So the question for Dan Feeney was as follows:
If beer chugging was an Olympic sport, could you win a gold medal?
Dan Feeney chuckles and says:
“I don’t know. There’s a lot of good drinkers in the United States, so I don’t know. I’d like to think I’d be on the USA Drinking Team, for sure.”
Funny how life works sometimes. You spend your football career toiling in the anonymity of being an an offensive lineman, you sign a free-agent contract with the Jets as a key backup, and next thing you know, you become a viral cult hero, raucously cheering on the Islanders, whose fans are suddenly cheering you on as the Beer Chug Guy.
He will be the one with the mullet and the mustache at The Barn for Game 3 of Islanders-Lightning. He will be the one in an Islanders No. 67 jersey — his Jets number — whipping himself and a crew of Jets teammates and his new band of brothers, the Islanders fans, into even more of a frenzy.
“Oh my God,” Feeney said. “The atmosphere at The Barn is unreal. … It’s electric.”
He would add: “It’s contagious. It feels like that thing’s dang near shaking.”
The electricity seems to crackle through Feeney’s 6-foot-4, 305-pound body. Asked what gets into him, he says with a chuckle: “Obviously excitement, if you couldn’t tell from the videos. It’s an incredible place to be, man. We love having fun there, we love supporting a fellow New York team. We love going out there, having a couple of cocktails and, you know, having a couple bits of fun.”
Feeney often caps his beer chug by smashing the beer can against his head several times. Where did that originate?
“Years of practice in college,” Feeney said.
“I don’t know, I just got really excited,” Feeney said. “It seemed fitting for an electric atmosphere.”
His beer of choice? “I guess Budweiser’s kind of my go-to lately,” he said.
Feeney grew up in the Chicago area as a Blackhawks fan, but never played hockey. “I’m not too good on skates,” Feeney said. “I look like Bambi.”
He never attended a Blackhawks playoff game there. The Islanders — always the team of choice for Jets guard Greg Van Roten, a native Long Islander — have won him over.
“They’re awesome,” he said. “There’s no, obviously, like no huge superstar, but they’re a very well-oiled machine, they play so well together, just nice fundamental hockey.”
Dan Feeney attends a first-round Islanders home game.Getty Images
He especially likes Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier and tough guy Matt Martin.
“I love that the Islanders are just this gritty team. … All these guys are in sync with each other, their lines have been solid, they’re obviously switching every 23 seconds, they’re out there for a minute, they’re grinding it out,” Feeney said.
He enjoyed being recognized by Islanders fans as the Beer Chug Guy, and his family is on board with his sudden fame.
“My family’s kind of running with it,” Feeney said.
His mullet and his mustache now adorn charity Feeney T-shirts for the MS Society, where his sister Shannon works. “She’s a do-gooder, always has been,” Feeney said.
Feeney attends an Islanders-Penguins game with Zach Wilson.Getty Images
Feeney is hoping rookie Jets quarterback Zach Wilson will again join him and his other teammates on Thursday night. Feeney blocked last season for Chargers phenom Justin Herbert. I asked him to compare the two.
“It’s hard to compare, because they’re too different personalities, two different styles of quarterbacks,” Feeney said. “But I think obviously Zach, he’s got a great head on his shoulders. I think the sky’s the limit for this kid. I think he’s gonna be in the league for a while. He seems very understanding, he is picking up the offense very well, so I’m just excited to see him progressing.”
Feeney could never imagine becoming an internet sensation and cult figure. Who could?
“Not really, not really,” he said. “The ball rolls, gotta roll with it.”
He plans to keep rolling with the Islanders on their Stanley Cup journey. And with Islanders fans. “They’re pretty passionate people, I know that,” Feeney said. “They’re diehards for sure.”
Of course he watched Game 2 on Tuesday night. Feeney won’t be difficult to spot on Thursday night. Mullet or no mullet. Will he keep wearing it?
“It kind of seems like I have to,” Feeney said, “but you never know how the world turns out.”
You sure don’t.