“It’s the only team I’ve ever liked,” said West. “It’s the only team I’ve ever had a jersey for.”
West sports blue while on the job as a Kearny police detective, but outside of work, it’s green and white. Even on Christmas, when dressed as Santa, he wears a green and white Santa suit. “That’s my alter ego once a year,” he said.
“What makes a good tailgate? The people around you.” – Frank West
“What makes a good tailgate? The people around you,” said West, who hosts a regular group of friends that tailgate every game while meeting new friends in the process. “I don’t care if it’s pouring rain, sleet snow. That energy of being surrounded by Jets fans, that’s enough to make anything special.”
His tailgates and appetizers he makes onsite are legendary among Jets tailgaters, even beforehe was featured on an episode of the Food Network’s “Chopped,” titled. “Tailgate Fate” that aired in October of 2016.
When West won that contest, he offered to forego his $10,000 prize if contestants would share in a Jets chant. It turns out that that is against company policy, so West is reinvesting his prize money into a new custom tailgate trailer that he expects will cut the time it takes to smoke ribs in the Metlife Stadium parking lot from six hours to 45 minutes. He plans to affix to his trailer a pressurized smoker, a 48-inch grill to replace his current 30-inch grill, and an 18-gallon deep fryer to replace his current fryer, which is “only eight gallons.”
“The trailer is just going to make life a little easier for me,” West said.
Like many tailgaters, West takes special pride in his chicken wings. He likes to tell the story of a Buffalo Bills fan named Phil who tried his wings and claimed they were better than those served at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, the famous birthplace of the buffalo wing.
“He said the Anchor Bar doesn’t have s--- on this,” West said.
What’s unexpected from an avid tailgater is that West does not drink. “I won’t begrudge anyone for it. Anyone knows that I’ll be the first to buy a round at a bar.” But he acknowledges that it’s a part of the tailgate culture that he lives for. Before games, he makes shot glasses out of ice for fans to smash while they, themselves, get smashed.
For his fellow tailgaters and Jets fans, West publishes a hardcover, full-color annual yearbook. He takes tens of thousands of photos every season, and carefully crafts many of them into a look-back on the tailgates and official team events he attends. “Looking at my yearbook, you wouldn’t think some guy made this on his couch on a laptop,” he said.
Suffice it to say, West is a Jets fan worthy of induction into the Jets Fan Hall of Fame.
Fans of West’s fandom can vote for him at the NY Jets website: http://www.newyorkjets.com/sweepstakes/fanhalloffame.html.
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.