Monday, February 08, 2010

Saints Freeze Hell Over

It's hard not to be warmed by last night's Saints victory in the Super Bowl. It was a terrific game. (We almost had that elusive overtime yet again.) Drew Brees is a great player and seemingly an even greater person. The city of New Orleans and the entire gulf region deserve this moment.

But when all the hoopla dies down (in New Orleans, that will be sometime in late summer, perhaps), all I can think of is this: The Jets will never win one of these.

Watching the Saints, here you have a team that had won two playoff games in 42 years before this year. The Jets have won 10 and appeared more often. Both teams have broken hearts and been laughingstocks.

But the Saints rose to the occasion and beat a Colts team the Jets could barely touch. They held the Colts to 7 points after the first quarter. They took advantage of a scaredy-cat timidity with the Colts' decision to run three times after a momentum-shifting goal-line stand at the end of the first half. The Saints favored boldness again with their suprise onside kick to start the third quarter. And for the first time in recent memory, Peyton Manning threw a late interception to lose a game.

Drew Brees cemented himself as an elite quarterback, winning the biggest game of his life without much of a running game. He outplayed the best quarterback I've ever seen play on the game's biggest stage.

One day that might be Mark Sanchez. But if that's the case, he'll probably be 32 years old and playing for the fucking Bills.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Three Sundays

My brother sent me the following quotes in an email today:

1. "Teams that have the top-ranked defense and running game in the NFL almost always enjoy postseason success. Since the NFL merger in 1970, of the seven teams that have led the league in both categories, two won the Super Bowl and three made it to the conference championship game." - Mark Cannizaro, NY Post

2. "This year's Colts are not a powerhouse, despite starting the season 14-0 before tossing in the towel, forfeiting to the Jets and Bills and fastforwarding to playoff preparation. In weeks seven through 10, they beat the 49ers, Texans, Patriots and Ravens by a combined 10 points. They won seven games with fourth-quarter comebacks, the most since the merger. It proves they are resilient. And vulnerable." - Gary Myers, NY Daily News

3. "Manning is the best quarterback in the league, but he is only 8-8 in the playoffs. For all his numbers and terrific seasons, this is his 12th year and he has won just one Super Bowl and been to just one Super Bowl. He has not been nearly as good in the playoffs as he has been in the regular season." - Gary Myers, NY Daily News

4. "The Colts are one dimensional: They were dead last running the ball. Wayne will enter Revis Island and never be heard from again Sunday. Then it's up to the rest of the secondary and the linebackers to control Dallas Clark, Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon. The Colts' leading rusher is Joseph Addai with only 828 yards." - Gary Myers, NY Daily News

5. "One edge for the Jets: The Colts' new home at Lucas Oil Field is not as noisy as the old RCA Dome." - Gary Myers, NY Daily News

6. "Forty-one years ago, another Colts team faced the Jets as a prohibitive double-digit favorite. That was Super Bowl III, the Joe Namath "guarantee," the game that essentially forced the NFL-AFL merger. Forty-one years ago, nobody in Baltimore and almost nobody in America thought the upstart Jets had a chance. Well, they have a chance Sunday. They absolutely have a chance." - Bob Kravitz, Indianapolis Star

He's abandoned a lifetime of hard lessons in Jets history to embrace Rex Ryan's steroidal optimism. While I know the Jets have a chance on Sunday, I'm forever haunted by the previous two AFC Championship games I've seen the Jets play in my life. The column below, published on the eve of the first home game in the doomed Eric Mangini Era, still stands as a solid assessment of my feelings about the green and white.

In three Sundays, the Jets might be playing in the Super Bowl. But this team doesn't strike me as ready for greatness just yet. This whole postseason has been a giddy bonus. So I'm bracing for the third Sunday in my collection of haunting Jets moments when everything almost comes together.

When you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way


I am a Jets fan. In a dark and dangerous world, there are certainly worse things to be. Tom Arnold, for one.

But as another season starts -- teasing only the foolish with a pubescent coaching staff and a win against the feeble Tennessee Titans -- now is as good a time as any to examine the masochistic joys of living under a green and white cloud with a lining black as soot.

I've been going to Jets games since I was 4 years old and mostly interested in the pretzels and ice cream served at Shea Stadium. Those were the days. A jumbo pretzel hardly ever disappointed like the team on the field.

My dad would grease the ticket guy with $1, and I'd sit on his lap (my dad, not the ticket guy). As I grew older, I learned to love the Jets despite their regular disappointments. I imagine this is how Paris Hilton's parents feel about their daughter.

Oh, there were many brilliant, shining moments. I saw the 51-45 aerial shootout against Miami in 1986. The raucous home divisional playoff win against Jacksonville in 1998. The fourth quarter 23-point ""Miracle at the Meadowlands'' comeback in 2000. I rooted for the worthy Wesley Walker, Al Toon, Mickey Shuler, Lance Mehl, Joe Klecko, Freeman McNeil and Wayne Chrebet.

But then I witnessed a potential division lead shot through the heart with a Dan Marino fake spike. Watched as Dennis Byrd lay temporarily paralyzed. Caught Joe Walton picking his nose on TV and listened as Richie Kotite treated his team of losers like gentlemen. Saw Mark Gastineau commit a personal foul against Cleveland in a 1986 divisional playoff game on fourth and 26 that allowed Cleveland to tie the game and win in double overtime. Squirmed through the multiple concussions and premature retirement of our most prolific receiver. Twice. Sat motionless watching the 1982 AFC Championship Game as A.J. Duhe trucked his way through the Miami mud toward the endzone. Twice. In 1998, I saw a 10-point lead crumble just 30 minutes and 30 years from another shot at a Super Bowl. And I saw the best coach we would ever have skip town on his first day to build a dynasty in New England.

In my 27 or so years as a sentient fan, the Jets starting quarterbacks have included the likes of Bubby Brister, Browning Nagle, Glenn Foley, Tony Eason, Rick Mirer, Ray Lucas and Quincy Carter. The only thing these guys should have been starting was a list of alternate career choices. And the Jets choices on draft day are most remembered for the boos they generated among the New York crowd.

It says something about Jets fans that we have embraced ""Gang Green'' as our team nickname. Because there's nothing better to describe the squad than the bacterial decay of body tissue requiring amputation.

But I'll still be out there tomorrow with my dad and brother, my friends and girlfriend, grilling meats and tossing a ball in anticipation of anything to cheer about. There is something hopelessly hopeful and unintentionally cruel about cursing your children with the Jets in a town that demands winners. But I've never blamed my dad. When I was born, Joe Namath still glowed from his league-shaking Super Bowl III victory and wobbled his way through games on crippled knees. Traces of magic could shoot from his arm.

My brother should know better. He brought his 8-month-old daughter to a preseason tailgate outfitted in a pink Jets shirt and sucking on a Jets pacifier. The looming tragedy of this young life made me want to call Child Protective Services.

Luckily she's way too young at the moment to comprehend complex shapes and actions, much less the certain disaster of another Jets season. So until she's sitting on her dad's lap in the new Meadowlands stadium, I'm glad she's clueless and happy sucking on that pacifier.

There's just too much of that kind of thing on the field.

We already work around the clock!

As a life-long sad-sack Jets fan, I can hardly contain my conflicted emotions over this coming Sunday's AFC Championship Game.

I mean, I've been down this road before with what I at least perceived to be better teams -- in 1982 and 1998. Anything can happen, I suppose. But in the NFL playoffs, the better team usually wins. The Jets might have been better than the Bengals. We've got a great defense, but I think overall, the Jets only played better than a bumbling Chargers team. And they'll need to do everything right and catch similar breaks to beat the Colts.

But whatever happens, however horribly it unfolds, I think we can all agree on this: After this weekend, CBS MUST stop showing the commercials for that fucking pathetic Harrison Ford-Brendan Frasier flick. Right? Pretty please?