August 4, 2014 by NowhereButPop
Within the confines of both the entire NFL, and all New York City based sports teams, there is no franchise as impotent as the New York Jets. Since Woody Johnson has owned the team, the Jets seem more interested with making the back page of the New York Post than actually fielding a competitive team. They are more about spectacle than show time. How else can you explain the Tim Tebow signing, or the Michael Vick signing, or the Plaxico Buress signing? But despite all the pitfalls and failures of the Jets, the Jets still like to stick out their chests and act like they’ve won 27 Superbowls. What’s worse is that this attitude trickles down to their fans. And that’s what I don’t understand.
The entire purpose of this article is to try and understand why, despite 40 years of lifelessness, the Jets still like to massage their own egos. Before I go any further, you have to understand something about me, I’m Greek which means I hold grudges, I’m a Giants fan surrounded by Jets fans who used to bully me, and I’m an elitist when it comes to sports. What this all means is that I have no sympathy to lend the Jets. Growing up I was the only Giants fan in the neighborhood, and during my childhood the Giants sucked, while the Jets weren’t as bad as everyone is accustomed to them being, so even though I never really cared about football, I would have to hear about how much the Giants sucked and how this year (whatever year it was) was the Jets year to finally win the Superbowl. As a bullied and disillusioned 10 year old, it was very aggravating to hear 15 other kids scream out “J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS” at the top of their lungs, for 45 minutes every day, for 16 consecutive weeks. I have never understood this obsessive fandom that the Jets warrant.
It’s not even a matter that the Jets aren’t good, it’s that it just seems like they don’t even try to play well. It goes beyond rooting for a team even though they aren’t winning. The Mets haven’t been good for ten years, they still have fans, but their fans are actually and acutely aware that their team sucks. There are no self-delusions or false pretenses with Mets fans; they know their team is robbed of competent ownership and accepts that they aren’t in a position to win. I’ve never met a rational Jets fan, someone who acknowledges the futilities of the franchise. Even their crosstown rivals, the Giants, went through a period of time when their own fans revolted against their putrid play. During a Monday Night Football game at Giants Stadium in 1979, a fan bought an air banner that read “15 years of lousy football…we’ve had enough”. That’s how bad the Giants were, and fed up their fans were with them, that they had to vocalize their dissent. Jets fans just go along believing whatever it is that Rex Ryan is selling them.
I don’t know what the Jets have done to warrant this blind devotion to them; what makes them so worthy of this extreme adulation that every fan has for them? Why does Geno Smith say that he’ll be a top five QB by the end of the season, when last year he was ranked the worst QB in the league? Why does Dee Milliner say that he’s the best cornerback in the league, when he’s only played one year, and Richard Sherman hasn’t yet retired? And why does Rex Ryan condone this bravado and allow his players to paint targets on their backs? It didn’t work with Mark Sanchez, when they went 2-1 in the playoffs in consecutive years, these cheap ego boosts aren’t gonna work now. When James Dolan said that he expected the Knicks to win the championship this past year, every Knicks fan told him to shut up, I don’t know why Jets fans aren’t wondering why Rex hasn’t learned his lesson about running his mouth.
The entire history of the Jets is rolled up in Superbowl III, and the legendary guarantee of Joe Namath against the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. That’s all the Jets have. In the 45 years since their sole Superbowl victory, they’ve only made the playoffs 13 times and lost in the conference finals four times. They’ve only won 10 or more games eight times, and in 1996 they went 1-15. When people laud the Jets for making it to consecutive AFC championship games, all that really means is that they didn’t even make it to the Superbowl two years in a row. As a franchise the history of the Jets is nowhere near as illustrious as people would have you believe, nor does their present bring any sign of promise. All they have to hang on to is that 1969 championship season; they don’t even have a year that was supposed to be the year, where they were robbed of an inevitable championship. Not only do they have one championship, they’ve only been to one Superbowl, the exact same amount of appearances as the Bucs, and Falcons, and one less appearance than the Bengals.
When the Jets try and do things like cover up the Giants Superbowl banners, or try and fool the Patriots into thinking that they are rivals, it just makes people realize the foolhardy nature of the New York Jets. Nothing in their past or present justifies the effervescent and eternally blind bravado that the Jets cultivate for themselves and their fan base. All you need to know is that the difference between the Jets and the rest of the 31 teams in the NFL is that the Jets get excited about being eliminated from the playoffs after the wild card round, while the rest of the NFL gets excited about winning the Superbowl.
Maybe I’m being bitter and taking out my frustration at being bullied on the Jets, a symbol that I used to distinguished, myself from those who picked on me. Maybe I’ve never truly reconciled that part of my past, and so to this day not only do I see the Jets as a symbol of futility, but also as a universal symbol of childhood torment, that I haven’t really outgrown yet. Fuck, I really do love being my own Freud. But, if any NFL franchise was in need of Viagra it’d be the Jets, but in all honesty it would probably just go to their heads instead.