Let’s start by getting one thing straight: The Super Bowl is being played in New Jersey.
Not New York, of which Mr. Sinatra sings. Not Manhattan, the place Woody Allen worships. Not Brooklyn, where Jay-Z is king.
The setting for the Seattle Seahawks’ matchup against the Denver Broncos is MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
You got that, Lewis and Clark?
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Where Bruce Springsteen is “The Boss.” Where Tony Soprano looked up from the menu and cut to black. And where Jimmy Hoffa was rumored to be chopped up and spread like fertilizer beneath one of the end zones.
New Jersey is the smart-ass sidekick to New York and Philadelphia. The capital of cojones and the birthplace of brash. It may not be as loud as CenturyLink on a decibel meter, but it’s the perfectly pugilistic place for the swaggering Seahawks to take on the world.
So if you’re making a Big Trip to the Big Game — or just watching it on TV — here’s what you need to know about my homeland, The Punchline State.
It is one of the greatest places in the world. No one is a stranger. The food is so good, people on death row request it for their last meals.
It has birthed some of the greatest artists of our time. In addition to Frank and Bruce, we brought you Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson. You’re welcome. But we are truly sorry about Joe Piscopo, Bruce Willis and the Jonas Brothers.
As for the jokes about Jersey, well, we brought it on ourselves, spawning the likes of Snooki and those awful Housewives from Franklin Lakes. Our geographic features include the New Jersey Turnpike (Exit 4, if you must know) and more than 100 of the nastiest toxic-waste sites in the country.
So come on out! But do leave those Seattle staples, socks with sandals, at home in your mudroom. Not only did East Rutherford get 13 inches of snow the other day, but Jersey folks will think you’re some kind of an idiot. Or a monk.
And for the love of Pete Carroll, stop with the Northwest passive-aggressiveness, the overthinking and overplanning that we’re famous for, and just cut to the chase when you’re talking, driving or ordering in any one of our gleaming roadside diners. (“Whaddaya want,
New Jersey people just don’t have the patience for Northwest nattering. They don’t mess around.
After all, this is the state where the governor’s aides deliberately snarled traffic on the George Washington Bridge for four days in the fall, just to get back at a mayor who wouldn’t endorse him.
The state where, in 2009, rabbis were convicted of corruption, money laundering and selling body parts. Two mayors and two assemblymen were in on it, too. Mazel tov.
The state where the manager of the famous Tick Tock Diner allegedly tried last March to off the diner’s owner — his own uncle — to get to the safe full of money he thought he was owed. (It was reported that the nephew even ordered a side of torture with the hit.)
Stop in when you’re there, though. The Tick Tock is just a stone’s throw from the stadium, and they bake everything on the premises.
You can also drive over to 14 Aspen Drive in North Caldwell, where Tony Soprano picked the paper off the driveway and fed the ducks, God rest his Jersey soul.
There will be open arms for you at Rockafella’s Sports Bar & Grill, which is flying the Seahawks flag.
“I’m gonna be honest with you; most of my fantasy football players are from the Seahawks,” said owner Rocco Pasquinucci, whose name, like most in New Jersey, sounds like something you put on an antipasto platter. “Marshawn Lynch and Golden Tate and even (Russell) Wilson.
“It’s funny, though, I lost the fantasy Super Bowl this year,” he said. “Now that they are coming here, it’s actually pretty exciting.”
The Jets and Giants fans who fill the place, he said, will be happy to make room for the out-of-towners.
Come on. It’s the Super Bowl.
“It’s not their teams, but they are pretty mellow about it,” he said. “I think the Jets fans are siding with Seattle and the Giants fans are going with Eli Manning’s brother (Peyton Manning, the Broncos’ quarterback). The Jets fans don’t want another Manning to win it here. The Jets fans are sick of the Mannings.”
As for Pasquinucci? He’s sick about the fact that East Rutherford Mayor Jim Cassella can’t get into the game. He lost the lottery held for season-ticket holders and is left without a ticket.
“They totally are dissing the mayor of the town,” Pasquinucci said. “He’s turned into Rodney Dangerfield; he gets no respect. Here you are, you’re hosting the Super Bowl, and he’s an afterthought. And I’ll be honest … it’s insulting to the town.”
So where will Mayor Cassella be on Super Bowl Sunday? He’s hosting a block party on Park Avenue in East Rutherford. Closing the whole street off.
That’s what you do in Jersey. Take the hit, get back up and make your own party, with plenty of food and attitude.
That’s what keeps Jersey on the map.
Reach Nicole Brodeur at 206-464-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.