MetLife Stadium will be quiet to start this season, and at least for the foreseeable future, and it will not be because Big Blue and Green Green are losing.
There will be no “J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets” chants. “Let’s go Giants” will not be heard.
Due to the novel coronavirus, the stands will be empty. But fans still plan to enjoy every game.
The Post got the game plan from five different diehard Jets and Giants fans about their strategies to make the most out of their Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays this fall.
Bob’s Big Blue bar
“Bob’s Bar” will be rocking Monday night when the Giants kick off the Joe Judge era against the Steelers. It will be a party on most Sunday afternoons they are on the field. There will be music, food and football.
Technically, it’s just Bob Morash’s backyard. But this fall, the West Babylon, L.I., home will double as a destination spot for Giants fans who are friends with the 59-year-old supermarket manager.
“It makes everybody feel like they’re somewhere,” Morash said. “You have something to do.”
This is no ordinary setup. Morash has a wooden 14-by-10, L-shaped outdoor bar. He has heaters for when it gets cold. He has four television sets and a cornhole setup. On game days, he will cook multiple meals — starting with breakfast, followed by appetizers and the main barbeque course of hot dogs, hamburgers and shrimp. He won’t go overboard, though, capping his parties at 20 people.
“I have a great neighborhood,” he said. “There’s never complaints no matter how late it’s going on.”
This summer, he has had people over for Islanders playoff games and Yankees games. The Giants, however, are his first love. As a kid, he was drawn to them, because they were losing so much. When they won Super Bowl XXI in 1987, “it was one of the happiest times of my life,” he said.
Morash has a 17-year-old Pomeranian named Wellington, after late Giants owner Wellington Mara. His son Shaun’s middle name is Taylor, after Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, and Shaun’s daughter is named Taylor for the same reason.
“He’s a nut,” Shaun joked.
During Giants games this year in his backyard, Morash plans to play the same music they do at MetLife Stadium — like “New York Groove,” “Jump Around” and “Welcome to the Jungle.” They will ring a bell after Giants touchdowns and have Baileys shots available to celebrate those scores.
“We create the whole game experience,” said Morash, who will be wearing his blue Victor Cruz jersey for each game.
On a normal game day, Michael Marino gets up at 3:30 in the morning, leaves his home by 4:30 and arrives outside of the MetLife Stadium parking lot by 5:30.
Tailgating is a day-long activity for him.
“I don’t act it, but I’m 52,” he said with a laugh.
And, despite not being able to attend games this year, the Ocean Township, N.J., native isn’t planning to change. He’ll still be tailgating for hours before every Giants game. This year, it will just be at his home, out of his custom-made Giants van that has “THE TAILGATE MACHINE” and logos from the team’s recent Super Bowl victories on its side.
“That van is a rolling party,” he said.
Marino’s driveway setup will include tents, tables and his traditional barbeque offerings. He will roll out a few of his television sets. Once the game begins, it will move into his basement, where he has seven TVs and a large bar.
“This to me is fun. This is throwing a little wrinkle into it,” said Marino, a financial services consultant who noted that he will keep his parties at a respectable number to adhere to state social-distancing guidelines. “My friends will get a kick out of it.”
Marino, a season ticket-holder for 35 years, has been a Giants fan for as long as he can remember. He had no choice. His father and his uncle were Giants fans. So is his son.
This is always Marino’s favorite time of the year, the start of another season. This fall, of course, is different. It doesn’t feel the same, knowing he won’t be in the building when the Giants open Monday night against the Steelers.
“This year it feels disconnected,” he said. “So what is it going to be like not being able to go? I’m going to make the best of it. It’s going to be weird. I’m going to miss it tremendously.”
Still, Marino will do his best to channel the atmosphere at Giants games. He has family and friends depending on him.
“They know I’m an idiot and they know I got it covered, let’s put it that way,” he said.
Following from afar
Kenny Scarabaggio calls his fandom a “following.” Others might characterize it as an obsession.
He has missed two Jets home games since 1982, and one of them — due to a wedding of a close friend — he tried to attend, before losing out to his wife, Alyson. He attends at least six road games a year.
“Oh, I’m going to have you home on the weekend this year,” Alyson jokes with him.
It certainly will be different. Scarabaggio isn’t used to watching the Jets on television. He compared it to the Super Bowl, since the Jets haven’t played in The Big Game since he was a child.
“I’m going to miss it,” said the 57-year-old superfan from Manalapan, N.J. “It’s going to be like living in the same house for 50 years and then moving.”
He will be making the most of it, though, setting up television sets in his backyard with his son, Kenny Jr., his father and close friends. He has a fire pit to stay warm in case the temperature drops, a swimming pool to cool off if it gets too hot and plans to barbeque.
Scarabaggio, who works in sales for ADT Security, has been taking Kenny Jr., 28, to Jets games since he was 5 years old. Kenny Jr. always sits to his right, because Scarabaggio likes the aisle seat. He’s ready to start a new tradition now.
“Let’s put it this way: When we watch the first game, wherever we’re sitting, [if] they win, I’m staying there,” he joked.
That will be one of many changes for Scarabaggio on Sundays. He won’t be at MetLife Stadium or on the road with the Jets and he won’t be wearing his No. 33 Jamal Adams jersey, either, after the Pro Bowl safety was traded to the Seahawks.
“I made a decision: Every time the Jets have a superstar and you buy the jersey, the guy’s gone within two years,” he said. “I’ll stick with my Joe Namath, the greatest Jet of all time.”
Parked in garage
In the late 1990s, Bob Gallagher began watching football games in his garage out of necessity. He put a television set in there, so he could watch his Giants and smoke cigarettes at the same time, to avoid his young daughter inhaling second-hand smoke.
“In those years, you were smoking a lot because the Giants were blowing games left and right,” he joked. “That’s how this became a thing.”
Now, the garage — adorned as his personal Giants man cave with posters, photos, newspaper clippings and team flags — will become his own personal MetLife Stadium now that fans are not allowed to attend games this year.
The 62-year-old from North Brunswick, N.J., who usually attends four Giants games a year, has hosted big parties before, but due to COVID-19, there will only be small gatherings this year. Only close friends who have recently been tested for the virus and family members will be invited. He plans to make it as festive as possible, tailgating hours before kickoff with his homemade bratwurst he claims are the best on the East Coast. He considers himself the maître d’ and the garage his own personal restaurant.
“It’s like being at the stadium — as much as I can replicate it,” said Gallagher, a records manager for Jersey City. “It’s as close as you’re going to get.”
It obviously won’t be the same, Gallagher admitted. You can’t match the energy or the emotion of the stadium filled with fans. But he still plans to enjoy the season, and will make the most of it in his garage.
“It’s awesome. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to this,” Gallagher said. “My only fear is it gets stopped. I hope it doesn’t.”
Mobile fan fest
The Jets are more than a hobby for Jack Ransom and his three sons. The team represents a bonding exercise, a chance for them to stay connected even as they all live their own lives.
Before they could even understand the sport, Jeff (now 35), Chris (32) and James (25) were wearing green and white, and their father was rolling them into the stadium in strollers. He began taking them to games at the age of 3, and they’ve been sitting together in Ransom’s seats ever since.
“It’s a social thing,” the 68-year-old Marlboro, N.J., native said. “It gives me a chance to spend Sunday afternoons with my sons, starting at 9:30 in the morning and ending at 4:30 p.m. [for 1 p.m. games].”
A member of the Jets’ Fan Hall of Fame, Ransom still has big plans for Sundays. He will be spending them with his sons. Instead of being at the stadium, they will rotate among each other’s homes, tailgating and watching the games. They will also be part of a Zoom meeting during games with other Jets fans they usually tailgate and sit with, to enhance the experience.
“At least we have that. We’ll be together,” Ransom said. “Watch the games and hopefully they can pull out a win on Sunday. That’ll make us look forward to the games as they go forward.”
Ransom is a lifelong Jets fan, dating back to the first season they were known as the Jets, in 1963. When the team signed Joe Namath in 1965, Ransom’s older brother, Tom, bought season tickets, and they have stayed in the family. Though the team has only won the one Super Bowl — when Ransom was still in high school — and hasn’t reached the playoffs in nearly a decade, Gang Green remains a source of joy for him and his family.
“The game is the most important thing, but the social aspect of it makes it a lot of fun,” he said. “I can’t think of a sport where people socialize like they do at football. I’ll miss it.”