An Overview of New Jersey Professional Sports Teams

New Jersey shares a significant amount of their own teams with New York, which can add to confusion about what teams the state has. Overall, just because the teams share New York’s name doesn’t mean New Jersey doesn’t have a stake in them as well. Despite having only one named professional league team, New jersey still shares a number of professional teams. This is in the form of New York and New Jersey sharing teams, especially when New York based teams call some New Jersey stadiums home. Here is WSN’s overview of the New Jersey pro sports landscape and how it affects New Jerseyans on the whole.

NHL

 The New Jersey Devils

Straight out of the gate is New Jersey’s only named state professional men’s team, the Devils.

Calling the Prudential Center their home, the Devils have had a long and storied career since their inception in 1974.

3 time NHL Stanley Cup winners in 95’, 99’ and 03’, The New Jersey Devils are considered hockey alumni amongst their peers.

Veteran star players include Patrik Eliáš, Taylor Hall, Martin Brodeur and Scott Stevens.

Recently, The Devils have had a rocky start to the 2018-19 season that was completely plagued by injuries including Devils MVP Taylor Hall.

The team ended up coming 8th overall in the metropolitan competition and failed to make the play-offs.

In retrospect, the Devils holds a special place in New Jerseyans hearts as the only named Pro team after the state in any league.

Their cultural impact on the state itself makes hockey the most watched sport by far.

It also means that New Jersey has some state representation, which we feel is important.

NBA

New Jersey like the rest of the major leagues, shares its team with New York.

The Brooklyn Nets

Potentially one of the most heartbreaking moves in New Jersey sports history is the transfer of the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn.

Formally known as the New Jersey Nets, the Brooklyn Nets made the switch from New Jersey to New York in 2012.

However, they still retained the same fans despite the name and location change.

Notable players include Buck Williams and Jason Kidd, among many others.

These players played for the original New Jersey team, which existed from 1977-2012.

During this time the Nets won two eastern NBA conferences but never won a league title. 

From 2012, they call their home in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

In the 2018-19 season, the Nets finished 6th in the Eastern Conference.

NFL

Once again New Jersey supports two notable teams from New York.

The New York Giants

As one of the oldest teams in the league, the Giants have seen much success over the teams storied career.

Since 2010, the Giants have played exclusively at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium as their home grounds, thus cementing them into New Jersey culture.

Notable players include linebacker Sam Huff, wide receiver Frank Gifford and current star quarterback Eli Manning.

After winning four Super Bowl championships, most recently in 2011, The Giants celebrated their 85th anniversary.

As they moved into the late 2010s, The Giants became the first team in NFL history to win 100 regular season games against an opponent after beating the Washington Redskins.

The New York Jets

The Jets have what some consider a ‘sibling rivalry’ with their New York partners the Giants.

It makes sense too, in terms of New Jersey involvement, they both share a home ground of MetLife Stadium, the only NFL teams in the league to do so.

This rivalry brings large crowds, with the last meeting in 2015 when the Jets won 23-20 in overtime.

Despite this rivalry, the Jets can be seen as underdogs in the New Jersey/New York football scene with only one Super Bowl victory in 1969.

Even still, the Jets have managed to make the playoffs 12 times since 1981.

Their popularity in New Jersey is not surpassed by the popularity of the Giants, so their cult-like status means their fans turn up in massive crowds when games are played at MetLife.

MLS

New York Red Bulls

When it comes to soccer in the United States, New Jersey are ahead of the curve when it comes to popularity.

Aside from Hockey, Major League Soccer is the most popular sport in the state, thanks in part to the New York Red Bulls.

Created in 1994, the Red Bulls are a New Jersey based New York team, with their home ground at Red Bull in Harrison.

Success in the league is fairly one sided, but the Red Bulls do pretty well for themselves; especially recently in 2018 when they came 1st overall for the Eastern Conference.

Typical of American soccer teams, the Red Bulls have a history of signing high-profile european soccer talent.

The Red Bulls’ horse in that race came in the form of famed French soccer player Thierry Henry.

Which became a wise purchase, as Henry became one of the highest scoring players in New York Red Bulls history.

Sky Blue FC

Soccer team based in Piscataway, New Jersey, Sky Blue FC is a Women’s professional soccer team.

Established in 2007, Sky Blue is one of 9 teams in the country and that number will only grow as soccer grows greater prominence.

Despite humble beginnings, Sky Blue has had disappointing seasons.

Early on, in the first WPS competition in 2009, Sky Blue became the first team to win, despite coming 4th in the regular season.

Since then they have only qualified once more in 2013 where they made the semi-finals.

Sky Blue FC is probably most well known for having star USA international soccer player Carli Lloyd, who was responsible for scoring three goals in the 2015 World Cup final.

For New Jersey this is equally as special as Carli is a New Jersey native herself.

New Jersey’s Teams

While New Jersey may not have that many solely owned state teams, there’s no denying the fandom and passion expressed at the games they see.

The support they give to the shared teams with New York and the teams of their own are the same

Ultimately, New Jerseyans support any number of teams cross-state, and their own professional representation is limited.

Perhaps, sometime in the future, this might change.

Also be sure to check out our guide to the 21 best sports bars in New Jersey and the 10 best indoor and outdoor arenas in New Jersey.

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