COVID-19 grounds Jets superfan ‘Ira from SI’ for first time in 15 years

When the Jets and Giants take the field at MetLife Stadium this season, there won’t be 82,000 screaming fans in attendance, thanks to COVID-19 rules. Among those sidelined will be Jets superfan Ira Lieberfarb — the famed “Ira from Staten Island” to millions of WFAN listeners — who, for the first time in 15 years, will not be able to watch his team live. Lieberfarb, 66, a retired auto-parts wholesaler and part-time swim instructor laments to The Post’s Dean Balsamini why Sundays won’t be the same.

I’ve been a Jets fan since 1964. I was 10 years old. When the team signed Joe Namath a year later, I was hooked.

In 2000, I started going to every game, home and away. The last time I missed was November 2005 — a road game against the Carolina Panthers. My father bailed on me last minute, and on my way to the airport I turned around and drove home. Probably a good thing. The Jets lost 30-3.

Not going to training camp this year for the first time in decades was tough. But when the Jets open the season in Buffalo against the Bills, it’s going to be very weird not being there.

Under normal circumstances, I would have flown to Buffalo on Saturday, rented a car, checked into the hotel and waited for the team to get there, and then have dinner with several friends from the organization. I buy all my road seats on Stubhub in August.

On gameday, I always sit in the upper deck. At MetLife, section 313. You get a better perspective up high.

Not this year. I’m grounded. I’ll be home on Staten Island sitting in my Jets rocking chair watching the game with my wife, Linda, on my 46-inch flatscreen. This is going to be major withdrawal. Not seeing my boys in person is taking a piece out of me. To this day, there’s nothing like it when you walk into the stadium and you see the field and the players come out to warm up. It makes me feel alive … like I’m part of the game.

On TV, you don’t see what’s going on in the secondary. And what happens on TV happens a few seconds later than when it really happens! That’s a killer: knowing in my head that the guy’s probably tackled already and I’m watching the ball in the air.

At the games, I buy a pretzel. I don’t have a clue what I’ll eat at home. However the bathroom trips will be easier and if the Jets lose, I won’t have to deal with the brutal flight home.

When the virus hit New York bad in March and April, I was very vocal on the radio that I wouldn’t go to games until there was a vaccine. I see a few teams are allowing some fans inside, but I won’t be going anywhere. I wasn’t surprised when the Jets decided to ban fans from MetLife, but very selfishly, I was kind of glad they did that because the temptation to go to a home game would have been devastating. The safety of my wife comes first.

Some things will remain the same. I’ll call into ESPN radio and WFAN before the game. That’s tradition. It has to be done.

I always call (WFAN talk show host and tortured Jets fan) Joe Benigno at home. When I’m at the stadium, I give him the weather report, what uniforms they are wearing, how the kickers are looking.

I’ll miss bumping into some of my old Jet favorites in the concourse before home games: Chad Pennington, Wesley Walker, Bruce Harper, Anthony Becht and Wayne Chrebet.

This Sunday, before the game, I’ll have to take a walk. I can’t watch the pregame show. Even if I could let people in the house, I couldn’t do it. I need to zone in.

At halftime, I might text people. If something really crazy goes on, I’ll give Joe Benigno a call.

I’m superstitious. I have a Jet gym bag that I’ll always put in the trunk of my car.

The reason I committed to going to all these games? It’s like chasing the Holy Grail. I want to do this until they get to the Super Bowl.

If the Jets stay healthy and Sam Darnold lives up to his potential, I see my boys winning six games. But it’s the Jets. Knowing them, the year I can’t see them live will be the year they win it all.

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