From Sinatra to Soprano, New Jersey is known for its tough guys, real and fictional. Some of the Garden State’s toughest are known for their gridiron heroics. Pro Football Hall of Fame members like Elvis Bethea, Franco Harris, and Andre Tippett are all Jersey guys. Super Bowl champion quarterbacks Joe Theismann and Joe Flacco hail from there too. Another football star from New Jersey, albeit not in the NFL, is Steve Lonegan, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate who today is looking to complete a Jets over Colts, Namath-sized upset.
Lonegan played football at what is now William Paterson University. Lonegan was a star center for the Pioneers when the school was still known as William Paterson College. The team selected Lonegan as captain thanks to his leadership skills. The hard worker’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed off campus either. In 1979 Lonegan was named to the All Conference team.
Lonegan loved every minute of it.
Now, Lonegan is committed to helping the young people who attend those colleges and universities find jobs once they graduate.
If this race compares to anything we’ve ever seen on a football field, the Bills and Oilers AFC Wild Card game in 1993 comes to mind. Buffalo trailed by 32 points, only to keep plugging along and eventually come all the way back to stun Houston 41-38 in overtime. Early in this Senate campaign, pollsters put Hollywood tweetheart Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) ahead of Lonegan by over 30 points. While Booker rubbed elbows with the Matt Damons of the world, Lonegan knocked on doors from Cape May to Sussex and closed the gap. Now, voters will decide the outcome.
New Jersey is known for its tough guys (and women, as Sarah Palin pointed out at a rally this past weekend). Garden Staters have a chance to elect one of those guys. Lonegan has proven through his life that he’s tough physically and mentally. He’s ready to go to DC and make tough decisions during tough times. Some of the good, honest work he learned through athletics will go with him. Will New Jersey push this former football star over the goal line or fumble away a golden opportunity? We will know very soon.