SUPER FAN PART 2
As Justin mentioned some great ideas for stocking stuffers for all of the football fanatics in your life, it reminds me of how important football fan fashion is to the gridiron worshippers that fill the stands every week. Jerseys, t-shirts, headwear, outerwear, and accessories all make great holiday gifts for football fans at this time of the year. The Super Fans that I will highlight all have taken their football fan fashion to another level and have become part of NFL history. Will the jersey that you buy for your brother/son/daughter/wife/husband inspire them to do the same?
Let's start on the East coast with New York Jets Super Fan "Fireman Ed," Ed Anzalone. His signature fashion: a Jets fireman's hat and a Bruce Harper Jersey. His super power: able to silence fans for the signature Jets chant. Claim to fame: got a game ball from Coach Rex Ryan after a victory over the Patriots. Ed Anzalone is a retired New York City Fireman from Engine 69, Ladder 28 in Harlem after completing 20 years of service. He even has his own Jets chant app!
Next stop on our Super Fan tour takes us to Baltimore, Md. and "Captain Dee-Fense," a retired Navy captain who works for the Department of Defense. His signature fashion: purple Navy hat, Ravens-colored camo pants and a Captain Dee-Fense t-shirt. How did he get his name? At Memorial Stadium, a younger Captain Dee used to yell "deeee-fense." At one game, when Captain Dee was wearing his Navy uniform, a little girl came up to him and said, "Hey, mister, aren't you the captain of the deeee-fense?" And the rest, as they say, is history. His super power: "Some people are followers, and some are leaders," said Captain Dee, whose costume is as much a tribute to the Ravens as it is to the military. "They need someone to get up and get them going to cheer. That's our job, to get the rest of the fans started." Claim to fame: a commercial appearance for M&T Bank check card.
Our next stop on the Super Fan tour is Green Bay, Wis. Among the sea of green and gold Packers fans you will find Saint Vince (John O'Neill). His signature fashion: a green robe, a bishop's hat featuring Vince Lombardi, and a championship stole. O'Neill also carries a staff topped with a cheesehead. On his finger is a miniature Super Bowl trophy, which a jeweler custom made. Saint Vince's claim to fame has landed him on the sports pages of newspapers and magazines across the country, and even internationally. Additionally, Maxim magazine listed him in 2009 as one of "The NFL's 9 Signature Fans." Fox Sports commentator and Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinee Howie Long anointed him as one of four NFL "Tough Guy" fans in 2006. His super power: other Packers fans love getting their picture with this Super Fan and his popularity has also benefitted a fitting charity: any donations offered by photo-seekers go to the Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic in Two Rivers (Lombardi died of cancer in 1970).
From Lambeau Field we travel to INVESCO Field at Mile High where the legendary "Barrel Man" rose to fame. His real name was Tim McKeman and for thirty years, in all types of weather, for every Broncos game he attended, he wore nothing but an orange barrel covering his torso, held up by suspenders, accessorized with a cowboy hat and boots. His super power: well, I think it's pretty obvious what his superpower is when you see all of the other fans in the stadium bundled in parkas and he is still sporting the Orange Barrel and not much else! Claim to fame: from 1977 through his retirement in 2007, he attended all but four games -- in the sun, rain, sleet or snow, wearing his signature outfit. In 2007, when he retired the barrel, he was honored by the Broncos during a halftime show where he was presented with a team football and other gifts, in addition to tons of fan appreciation. Fans still remember his legacy, and claim it keeps them going through good and bad seasons.
There are many other Super Fans all over the country, who use their unique fashions to show support and unconditional love for their favorite football team. The guys that I have highlighted are just a few that have become, in most instances, nearly as famous as the team's players. But they are still relatable. They sit in the stands with the rest of us. They represent the super fan that may exist in each of our hearts, even if we don't wear crazy outfits or war paint or something made to hold gallons and gallons of liquid.
As we're nearing the end of the regular season, this time of year can be difficult for fans of teams who have not fared very well. However, having a Super Fan to look to for guidance and hope in tough times can be comforting. It is good to know that you're not alone when it comes to the love you have for your (perhaps) lackluster team. These Super Fans show other fans that they should never give up hope. Never feel ashamed to be wearing your team's gear. Never stop telling your friends (or anyone that will listen): "Next year is going to be our year!"
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