The New York Jets home season will start off poorly this year for some Jewish fans. And at least one of them insists that the Jets knew about a scheduling conflict with the Jewish calendar and did not take action until now.
According to the 2009 National Football League schedule announced on Tuesday, the Jets first two games in Giant Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., will take place on Sunday, Sept. 20, the second day of Rosh HaShanah, and at 4:15 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27, erev Yom Kippur. The late start of the second game would conflict with Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur evening services, which usually begin around 6:30 p.m.
Religiously observant fans who keep two days of Yom Tov will not be able to attend the Rosh Hashanah game, against perennial power New England Patriots, but Jets management has requested that the NFL reschedule kickoff of the Sept. 27 game, against the Tennessee Titans, to 1 p.m., allowing fans to return home in time for the pre-fast meal.
Many Jewish fans are upset by the scheduling conflict, says "an avid" Jets season ticket holder who had contacted the Jets and the N.Y. Giants earlier this year to alert them about the High Holy Days schedule.
"I’m not the only one" who informed the teams’ management of the impending problem, said the fan, a media professional in New York who asked not to be identified.
The Giants asked the NFL to either avoid home games on those two dates or schedule the erev Yom Kippur game for the earlier starting time, the fan explained. "This is a year when all the [fall] holidays come out on weekends." But it seems the Jets took no action.
"It’s impossible for both teams," which share a stadium and a limited availability of playing dates, "to be away on both weekends," he said, adding, that Jewish fans "are infuriated. The best home game of the year is scheduled [on Yom Tov] against the Patriots."
Jets chairman Robert Wood Johnson IV wrote he was "extremely disappointed with the League’s decision to schedule us to play at home on consecutive Sundays that are in direct conflict with the Jewish High Holy Days," in a letter he sent this week to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "There has long been an understanding that neither the Jets nor the Giants should have to bear completely the brunt of the issue since we are in the largest Jewish market in the country."
The Jets did not know the dates and starting times of this season’s game before this week’s announcement, a team representative said, speaking on background. "No one knows before that date."
The team contacted the league office, he said, because it expected Jets fans to be upset. "We had anticipated a reaction, and we got a reaction."
Complaints from Jewish seasons’ ticket holders engendered an outpouring of anti-Semitic comments in on-line blogs, insiders noted, to the extent that some media outlets stopped posting rants from fans complaining about any tampering with the schedule at this point.