I’ve been a Jets fan my entire life. They are the only team that I’ve rooted for without switching allegiances. I liked the Braves when the Yankees were terrible, cheered for Michael Jordan before Marc Cuban traded Robert “Tractor” Traylor for a skinny kid from Germany named Dirk Nowitzki, and liked the Blackhawks before Messier bought the Cup back to Gotham. I’ve been a fan of teams that win, but the Jets have been the lovable losers of my fandom. That is, until Bill Parcells took that short drive down I-95, brought Curtis Martin with him, and changed the game around here. 12-4 and a Super Bowl were expected during those Parcells years until Testaverde tore his ACL. Sadly, the Parcells era ended the day Bill Belichick quit on becoming the HC of the NYJ. I was hurt, sure, but the Yankees started winning in ’96, ’98 brought the Jets on the brink of the Super Bowl, and Jordan pushed off of Byron Russell to give the Bulls a sixth title. My other teams numbed me from Jets disappointment.
Then, we got Herm, had Al Groh, and then stole Mangini from the Patriots all while managing a better regular season record than the boys in Blue that we shared a building with. We won more in the playoffs too, until the Giants got Eli and became the team that mattered for most of the last six seasons. I say most because we had Favre steal one from Belichick up in Foxborough, we had the 10-6 record in Mangini’s first year, we were 8-3 and the Giants were 11-1, and it seemed like that matchup no one outside of the tri-state area wanted to see was going to happen: Jets vs Giants in the Super Bowl. It wasn’t meant to be, but the Yanks would win a title in 09, the Mavs would continue to ball, and the Rangers actually played very well. I was numb again.
Then, the Fat Man Rex Ryan showed up with pomp and circumstance and put the world on notice that the New York Jets were relevant. He helped create Revis Island and had Trader Mike trade up for the kid from USC Mark Sanchez. Sanchez was going to be the kid that made the Jets relevant for years to come. 20 regular season victories coupled with 4 playoff victories in his first two seasons, plus a career 94.3 QBR in the playoffs, was our reward for Testaverde’s ACL, Marino’s fake spike, Brady replacing Bledsoe after Mo Lewis blasted him. We finally had the QB that would take over from Broadway Joe and become Manhattan Mark. The kid had it all, looks, talent, and a penchant for saving his best ball for when it mattered most. Drives against Houston, Cleveland, San Diego, Indianapolis (just to name a few) proved that the kid could win in this league. Sure, he had an elite defense but only two teams in 13 years have won titles with subpar QB play (Baltimore in 00 and Pittsburgh in 05). Mark didn’t play subpar football in the playoffs. The Yankees got old, the Mavs blew up a championship team, the Rangers didn’t make the playoffs, and all I have left is the Jets.
So, this is how it ends; with Mark Sanchez being placed on short term IR because he was the only person in Florham Park who believes he won the QB competition. Sanchez’s shoulder may heal this year, but the last image we will have of the kid that was supposed to lead the Jets is him on the floor holding his ribs. Instead of going out professionally, Mark decides to come out and say that he won the QB competition… with his quote to Rich Eisen, Mark essentially tried to do to Geno what no one ever had the nerve to do to him: call him out and put a name in front of it. This wasn’t Mark being a good teammate to the rookie, like Bart Scott, Kris Jenkins, Calvin Pace and so many others were to him. This was Mark looking out for Mark and sounding very much like Alex Rodriguez has when battling the Yankees front office. Now, Mark goes on IR and I thought it’d be for the year, but in 8 weeks the Jets could be 1-8 or they will most likely be 5-4 because they play defense and because Geno seems to get it. Mark will have to return to a locker room that he tried to divide. This is the end of the Mark Sanchez era, one that began with thunderous applause, but ultimately going out with a whimper.