When Mike Cuozzo showed up at the Hyatt Hotel in Jersey City on Jan. 26, the crowd booed him.
He was dressed up in the green uniform of a Seattle Seahawk, while many of the people in the crowd awaiting the arrival of the Denver Broncos wore their orange jerseys.
“I’m used to it,” said Cuozzo, who has become something of an outcast in his home state of Pennsylvania, where most of people he knows are Philadelphia Eagle fans. “They’re always telling me how my team sucks. Let my team suck. My team is in the Super Bowl. Theirs isn’t.”
Cuozzo came to the Hyatt not to taunt the Bronco fans but to meet his brother, who is a Broncos fan, making the Super Bowl XLVIII something of a family feud.
For the most part, both Cuozzo and the other Bronco fans were taunting each other in good fun, all of them grateful to be able to greet the teams that were staying in Jersey City.
Cuozzo later went to more friendly territory in front of the Weston Hotel ten blocks away to see the Seattle Seahawks arrive.
“My team is in the Super Bowl. Theirs isn’t.” – Mike Cuozzo
“I see them whenever they come to the area, whether to Philadelphia or the Meadowlands,” he said.
Jay Marchetti, who lived in Hoboken prior to moving to Jersey City, came over to greet the team as well, saying that he’d always been a fan of legendary Broncos quarterback John Elway. Indeed, a number of fans carried or wore jerseys bearing Elway’s name and number.
Devin Brandon of Jersey City wore garments emblazoned with New Jersey Giants insignias. A big fan of the Giants, Brandon said he had come to greet Eli Manning’s older brother, Peyton Manning.
Eli Manning, the New York Giants quarterback, lives in Hoboken. Peyton Manning is the quarterback for the Broncos.
The city of Jersey City, in partnership with the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the two Super Bowl teams to Jersey City at two separate public events. These featured activities for children that include a Field Goal Kicking Contest, music, giveaways, hot chocolate, and more.
The city raised donations for the greeting from Mack-Cali, the Hyatt, Newport Development Associates, the Westin, the Jersey City Medical Center and the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce. The city has installed banners along Christopher Columbus Drive, the route the players will take from Newark-Liberty Airport to their hotels in Jersey City, turning Christopher Columbus Drive into Super Bowl Drive.
As the temperature outside plummeted, the crowd grew more restless. The small heating tent overflowed with people seeking warmth. A DJ spun tasty tunes as organizers from the city dished out hot chocolate, tea, coffee, apple cider, and tote bags.
Visitors included a number of local officials, from Freeholder Anthony Romano to Jersey City Councilman Richard Boggiano.
Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop braved the cold as well, eventually offering sanctuary on the Hyatt Hotel parking deck for shivering fans, and taking his place beside police to direct foot traffic. He later issued an official proclamation to John Elway.
Francesca Giarraina and Jackie Cizneros were two members of the official greeting committee, holding up signs at each hotel for each of the arriving teams.
Bob Abernathy had come from elsewhere in New Jersey because his wife was originally from Colorado and was a big fan of Denver.
“We had to come greet the team,” he said.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.