It’s Sunday night after week 17 of the NFL season, and for us Jets fans, it’s another one where we came up short, in typical heartbreaking Jets fashion. I keep staring into space wondering “what if?” We watched a team with a rookie Head Coach, a Rookie General Manager, a journeyman Quarterback and some new and old faces put together one of the most magical runs in team history. It was a team you couldn’t not love.Finally, a team with structure, a head coach who’s calm demeanor helped them weather the storm of losing 4 of 5 in the middle of the season and an offense that actually was competent. We had Wide Receivers who mirrored the great combination of Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet in 1998. The Jets hadn’t had a winning streak of five games since 2010, ironically the same season they made the playoffs. Better yet, this winning streak came in December when everyone counted the Jets out. They fought, they battled, they left it all out there. Take a punch in the gut? Get right back up. That was the mentality of the 2015 New York Jets. The season was ours; it really was. We beat New England; Bill Belichick finally gave us a gift; Ryan Mallet and the Ravens miraculously beat the Steelers. The Bills were banged up; we were getting contributions from everyone on the depth chart. The Playoff spot is ours, just go grab it.
Instead of being able to celebrate the first playoff appearance in five years, we sit and ponder again what would have been? What if Bullock makes his field goal? What if Coach Bowles used his timeouts properly? What if Sheldon Richardson didn’t bite on the hard count? What if Kenbrell Thompkins caught the ball? What if, what if, what if. After the loss to Houston on November 22, It seemed like we were being treated to a season that would require us to ask the “what if” even though “what if” was defied at every point from then until today.
1993 vs. Houston, 1997 vs. Detroit; 1998 AFC Championship vs. Denver; 2000 vs. Baltimore; 2004 Divisional Round vs. Pittsburgh; 2008 collapse with Brett Favre; 2009 AFC Championship vs. Indianapolis; 2010 AFC Championship vs. Pittsburgh. It’s the life of a Jets fan spanning the last 20+ years. Be it bad play-calling, epic collapses, missed field goals, each of those losses has defined Jets football and the agony of the fans who love the Jets so much.
Haven’t us Jets fans realized that “Same Old Jets” is a real thing? Most of us probably say yes inside, yet we still make it our business to watch every game. It’s all because of the beauty of hope. Maybe, just maybe this is the game when “Same Old Jets” gets thrown out the door, right in the face of the man who epitomized the very essence of the phrase during his tenure in as HC of the New York Jets. Instead, even with Rex on the other side of the field, the Jets managed to play the game as if he was the one calling their plays from the sideline. Missed tackles, stupid penalties, and poor clock management; a three-hour game just seemed like a replay of the Rex’s tenure as Jets Head Coach.
We all love sports even though it provides us with meaningless “heartbreak.” Ask any Jets fan on the street if they were “confident” going into today’s game. Most would be honest enough to say no, but deep down inside many fans had that big sense of hope so they would say they are optimistically confident. Hey, why not? Everything had gone our way until now. The thrill of winning just outweighs the agony of defeat when those occasions come. We’ve seen the losses; we know how they happen. It’s the same mistakes and lack of discipline every time. “Clutch” is just not a word in the Jets dictionary. Yet we constantly tell ourselves, this time is going to be different; this time we are going to get the job done. Alas, January is here and instead of focusing on next week’s opponent, our focus is on who’s contract need to be restructured? Will Mo Wilkerson recover well? What is the strategy going into the draft?Sports just brings out the beauty of hope that lies within us. The Proof: We’ll do this all over again next year. We could be in this exact position 52 weeks from now-win and we’re in-, and will any of us make other plans for the day because we of what we saw today? No way! Because every game and every opportunity comes with the hope that this time we will break the curse, rejoice, and scream loud an proud J-E-T- S Jets! Jets! Jets! The greatest gift that sports provides us is hope. Maybe next year, Jets fans. Maybe next year. All we can do is hope.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com