New York – The NFL kicked off the football season Thursday with what could end up being a new tradition: A rocking concert in Times Square featuring Bon Jovi, Eve and more, in what was dubbed "the world's biggest tailgate party."
And with the NFL estimating attendance at 500,000, it definitely lived up to its name.
"To be asked to do this is a great thrill," said Bon Jovi at a pre-concert press conference. "If we weren't asked to do this I'd be so jealous, sitting at home watching TV. We're here to offer our gratitude from the city to the world that gave New York all their thoughts and prayers."
New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Gov. George Pataki also made appearances and speeches, but it was the performers who got all the attention.
Eve got the party going with her hit "Let Me Blow Your Mind," and Enrique Iglesias serenaded the audience with "Bailamo." 'N Sync's Joey Fatone performed with the cast of Broadway's Rent, and there was even an NFL fashion show with appearances by former players Dan Marino, Laurence Taylor and Marcus Allen.
Streets were lined from 42nd all the way up to 57th with partiers and some 5,700-strong NYPD officers, ensuring the crowd's safety throughout the event.
"I'm not nervous at all, not with all the police here," said one woman who called herself a tourist from Brooklyn. A man standing next to her added, "I'm happy for New York that we're all out and we're not afraid."
Bon Jovi performed previous hits "It's My Life" and "Wanted Dead or Alive," but also sang three songs from their new album Bounce, due to hit record stores in October. He dedicated "Undivided," a song about unity, to the victims of 9/11 and their families, and closed out the show with a rock 'n' roll rendition of "America the Beautiful."
The party ended just in time for the opening kickoff of the Giants/49er's season opener across the river at Giants Stadium.