Tampa Bay Sports Day

The UFL Opens in New York (In A Stadium Soon To Be A Memory)

It was a long wait from the first announcement of the United Football League until Thursday night when a game was finally played in front of a local audience. While it wasn’t a “packed house” at the Meadowlands for the game between the California Redwoods and the New York Sentinels, the crowd was at least enjoying the game, even on a night when football was up against the Yankees playing in the World Series.

Everyone involved with the UFL keeps using the catch phrase “alternative entertainment,” but I prefer to use the term “football at a price everyone can afford to watch.”  With seats priced at levels even lower then most college football games, everyone should be taking advantage of the chance to see professional football.

If you tally the cost of going to an NFL Game (even if you have tickets you purchased at regular face value), you would have already priced the average person out of their rent or mortgage payment for a month. With the going price for a UFL seat at $20 per, a family of 4 can have an affordable day or night of football.

While Thursday’s game was another loss for New York, they continue to improve in every facet of the game. Recent additions to the roster include former NFL Punter Scott Player, who wears a faceguard out of the 1950’s era.  When I asked New York head coach Ted Cottrell about player’s faceguard (as I’m an ex-kicker/punter and wore a similar one as a youth player in the 1960’s and 70’s), he lit up that great smile of his and told us, “they’ve (the team) never seen it!”

California would win this game by a 20-13 score, but New York kept it more then interesting, considering they had given up 17 points in the first half. Give the New York coaches and players credit for not packing it in early, as you could almost hear echoes of Herman Edwards famous “you play to win the game” quote along with his infamous (to Giants fans) fumble recovery for a touchdown throughout the halls of the building that will soon be torn down.

Personally, I spent many years learning about football In the Meadowlands, as both a fan sitting in section 311(row 25, seats 6-10), and later as I began my sports writing career. It holds a special place for me, and having the opportunity to cover the first UFL game here just made this last year of the building’s existence and my memories of it that much sweeter for me.

Both coaches have a wide array of feelings about the building as well. Redwoods head coach Dennis Green was asked about it and told us, “It was exciting to be at Giants Stadium, but once the game starts, you don’t notice. All the players were excited.”

He also made mention of the famous “Open Doors” Incident that he felt cost him a win over the Giants when the facilities staff would open the doors on the field level to allow the wind to aid a Giants’ field goal attempt or punt and then make sure they were closed for the opposing team In the same situation.

Coach Cottrell offered some other thoughts on the positive side:  “It was great to be in the area we’re locating to. I wish it (the game) had come out another way.” He went on to tell us “This ball park is great for fans. The new one (stadium) is going to be even better.” He still holds a deep fondness for the area from his time as a Rutgers assistant coach, and as the Jets defensive coordinator, but also recounted his famous quote as a Bills assistant when his defensive players talked about coming to New York to play the Jets, “It’s not New York, it’s East Rutherford New Jersey.”

All that being said, the stadium with the skyline of Manhattan in clear view will be missed by many people, but will be remembered for many great moments, including the launch of the UFL in the NY area.