06 February 2012
Hey, we beat the Patriots in the playoffs, too! On the road at that! It's really not that difficult!
Last night was rough. If you are a real, die-hard Jets fan you had to do some serious soul-searching. How did I get to this point? If I would have chose the Giants over the Jets (and the Yankees over the Mets, in my case), I would have seven championships (eight if you include Super bowl XXV). Instead, I have zero. With hockey my father openly admits if I didn't choose the Rangers I would have had to change my own diapers, but with football I had a choice. While my memories of sports date back to the fall of 1994, I didn't start religiously following my teams until 1996.
That year the Jets had the first pick in the NFL Draft. They did the popular thing and took Keyshawn Johnson, passing up players like Ray Lewis, Marvin Harrison, Jonathan Ogden, Brian Dawkins and Terrell Owens. Unsurprisingly, the Jets started the '96 season with an 0-8 record. Their search for imperfection fascinated me, and I was hooked. The first Jets game I watched in its entirety came on Oct. 27, 1996, a day after the Yankees beat the Braves in the World Series (this would become a trend). The Jets defeated the Arizona Cardinals, 31-21. It would be the only game the Jets won that season. In the following April's NFL Draft the Jets traded away the first overall pick and the right to draft future Hall of Famer Orlando Pace, in favor of moving down seven spots and selecting James Farrior, who left the Jets after five seasons to go to Pittsburgh where he has won two Super Bowls.
That was my first 12 months as a Jets fan. I've never looked back.
Until last night. I was really struggling to understand why I chose to support an utterly inept organization. Was the mediocrity of the mid-90's Giants not enough for me? Did I like Rich Kotite's extra large framed glasses? Bubby Brister's shovel pass skills? What was the reason? I concluded there was no real explanation other than that I was a clueless 6-year old sports fan, and that this Jets virus has coursed through my veins so deeply, I must not only accept it, but embrace it.
And what better way to do that on this Monday morning, a day after our intra-city rival won their second Super Bowl in four years, than to list 10 Reasons It's Great to be a Jets Fan Right Now.
10. We Are Championship Virgins
We have no idea what it feels like to win a Super Bowl. The anticipation is often what makes the ecstasy so powerful. Like when you lost your actual virginity, part of what made you feel so damn good about yourself (in addition to realizing it had NO effect on your day-to-day life a second after it was over) was accomplishing this thing you had built up in your mind for your entire life. Yeah the action in itself was great, but if there had been no anticipation of the moment, it wouldn't have been nearly as memorable. So yeah, Giants fans may have won two Super Bowls in the past four years, but their anticipation of The Moment is gone. Ours is only building, and that's only going to make the ecstasy so much more powerful. (Let's just hope the world doesn't end in December. If the Jets start the season 12-2, I'm going to prepare for The Apocalypse. If they start 6-8, I'll know we're OK.)
9. The Uniforms
Even in defeat, the Jets look good. The only uniform combination I'm not a fan of is the green-on-green. It makes them blend in with the field and it looks downright cheesy. The all-whites are their best kit, in my opinion. It's a simple, classy look that boosts their credibility, or at least doesn't damage it.
8. The Core
While this past season was a monumental disappointment, the key players that brought the Jets to two straight AFC Championship Games are young and under contract for years to come. Revis, Mangold, Brick, Harris, and yes, Sanchez (hold that thought) are only going to get better, and once Tannenbaum finishes pleasuring himself for winning four playoff games he'll put the necessary pieces together to help them. When you have the best defensive player in the sport and two of the league's best young offensive lineman, you have a very solid foundation. The Jets are on the right track.
7. The 1996 Jets
No, not because that was the year they hooked me and started laying the groundwork for this occasionally resuscitated blog, but rather it serves as a constant reminder of how bad things were and how much worse they could be.
6. Woody Johnson
While he has not delivered a championship, Johnson (with the help of Bill Parcells) has transformed the organization from a punchline to a major player in the NFL and a team whose goal it is to win the Super Bowl every season. All you can ask of your owner is for him to give you every possible chance to win, and Johnson has never pinched a penny in his quest to help the Jets become champions.
5. MetLife Stadium
Just because playing in "Giants Stadium" was probably the most embarrassing thing a professional sports franchise has ever done.
4. Mark Sanchez
Oh, shutup. He's not that bad. Part of what made me sway from a full-out "I'm rooting for the Patriots tonight" mentality to a "I wouldn't be that annoyed if the Giants won" train of thought were the Patriots fans I texted with during last night's game. On more than one occasion they made a dig at Sanchez, to which I could only respond, "The guy who knocked Brady out of the playoffs at home last year, you mean?" I totally get he's never going to be Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or even Brady, but he's more than capable of winning a Super Bowl. He won four road playoff games in his first two seasons in the league and played well in all six playoff games. No quarterback in NFL history can say that. Fact. And the whole argument that the team carried him and not vice versa was clearly disproved this season. Sanchez played like shit and the team fell apart.
He was 24-years old entering the season. Had experienced unprecedented playoff success, was cashing an eight-figure paycheck, sleeping with New York City's finest models, and worst of all, had Brian Schottenheimer calling his plays! I don't know a single human being who wouldn't become overconfident and slack off at their job under those circumstances. He had a down year, but it's nothing he can't recover from. Eli didn't even sniff a playoff victory until his fourth year, so if the Giants were patient with him, we can give The Sanchize a mulligan. He'll be all right.
3. Darrelle Revis.
Even in the darkest hours of this Jets season, Revis blessed you with an opportunity to watch arguably the greatest cornerback in the sport's history shutdown receiver after receiver (except Stevie Johnson...let's all agree that never happened). It's a joy to watch him play, and he's someone who makes you truly proud to be a Jets fan.
2. Rex Ryan
Rex Ryan is the Jets. For better and for worse. He is our outspoken, filthy-mouth, feet-loving, twinkie-eating, intelligent, insightful, overconfident, funny, charismatic leader. There's not a coach in the NFL I'd rather have leading my team right now. Sure he may have had a down year like Sanchez, but this is a learning process for him, too. We're his first and hopefully last head coaching gig. He has changed the image of the Jets on and off the field, and boosts all of our self-esteems and confidence levels with his bold predictions. While he probably will tone down his bravado in the press because players feel it adds undue pressure, he is right to think his team will win the Super Bowl every season. It's every coach's goal and if you have a talented team you should fully believe in it. And the best thing about Rex, in my opinion, is that he can identify with the fans. He knows how to make us smile, whether it's with his hilarious voicemails or outrageous trash talk or his inability to say the word "not," Rex is a constant source of entertainment, and most importantly, you know he wants to win just as much as we do.
1. Because We Need The Eggs
There was one overlying frustration to last night's Super Bowl for me. The turncoat fans. I was fine with Jets fans who said, "I'm rooting for the Patriots to lose," but the people who supported the Jets the past two seasons only to change their declarations to "MY Big Blue did it! WE are champs!" are absolute frauds. It would even annoy me as a Giants fan to see front-running New York football fans root for the Jets one year and then support my team the next. How can you so passionately root for one team and invest yourself in them so deeply, just to abandon them at the first sign of misfortune? I could never do that. And if you're nodding your head as you read this, I know you could never do it either. But why can't we? So many New Yorkers did it so seamlessly and made it look so easy. Is it our loyalty? Are we too emotionally attached? Are we attracted to hopeless cases? I'd say it's a lot of the first, a good amount of the second, and a little bit of the third. More than any of those things, though, it's because when you love something so irrationally, as we do our Jets, you can never let go, no matter how one-sided the relationship may be.
Take this joke, the final lines of Woody Allen's Annie Hall, and apply it to the Jets.
"...This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, 'Doc, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a chicken.' And, the doctor says, 'Well, why don't you turn him in?' The guy says, 'I would, but I need the eggs.' Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y'know, they're totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and... but, I guess we keep goin' through it because, most of us...need the eggs."
I need the eggs. I need the Jets. And so do you.
It's a great time to be a Jets fan.