SEATTLE SEAHAWKS & New Orleans Saints 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
It’s 2:30 a.m. on a cold and blustery Saturday night in Jerusalem and while the
majority of watering holes in the center of town are starting to empty out, one
pub is just starting to fill up.
It’s the NFL playoffs and Jerusalem’s
only true sports bar “The Lion’s Den” (or HaGov; located at the corner of Yoel
Solomon and Shamai streets) is getting ready to air the day’s second wild-card
game, a highly anticipated rematch between last year’s AFC Champions the
Indianapolis Colts, and the AFC runner-up New York Jets.
In 2010, the
Colts came back from 11 points down at the half against the Jets to punch their
ticket to Superbowl XLIV.
On this night however, the Jets would get their
revenge defeating the Colts on a last second field goal 17-16 to earn a trip to
Foxborough, Massachusetts to battle their arch rival and heavily favored New
England Patriots in the Divisional Round.
According to one of HaGov’s
owners Yonah Mishaan, the Jets are “the most popular football team at the venue,
with the strongest fan base” due to the influx of New York ex-pats living in
Jerusalem, and the many Yeshiva and college students who call New York
Dressed in their green and white, these rabid fans surround the
multiple plasma screens throughout the bar in anticipation of their
While the Jets/Colts game is the featured attraction, in
actuality a diverse NFL fan base of Anglos living in Israel – Hebrew speakers,
tourists, and students – have already been at HaGov for several hours to watch
the first game of the evening between the Seattle Seahawks and the defending
Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints.
Neither franchise has a strong
Israel fan base, although one Seattle native at the bar, Ben Bloch, watches with
a mixture of nervousness and delight as the 10 point underdog ’Hawks come from
behind to take a precarious lead, late in the game.
Bloch, a Seattle
transplant who made aliya three years ago continues to follow his beloved team
religiously at all hours of the night.
With Seattle up by only four
points with nine minutes to go, Bloch sits at the bar biting the nails on his
left hand to the cuticle while nursing a huge one-liter mug of draft beer in the
“Just give me the ball, and I would run over [New Orleans],” says
Bloch, only semi-jokingly. Bloch does in fact play offensive line for the
Jerusalem Kings in the Kraft Family Israel Football League.
runs out on the champion Saints, and Bloch jumps off his chair to do a small
victory dance in celebration of the Seattle win.
“We’re not going to win
the Super Bowl,” he says, “but at least we won tonight,” he adds before joyously
disappearing through the bar’s doors into the cold Jerusalem night.
and several other patrons exit following game one, a horde of Jets supporters
quickly claim the vacated seats. It’s now almost 3:30 a.m. and the bar is
pumping with chants of “J-E-T-S. Jets. Jets. Jets.”
later as the sun begins to rise, the Jets escape with their one point victory on
a last second field goal.
Despite sacrificing an entire night of sleep,
these adrenaline- filled fanatics pour out into Kikar Zion in festive
celebration of their team’s success.
The Jets will most likely lose to
New England next week, but for one long night only, their team is on top of the
Josh Hasten is a disappointed Indianapolis Colts fan living in
Israel. He co-hosts the AFI/WAFI football hour, on Israelsportsradio.com every
Wednesday at 5 p.m.