An Open Letter to Jeffrey Lange, Infamous Snowball Thrower

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 |

Dear Jeff (can I call you Jeff?),

You're a rather difficult fellow to find, I must say, especially for a lazy non-reporter like myself who didn't try very hard*. My guess is, after the unfortunate events of December 23, 1995 and their subsequent aftermath, you moved away from the area. Who could blame you? 

Still, you may have heard that the San Diego Chargers are coming to town to take on the Giants this Sunday, Jeff. Would you believe the last time the Chargers visited Giants Stadium was 1995?

I know, I know. It's crazy. I was at that game, too. And 14 years is a long time to wait for redemption, brother.

Hell, I was 20 years old then. I had long hair, two earrings in my left ear, and not a care in the world at the time. I thought Phish was really rad. The Giants, on the other hand, were not rad, Jeff. Instead, they were awful. This was year two of the Dave Brown era, mind you. The season, I'm sure you remember, opened with a 35-0 home loss to Dallas on Monday Night Football and did not get much better after that. The team finished 5-11 and did not have a single player selected to the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive year. Not even Rodney Hampton, who posted a career-high 1,182 yards rushing that season. So when 24 unanswered second-half points turned a promising 17-3 halftime lead into yet another agonizing loss, punctuated with the final indignity of a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown, you and I and everyone else at Giants Stadium let it be known we'd had enough.

And we reached down below our seats, filled our ski-gloved hands with copious amounts of hard-packed snow (and ice), and hurled it. Boy did we hurl it. 

That's where you come in, Jeff. And the 15 guys who got arrested that day. And the 115 fans who were ejected by police, ejections resulting in the revocation of 75 season-ticket packages. It was quite a scene.

But as you argued before the judge, you were far from the only one throwing snowballs that miserable Christmas Eve Eve. You were just the one unlucky enough to be singled out by an Associated Press cameraman and, the following day, by The New York Post. Tough break, Jeff.

As my friend Andy (who attended this game with me and The Old Man) recently recalled over email, "every single person in that stadium was throwing snowballs. Every single one." That may be little consolation to you now, seeing as how your life's been ruined and all, but Andy is 100% right. Everyone was throwing snowballs. If you know someone who attended that game, be assured that that person chucked some snow. That means your mom, your dad, your uncle Lou. Father McGuigan. Your barber, your congressman, your nanna. Sheila from accounts receivable and her husband, Irv. Your fourth grade teacher, your dry cleaner, the Harry M. Stevens guy. All the dudes in the wheelchair section. Everyone, Jeff. Everyone.**

"I hate to see this," Giants owner Wellington Mara said shortly afterward, "but I guess it's human nature. People see snow, they make snowballs."

Why nobody came forward to defend you, other than your attorney, I can't really say. I can only assume it was because the rest of us feared losing our season tickets. Or maybe it had something to do with your previous burglary and assault charges. But 14 years later, now that the statute of limitations has run out, I'll confess that I lobbed one or two myself, most likely in the general direction of the side judge. I've always had it in for side judges, Jeff.

I'm fairly certain, though, that neither you nor I was the fan whose icy projectile struck and knocked unconscious Chargers equipment manager Sid Brooks, who had to be removed from the field on a stretcher. Like Dave Brown, I am simply not that accurate (especially throwing into swirling winds) and I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt. It's about time somebody did, Jeff.

I don't know if this letter will ever reach you, but if it does, be heartened by the knowledge that Sunday offers a chance for renewal. The Chargers will be in town, without Junior Seau, and there is no snow in the forecast. If you can scrounge up a ticket, consider yourself cordially invited to our tailgate near 10C.

I'll see you there, Jeff. Beers are on me.



* = In case you're curious, Jeff, there are 112 different Jeffrey Langes on Facebook. And can you believe how old Jessica Lange got? 
** = Except The Old Man, who does not partake in shenanigans.  
Lange photo by Bill Kostroun, Associated Press.