First of all, if you believe Jimmy Hoffa is buried under the end zone of Giants Stadium, you’re probably wrong.
“He ain’t here,” insists John Samerjan, vice president of public affairs for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which runs the stadium.
“We have never been contacted, in the history of the authority, by any law-enforcement agency or investigative authority about the possibility of this being true,” Samerjan says.
Maybe not. But since Hoffa vanished 25 years ago today from a parking lot in suburban Detroit, scores of folk legends, rumors and legitimate leads have led to few public conclusions on the disappearance of one of American history’s most prominent labor leaders.
Accounts of varying reliability place Hoffa’s murdered body at the bottom of Michigan lakes or rivers. Others say he was dumped in Florida, or encased in concrete in a Los Angeles nightclub. Still others say his remains were incinerated. Nearly all say the mob was involved.
Although Hoffa disappeared in 1975 and was declared legally dead in 1982, the FBI’s official investigation remains open, and it continues to appeal to the public for help.
“The objective is to attempt to locate Jimmy Hoffa, and then engage in an investigation based upon the facts once he’s located, “ says Hank Glaspie, a special agent in the FBI’s Detroit field office.
Past FBI statements and leaked reports on early stages of the investigation indicate the agency believes the mob was behind Hoffa’s disappearance, perhaps because it was concerned about his efforts to reclaim leadership of the Teamsters.
Lately, agents on the case “don’t have anything new to provide that would warrant a statement,” Glaspie says.
The Teamsters and the Hoffa family will not comment on the 25th anniversary of James R. Hoffa’s disappearance, according to a Teamsters spokesman. Hoffa’s son, James P. Hoffa, currently holds his father’s old position as head of the union.
Five years ago, on the 20th anniversary of his disappearance, about 300 people close to Hoffa attended a memorial service at the Most Holy Trinity Church in Detroit, according to The Associated Press.
“There’s an emptiness that we have and we’re never going to resolve it,” James P. Hoffa said at the time. “This is a closure today. We’ve lost a loved one, but we’ve got to go on. Today is a healing day.”
The elder Hoffa “literally touched millions and millions of workers in this country … who know a quality of life that was not possible before Jimmy Hoffa,” said Ed Scribner, who was the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO president.
Hoffa started out as a rank-and-file worker, but rose to the top of Detroit Teamsters Local 299, which he transformed into a regional powerhouse with 15,000 members.
Many teamsters revere Hoffa as a legend who made their union one of the most influential America has ever seen. As president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 1964, he negotiated the first industry-wide contract, the National Master Freight Agreement.
Legal troubles in the mid-1960s loosened Hoffa’s grip on the union. Eventually, he served four years in jail for jury tampering and defrauding a Teamsters pension fund. President Nixon commuted his sentence in 1971, but conditions of his release barred him from union activity until 1980.