New York Jets coach Rex Ryan understands that Sunday's 2011 NFL season-opening game against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC) is about much more than football. It comes on the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Ryan said he feels "more pressure" because of the anniversary than he normally would.
"I feel (like) it’s different, like a responsibility. I have to make sure, and every week it’s my responsibility to make sure our team is prepared and all that kind of stuff, but I don’t know, it just feels different to me," Ryan said. "The significance of it, I think it’s stronger than any game I’ve ever felt. I feel more pressure on this game for whatever reason than any game I’ve ever coached, it seems like.
(I feel a responsibility) for this whole region, this whole area. I know it’s football and we’re not talking about life or death or anything like that, but I don’t know, that’s kind of how I’m taking it. It’s my job. My job is to get this team ready to go and we will (be ready), but I can’t explain it, why I feel this way or whatever, but I do."
The Jets have announced special plans to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9-11. They include:
- Each fan will receive an American Flag upon entrance to MetLife Stadium.
- Taps will be streamed live into the stadium with the backdrop of the World Trade Center site.
- FDNY, NYPD and PAPD bagpipers will perform Amazing Grace from the field.
- Our nation's colors will be presented by New York City Joint Service Color Guard.
- A full-field American Flag will be unfurled and held by members of the military, FDNY, NYPD and PAPD alongside both the Cowboys and the Jets.
- Our National Anthem will be performed by New York native and Grammy Award-winning artist Mary J. Blige.
- Children of first responders will serve as the team's honorary captains.
Fans are asked to remain in their seats for the halftime 9-11 tribute, which will include:
- Halftime will open with New York native and Academy Award-winning actor Robert De Niro narrating a powerful moment created by family members of 9/11 victims, represented by Tuesday’s Children.
- John Ondrasik of Five For Fighting will perform an acoustic, piano version of "Superman (It’s Not Easy)." Superman, off the album America Town, became an anthem for many after the September 11th attacks. A version of the song was performed at The Concert for New York City in late 2001.
During The Game:
Fans who wish to make a donation to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum can text to pledge during the game. Fans who text HOPE to 80088 will make a $10 donation.
The FDNY and NYPD hats that will be worn on the sidelines by players and coaches will be the Jets Shop Item of the Week at the game and available online at jetsshop.com. The hats will retail for $15 and 100 percent of the proceeds from sales of the hat will be donated to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.