The American flag is unfurled over the field during the National Anthem. (Photo by Brian Anthony Price)
By Brian Anthony Price
The New York Jets kicked off Monday Night Football with a tough 10-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. However, the team scored big with our servicemen and women.
Prior to the game, over 200 troops from all four branches unfurled a massive American flag over the new football field.
It was a proud moment for Jets owner, Woody Johnson: “We’ve got a B-52 bomber flying over the stadium during the National Anthem. We’re extending a flag over the entire field. We’ve invited hundreds of soldiers to be in attendance at the game. We want everybody to know how much we love and support our soldiers.”
Johnson showed his personal support by spending time with the evening’s honorees. DCCS Frank Ferrantelli of the USS New York was among them. “I’m honored to be here as this is my first ever live Jets game. To be welcomed personally by the owner? That’s something I’ll never forget.” Ferrantelli hails from Staten Island and describes himself as life-long, die-hard Jet fan.
Jets owner Woody Johnson with DCCS Ferrantelli. (Photo by Brian Anthony Price)
The feeling is mutual. “Having just honored the anniversary of 9/11 we wanted to do something special,” said Fullback Tony Richardson, whose father served in Viet Nam and sister is on active duty. “The pre-game ceremony was very emotional and touched a lot of players’ hearts. Honoring our troops puts things in perspective and helps us to appreciate everything we have as Americans.”
Fellow fullback and rookie sensation John “The Terminator” Connor added: “Being part of such a patriotic celebration was a dream come true. I dreamed of growing up and having a chance to honor people who have served. It was a very special moment for me to also honor the fallen of 9/11 as a player in New York.“
The Jets will be saluting the military throughout the season under Johnson’s direction: “We’re at war and everything we do is about our warriors in combat. Our identity, not as athletes, not as Jets, not as people in the NFL, but as Americans, is (reflected in) our troops. We are who we are because our liberties are protected by men and women fighting for us all over the world.”
Special thanks to Robert Mastroddi, Bruce Speight and the entire Jets organization and front office.