By Jason Keidel
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God bless Jets fans. Their dreams are as limited, to paraphrase Rod Serling, as their imaginations. They’ve developed this subconscious membrane that shields them from reality. It’s a defense mechanism, no doubt, to protect you from the decades of decay since Joe Namath.

But Jets fans – particularly those hybrid, Shea Stadium masochists who worship the Mets, as well – are to be respected. There’s no front running among you. All you’ve known is losing and yet you persist. From the Mud Bowl to Gastineau to 10-0 at halftime in Denver, your Gang Green knows how to snatch gaffe from glory.

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But you’re on the quick curve to prominence. If only you could get…

Braylon Edwards, that shutdown corner from Oakland whose name we can’t pronounce, David Harris, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Jared Allen, Jake Long, Adrian Peterson, and Chris Johnson…

Have I missed anyone?

I’d say Vince Lombardi, but you’ve convinced yourself that Rex Ryan is better. I can see you now, walking to work with the “Rocky” theme song blaring from your headphones. This is your year. Heck, Michael Irvin called it, telling Joe and Evan that if the Jets get Darrelle a roommate on Revis Island, book tickets to Indianapolis now (the location of the Super Bowl in 2012). Who knows better than The Playmaker?

Honestly, my Facebook text box is being lit-up by frothing Jets fans whose arms are plunged elbow-deep into the treasure chest of free agents on the market. My good friend Alex – bless him, too – is texting me from Norway (where he’s currently on vacation), offering algorithms that would make John Nash blush. “Yo, Jay, if we cut this guy and extend that guy and restructure the other guy, then we could sign…”

If this is what Jets fans are like after losing in the AFC title game two years in a row, imagine the insanity that would ensue after a Super Bowl.

There you are, crouching in your cubicle, playing salary-cap king for a week, imploring Mike Tannenbaum to keep everyone, when anyone with a pulse knows you can’t.

But you just signed your best player, Santontio Holmes, a buck in rut with a chip on his shoulder and a history of flexing in big games. You had to sign him, even if it means losing his partner at wide receiver, Braylon Edwards, who will want Holmes money but isn’t nearly as good. Combined, the two have more baggage than Newark Airport, but it says here that Holmes will behave. And if you must choose between two studs with unseemly pasts, take the better player, the one who doesn’t drop the football like it’s lathered in lava.

In keeping with his front-office brilliance (Vernon Gholston aside), Tannenbaum knew this, and if he can pay his franchise-tagged linebacker (David Harris) and still steal Nnamdi Asomugha, you’ve got nothing to gripe about, even if you lose Edwards. But Santonio had to be signed first. He’s indispensable.

You can’t just saunter into a Men’s Warehouse and pluck a Super Bowl MVP off the rack, where that dude with the deep voice promises you’ll like the way you look – he guarantees it!

No, you sign your stud receiver at (almost) any cost, avoiding the conga line of cash-carrying GMs who would more than welcome No. 10. Not to mention the symphonic symmetry he has with his ascending quarterback, Mark Sanchez, whom you’ve cleverly coined, “Sanchise.” By the way, you’ll have to pay that dude, too, and No. 6 won’t be cheap. Forget when his contract expires, Mark’s hand will be out next year.

Sure, I’m moved by the fact that Holmes led my cherished Steelers to a Super Bowl and the fact that you fleeced my beloved black & gold for him, giving up little more than a MetroCard and two tickets to Jersey Boys. It takes a Steelers fan to realize just how good the guy is, though he won the Jets three or four games on his own last year.

If this time of free agency tumult is portentous, it promises to be an entertaining NFL season. And, as always, the Jets will be the ringleaders of the league circus.

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Does Santonio hold the key to New York’s Super Bowl shot? Join the conversation with Keidel below…

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