In a sea of aqua and coral down in Miami, Rob Nacarano stands out when he and his crew wear their New York Jets green. After starting the South Florida Jets Fan Club with only a few members in 2003, Nacarano has helped the club balloon to over 500 members.
"I didn't know how many Jets fans were down here," said Nacarano, who is stepping down as the group's leader for a while so he can spend more time with his family. "You just live and learn basically when you're here. I never imagined so many people from New York are here. It just grew and grew each and every year. Word of mouth, emails, the club's website, posting on newyorkjets.com, the word gets around."
Nacarano grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and was a Jets fan since he was young. In fact the first ever Jets game that the 51-year-old attended was the 1973 finale at Shea Stadium against the Buffalo Bills when O.J. Simpson rushed for 200 yards to become the first running back to eclipse 2,000 yards in a season.
Since that time, Nacarano has been a diehard Jets fan, even when he moved to Florida in 1986. In the years that followed, he realized that there was a solid base of New Yorkers who have relocated to Florida and thus plenty of Jets fans in the Miami area.
Now that he's stepped away from his duties, he's going to take the season to evaluate whether he wants to come back next year.
"I enjoy doing this, supporting the Jets, and I'll have a year to see what happens," Nacarano said. "Anything can happen in a year. I'm sure a lot of people will want me back next year, but who knows, maybe the guys who are running it now will do a better job than I did."
The new leaders will have big shoes to fill. Nacarano's presence at the fan club's headquarters at HammerJacks Sports Bar & Grille in Davie was unquestioned as he was able to consistently rally 150 people for every Jets game. That number typically jumped to over 200 for playoff games, and Nacarano made sure to organize specials with the bar and also initiate raffles, and gameday pools, with money raised going to Jets charities like the Jerricho Cotchery and Marty Lyons foundations.
Nacarano was also able to convince Vinny Testaverde to join his group at HammerJacks for last season's matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
One of the most important services Nacarano provided to the fan club was organizing group attendance at every Jets game at the Dolphins' stadium. On Sunday night a group of 73 Jets fans will fill Section 416, Rows 15-19, at Sun Life Stadium to cheer on the Jets as they visit their divisional rivals.
"Just to bring the New York Jets fans here in South Florida all together, to help these people out and have fun and enjoy their time there — that was my main concentration," Nacarano said. "I always said to myself basically that it's all about the fan club members. That's how I looked at it and that's how I always wanted it to be."
An accountant who works from home, Nacarano has been lucky enough to travel to see the Jets in many locations. He even attended the New Jersey Walk With Us to Cure Lupus event at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center and also attended Jets training camp in Cortland, N.Y., this summer. He had the chance to meet head coach Rex Ryan and Joe Namath at the events, presenting them with South Florida Jets Fan Club T-shirts.
He also helped Namath start up his new Website, BroadwayJoe.tv, and always tries to attend Jets events in Florida such as wide receiver David Clowney's events in Delray Beach.
Nacarano seems to be having a little bit of trouble with the separation now that he's stepped down, because his excitement for the Jets season is so high. Regardless, through his hard work and continued networking on fan boards like those at newyorkjets.com, the South Florida Jets Fan Club will endure.
"It took me a while to make a decision like that to step down," Nacarano said. "It was really, really hard and I got a lot of nice compliments. People are telling me they miss me there and 'It's not the same without you' and all that, which is always nice to hear. I'll go and visit them every once and a while."