81). “I should go say hello.’’ One week later, the show went dark, forever.

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