Every professional team I root for – the Yankees and perpetual knife-twisters the Rangers, Knicks and Jets – has a history that I can only read about. No matter how much research I do, even if I could name off the top of my head who played on the third line for the Rangers in 1974, or who led the Knicks in assists in 1983, it’s all just history – like studying the Civil War in high school. But to have lived through the entire existence of something is to truly understand it.
The only reason I’m a New York Jets fan is because of my father. My brother and I were lucky enough to have Jets season tickets in our family dating way, way back before we were born, and our father has been taking us to games for the past 20 or so years. And in my two-plus decades living and dying with the Jets, I think I’ve seen it all. But of course, it’s physically impossible for me to have seen it all, because the Jets have been in existence longer than I have. They have not, however, been in existence since before my father was born. He, and others of his generation, have indeed seen it all.
And those who haven’t missed a single beat have a different perspective than those of my generation. I remember when I was in college the day the Jets hired Rex Ryan, I received a text from my father that read, “Jets hire Rex Ryan. 8-8, 9-7, 6-10, 4-12, bye-bye”. It wasn’t that he knew all about Rex Ryan and was predicting he’d been a failure. He certainly wasn’t hoping he was right (as you’ll see below). But looking back, my father wasn’t that far off. Make no mistake – with a new GM in town any day now, if the Jets go 4-12 in 2013, Rex Ryan will be fired, and my father would have essentially called it four years earlier. He’s just seen this game before, countless times.
In a way, it’s just like raising a child – if you’ve been there every single step of the way, you just understand them better than anyone else.
Of course, one thing that has been the same since the Jets were in existence has been the media’s coverage of the city’s black sheep of football. So, I’ll step aside and give the floor to my father, Frank:
There’s an old game being played in the media these days, but with a brand new intensity. The game is called “Turn On the Jets”. No, not turn on as in “tune in to” or “rev up”, but as in “put down” or “mock”. Who in the organization has set off this new round of put downs? None other than Rex Ryan. As someone whose first game was at the Polo Grounds in 1962 when the team was still the New York Titans, let me explain.
Back then, the NFL ruled the world. Then along came the upstart AFL and along with them a brash new quarterback named Joe Namath. What Joe and the Jets did was predict they would knock off the mighty, 24-point favored Baltimore Colts and then went out and did it! With that, they also knocked the Giants, and the NFL, off the back pages of the newspapers. How dare they! For this the organization has never been forgiven, especially by many in the New York media. You see, this was, and will always be to many, a Giants town.
Since Super Bowl III, Jets fans have seen the birth of the “Same old Jets” tag, and the embarrassment of playing in those same Giants’ stadium for 30 years. And we have lived with a barrage of put downs in the media that intensifies or ebbs year-to-year. Right now we are in a tsunami of beat downs on the team. Why? Well you see, Rex broke the cardinal rule. He came along and dared to say positive things about the Jets. He even tried to push the Giants off the back page. Oh Rex, how dare you?
When the Jets went to two conference championship games in his first two years, nothing much could be said by the media. But now that the team is down, it’s open season. Sure, Rex has brought on some of this himself. But the intensity of the criticism is way out of line with reality. The organization has been called a “sewer”. It’s been said they can’t give away the GM job. Really? Oh and there’s the tattoo. Think of it, can you imagine anyone, anywhere in the New York media treating the Giants or Tom Coughlin that way? Be honest now.
The facts is things are not as bad as the pundits say they are. Rex can coach. There are some good young players on the roster. There are some real problems for sure, but they’re not insurmountable. But you see folks, it’s the Jets so anything goes! Roll out the put downs. Same Old Media.
And now, onto the picks for this weekend’s Championship games:
Atlanta (+4) vs. San Francisco – As my dad would say “The WORLD has the 49ers”. Meaning, nobody is giving the Falcons any credit, and everyone seems to think this is going to be a laugher in the 49ers’ favor. I’ll take my chances with a home dog in the NFC Title game.
Ravens (+8) at Patriots – Outright, I’m picking the Patriots, but I think it will be very close, similar to last year’s game. The more important betting line is the Over/Under on snaps of this game I will watch, given that this is head-to-head with the Rangers’ home opener against the Penguins and pits two of my most despised sports franchises in the world. Let’s set it at 14.5 (hint: take the under).
Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week – Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey! Rangers +105 at Bruins tomorrow night. Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey!