As a long time New York Jets season ticket holder, I am very excited over the New York Jets drafting of USC Quarterback Sam Darnold. Most New York Jet fans are excited because many scouts, writers and fans believe that Sam Darnold was hands down, the best quarterback available to be drafted in the 2018 NFL Draft. Of course there were those who believed Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen were better prospects. However, the overall consensus among anyone with an interest in the NFL, believed Sam Darnold was the man. Incredibly, at number three, the New York Jets had the chance to draft Darnold and they did not let him get away. If not for nothing, It would have been a nightmare for the New York Jets management had they passed on Sam Darnold when they had the chance to draft him. In essence,they really had no choice once they saw he was still available at number three. Even if the New York Jets had Josh Rosen graded higher than Sam Darnold, there was no way the New York Jets could have passed on Sam Darnold. Here’s the real reason why.
As a New York Jets longtime season ticket holder who goes all the way back to the house that Robert Moses built (Shea Stadium), I have seen a dramatic shift in the fan base that attends the New York Jets home games. Since the New York Jets and New York Giants moved into their new building almost ten years ago, both teams have seen their fan base that attends home games shrink dramatically. There are multiple reasons for this unforeseen change among the executives and owners that run both teams.
The New York Giants were always known as being the impossible football ticket in town at the old Meadowlands that was called Giants stadium. There was a long waiting list filled supposedly with millions of names waiting for the opportunity to buy New York Giants season tickets. I know many people who were on that list and never got a call. The New York Jets may have not had the same reputation as being such a tough ticket, but the truth was they also had a waiting list for season tickets and most people on that list never got a call either. New York NFL season football tickets were family owned treasures, heirlooms that were handed down from generation to generation and rarely were ever let go. They were like gold. That all changed in 2008 when both teams decided to build a new stadium together and begin the hated PSL program.
We wont get into the entire PSL story and the details behind the implementation and what it did to fans. In short, what the PSL did was change the majority of the fan base that attends games for both teams, especially the New York Jets. Most fans who sat at the old stadium between the goal lines in the lower deck and mezzanine were priced out of keeping their tickets. Long time New York Jets fans who were hardcore and attended every game were forced to give up their season tickets because they could not afford PSL’s that ranged from five to twenty-five thousand dollars per seat. The cost of the seats also went sky-high jumping from an average of ninety-five dollars a seat between the 20 yard lines to 400 to 700 dollars a seat. Those were, and still are, the regular season ticket prices after you had already paid or were asked to pay between ten and twenty thousand dollars per seat.
Most New York Jets fans who had end zone seats or upper deck seats kept their tickets. The end zone seats that were given up by season ticket holders were sold to those ticket holders who sat between the goal lines who wanted to continue going to games but could not afford the price of sitting along the sidelines in the lower and mezzanine decks. Sounds incredible, but it happened. It’s not just the Jets and Giants, it happened in many stadiums around the NFL. Can anyone say Dallas?
What does this all have to do with why The New York Jets drafted Sam Darnold?
For the past seven seasons I have sat in the end zone at MetLife stadium for every New York Jets home game.Over the past five years, I have witnessed a home base of New York Jets fans become smaller with each game. From our seats in the corner of the end zone, we have a clear view of the crowds along the sidelines. In the old stadium, those crowds were filled with green jerseys. For the past couple of years those crowds have been filled with the colors of the visiting team.
Its tough and embarrassing to sit in a stadium and hear the crowd roar louder for the visiting team than the home team. However, depending on the visiting team, that has been the case at New York Jets home games over the past four to five seasons. Most of the old Jets fans base is gone. It has been replaced by cooperate crowds and fans of opposing teams buying those tickets. Many of the people and corporations and businesses that own the sidelines seats stay inside the clubhouses during the first half of the games. It’s amazing how many empty seats there are inside the forty yard lines during the first half of New York Jets games.
Things have gotten worse during the past two seasons. Even in the end zone where most New York Jets fans relocated, we have been seeing more and more opposing team jerseys. Fights break out constantly between fans. The cursing and screaming has made it a very unpleasant experience. Fans in the end zones have been giving up their tickets. The New York Jets fans have been fed up with the team’s performance which has fueled season ticket holders to sell their tickets which has basically caused the horrible experiences we now all share in the stands. When the Pittsburgh Steelers came to town, I felt like I was at a home Steelers games. The same could be said for visits by the Green Bay Packers and especially the San Francisco 49ers a few years ago. MetLife Stadium was flooded with San Francisco 49ers Jerseys for that one. It seems only when the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins come to town it still feels like a home game.
What does this all have to do with why The New York Jets Drafted Sam Darnold?
When the New York Jets drafted Sanchez in 2009, New York Jets fans went crazy. For many of us, we were hoping Sanchez would be the second coming of Joe Namath. We are always hoping for the return of Joe Namath in some sort of form. I was at Metlife Stadium when Mark Sanchez played his first game as a New York Jet. It was a preseason game. Mark Sanchez had not started the game. When Rex Ryan put Mark Sanchez in the game, the crowd went nuts.He had nit even started the play and the crowd was cheering like crazy. On his very first play as a New York Jet that evening, Mark Sanchez threw a 20 to 30 yard completed sideline pass. The stadium went bonkers. It was like the New York Jets had won the Super Bowl. The savior had arrived. It was not just a completed sideline preseason pass, it was the glorious New York Jets future unfolding before our eyes. It was a euphoric feeling that had not been felt in years. The crowd that witnessed that moment were real New York Jets fans. In that moment, it was great to be a New York Jets fan.The crowd was going crazy. It was rowdy, but it was New York Jets fans that were going crazy and rowdy together. It was the final season at the old Meadowlands Stadium. (Jet fans hate calling it Giants Stadium)
Mark Sanchez had two very successful years with the New York Jets by bringing them to two straight AFC Championship games. However, many of us do remember that there were so many games that the New York Jets won in the last second those two years, In many cases everything just seemed to go right. Since the New York Jets lost that second AFC Championship game, its been pretty much downhill ever since. Faith has been lost and with that fading promise, many loyal fans have given up hope …..along with their season tickets.
Ten years ago, it would have been unimaginable that the New York Jets would be advertising on television and radio that great New York Jets Season Tickets were available. What’s even more unimaginable is that for the upcoming season the New York Jets actually lowered my season ticket prices.(would it be too much to ask for a PSL refund too?) The New York Jets can’t sell tickets anymore and they are struggling to hold onto the season tickets holders they do have. If it weren’t for the PSL investments that many fans foolishly brought including myself, the season ticket holder fan base would have deteriorated even more.
What does this all have to do with why The New York Jets Drafted Sam Darnold?
Well maybe we have not come out and said it directly but it’s pretty obvious that the New York Jets are in desperate straits to sell tickets and hold onto their season ticket holders. To be fair, the New York Jets outside of the utilization of PSL’s, treat their season tickets holders well. The Jets try to entertain the fans at the stadium with their cheerleaders and pre-game activities. They offer the option of accumulating points on season tickets holders accounts redeemable for merchandise and enhanced game experience options like holding the flag before the game. They offer a number to report fan issues, and they generally seem to care about their fans. Nonetheless, the team’s play on the field, and in many cases off the field, accompanied by game experiences in which we feel like we are attending a road game has fueled an exodus of season ticket holders that the New York Jets have been attempting to hault.
Will Sam Darnold prevent more season ticket holders from selling off their tickets? Will Sam Darnold help sell more tickets to actual Jets fans. If the man wins games, the fans will come back, real jets fans will come back. If Sam Darnold bring the Jets to the playoffs New York Jets season ticket holders will start reclaiming their stadium. If Sam Darnold win’s a Super Bowl, that old season tickets waiting list will 100%, be resurrected. Sadly, if all that happens, the tickets prices will probably go through the roof and all of us in the end zones and upper deck won’t be able to afford them anymore.