One team thought it had the game locked up, but the other team was on fire!
Firefighters and corrections officers battled for city dominance on a Marine Park gridiron on April 20 as the Bravest and Boldest played their annual football game at Aviator Sports. One Bravest coach said the victorious teammates have so much chemistry because they live together — not to mention put out fires alongside one another.
“We work, sleep and eat together, you don’t get a closer job than we have,” said assistant coach Steve Orr. “Football adds to it.”
The Bravest defeated the Boldest 21 to 14 on April 20. The Bravest fields firefighters, while the Boldest squad is made up of Department of Corrections employees. Both teams play in the National Public Safety Football League, which has teams of cops, firefighters, emergency service workers, and other such professions from around the country. The Bravest’s regular season always concludes with a game against the police of the Finest in a competition that has historical significance, according to Orr.
“You could lose every other game, but if you won the cop game, it was a good season,” said Orr, a Bergen Beach native who used to play as a safety and punt returner for the team.
The rivalry between the Bravest and the Boldest is similarly strong, with the Boldest winning three years in a row until last year, when the Bravest finally bested the Corrections squad. The April 20 game lived up to the hype, with around 100 people packing into the stands to watch the players square off. The Bravest squad was bolstered by a punt return for a touchdown, and two great touchdown catches by receivers James LaMaccia and Eric Ortega.
“We played a good team,” said Orr, who is also team vice president. “We knew it would be a close game.”
The teams in the league use the games to raise money for charity. This year, the Bravest team is supporting the Thomas R. Elsasser Fund, which supports families of firefighters who died, and the Fire Family Transport Foundation, which helps bring injured firefighters to and from medical centers for care.