Cool Your Jets

I think all major market sports teams have a fanatic supporter base.  That's why they're called 'fans' after all. And their moods can be extreme - almost bipolar. Fans can go from ecstatic one week to deflated the next.

Newcastle United supporters know about "Geordie Optimism."  We Americans know about the undying loyalty of Red Sox and Green Bay Packers fans.  We know abut the near-cult followings of the Forty-Niners, Raiders, Bruins, Broncos, and Redskins (Aren't Raiders fans the craziest of them all?).

And then there are the Jets.  Even in a major market that includes the chest-pounding Yankees, the Wall Street-funded Giants, and the ever popular (no matter how awful) Knicks, the Jets have a special place for exuberant, illogical, unfounded optimism.  It is a hyper optimism that defies history (one Super Bowl appearance and victory) and an all too predictable track record.

Interesting how the franchises I think of when I think 'cult followings' comprise of mainly NFL teams.  The American professional sports league with the fewest teams has the most crazy fans.  Part of that is tailgate culture.  Another part of that is the weather.  American Football is a fall sport.  Perhaps being out in the cold makes sports spectators more likely to dress up in costumes and act a little more wild. Just a little theory I have.  Another theory is that when you only have eight home games each year, you make the most of them. Too bad American fans haven't been crazy enough to pen songs for their team and favorite players, like English football supporters.

While other NFL fan bases can be as crazy and as fanatic as Jets supporters, the Jets have this perpetual expectation of returning to the Super Bowl, when no such expectation should exist.  Call it Jets pride, or Jets optimism. But instead of sympathizing with them, they just irritate me. And the New York media, with its bipolar, overhyped coverage, only feeds the delusional dreams of Jets supporters.

I know about curses. I have learned that they are not curses at all, they are simply self-sustaining cycles of disappointing seasons. Call it fate. I can tell when the Sports Gods have doomed a team never to win another championship. The Knicks are one such team. The Jets are another. The Chicago Cubs are another. And the San Francisco Giants, Raiders, Rangers, and Bruins are getting dangerously close to that status as well.

One Super Bowl, New Jersey.  That's all they are going to get.  It's not something to gloat about.  It's just the way it will remain.  What I do gloat about is how the New Jersey Jets created Tom Brady.  That's not a myth. It actually happened one autumn day in 2001.  Mo Lewis of the Jets collapsed Drew Bledsoe's lung and the rest was NFL history.

Yes, I am a Red Sox fan, and I know the same argument could be used against us - that we are perpetual, unrealistic dreamers. But there are differences. The Red Sox still made it to the World Series five times in their 86 years without a championship. The Red Sox still had MVPs, Cy Young winners, dream seasons, and Division banners. Red Sox fans, aside from the college students who are obnoxious and drink too much (does Fenway still allow them to buy four beers at a time?), are a mature, attentive crowd. They know baseball better than the average fan. They stay to watch the whole game, win or lose.  They have been filling Fenway to capacity since 1967. And they don't dress up in costumes (hard hats), pretend to be blue collar, or chant the letters that comprise the team's name. In other words, they are not so much in your face as Jets fans are.

The Red Sox have six League championships.  The Jets have one.  I could be proven incorrect one day, but I think that 1969 Super Bowl is the first and last championship for this franchise based in the swamps of northeast New Jersey. 

Interesting fact about Super Bowl III.  Not only was it at the legendary Orange Bowl in Little Havana, but the NBC announcer for the television broadcast was none other than the legendary Red Sox announcer, Curt Gowdy.  I love funny little coincidences like that.