There's a New Team in Town: The Tri-State Shields of the National Public Safety Football League
Warren Rosenberg and Clark Thompson, MetroSports Magazine
On Saturday September 19th, the Tri-State Shields took on the New York Bandits in a highly anticipated semi-pro football game at Joe Fosina Field in New Rochelle. Although this was the team’s second game, it wasn’t their second battle. The Tri-State Shields first battle was mapped out in May of last year at a Cleveland bar, when eight members of the NYPD decided it was time for a new team, one that would provide a more convenient practice location than at Utec high school in Brooklyn where the eight played as members of the NYC Department of Sanitation’s, NY Strongest Football team.
According to team president, Shawn Wandell, with no coaching staff, no home field and no funding, the battle to secure a franchise with the National Public Safety Football League (NPSFL) was far from a sure thing. But this scrappy band of brothers fought on, secured funding from the law firm Kreindler and Kreindler, found a coaching staff and practice field, were voted into the NPSFL in November, and fielded a team of 60 members. Chartered as a “a team comprised of Police, Fire, Corrections, Courts, Federal Agents, Military and E.M.S. personnel, the team’s members represent the NYPD, Clarkstown P.D., New Rochelle P.D., Darien P.D., Bridgeport P.D., Westport P.D., Suffolk P.D., Connecticut Dept. of Correction, NYC and New York State Departments of Correction, NYC Hospital Police, NYC Homeless Police, Federal Police, the FDNY, Norwalk Fire Department and the NYC Dept. of Sanitation.
The NPSFL had previously released a 2020 season schedule with the Tri-State Shields set to take on the Philadelphia Blue Flame, the FDNY Bravest, the Cleveland Police Department and NYC Department of Sanitation Strongest back in March, April and May. When the Covid-19 pandemic began to make its mark known in late February, that schedule was cancelled. With the pandemic losing its grip in the tri-state region and athletic competitions once again being allowed in the tri-state region, a new schedule was developed. Saturday’s game was originally scheduled to pit the Tri-State Shields against the FDNY Bravest team in a contest billed as the First Responders Bowl. When the FDNY announced on September 4th that they were cancelling their fall schedule, the Shields reached out and found a worthy opponent in the Bandits.
Under a beautiful sky, Saturday’s game opened with a stirring rendition of the National Anthem, performed on-field by Cesar Munoz who also provided the upbeat musical entertainment through Total DJs’ Music Productions. Free energy drinks were distributed by REIGN – Total Body Fuel and hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza provided by the team.
When play started, the first to touch the ball was #83 of the Shields who kicked off the game at 1:07pm. Things did not look good for the Shields as, less than 1 minute later the Bandits #11 returned the opening kick-off for the first score of the game. The Shields defense held tight and shut down the Bandits two-point conversion attempt and the Shields came back to score on their first possession, added the two-point conversion, and pulled ahead, 8-6, all within 10 minutes of the game’s start. And they never looked back. At the end of the first quarter it was apparent that the Bandits could not get their running game going with the Shields defense stuffing them at the line on almost every play. The Shields defense held tight for the rest of the game and the Bandits would not score again. The offense came alive and put up 26 points giving the Shields their first win, a 26-6 victory.
Team Captain, Ivan Monge commented after the game, “we won and we played very well and we’re united with everything that’s going on. We had a lot of fun.”
As the team gathered on the field following the win, Head Coach Jeff Pastore told them, “guys, good job, but we gotta clean some things up. A special shout-out to the offensive line. We won the turnover battle and we won the penalty battle.” After the game, coach Jeff Pastore told MetroSports Magazine “It was a tough game, it was a closer game than the score actually shows, they played hard from start to finish – they took the opening kick-off to the house and we were just fortunate enough on defense to shut down their drives - my hats off to them. Our guys put it on when they had to, we left some stuff on the field but I’m proud of both teams. For their effort, the team took home the semipro football Eastern Conference League’s 2020 “Tougher Than Covid” trophy.
Next up for the Tri-State Shields is a game against the Boldest Football team of the NYC Department of Correction on October 17. For the Boldest’s promotion of the game, they’ve adopted the phrase, “The Virus Took Football Away From Us...On 10-17-20, We Are Taking It Back.”
Look for more in-depth coverage of the Tri-State Shields in the upcoming September-October 2020 issue of MetroSports Magazine due out following the game on October 17th.