By Jason Keidel
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So let’s get this straight…
Your Jets, who made it to the AFC title game the last two years – and were leading one at halftime – are now washed-up because you didn’t sign a cornerback who played in neither game?
You’ve got a young coach and quarterback on the brink of brilliance, just re-signed your best player (Santonio Holmes), have an owner with suitcases of cash and a GM who knows how to spend it, and you’re crying over a pint at your local pub?
You’ve got two of my beloved Steelers at wideout (you’re welcome), both with chips on their bulging shoulders, and you may retain Antonio Cromarti. Yes, Cromartie comes with the baggage of a nine-child brood (with eight women in six states) and an allergy to tackling (remember his “Ole!” to Shonn Green back in San Diego?), but when motivated, he’s an All-Pro cover guy.
At least you don’t have to worry about pronouncing Nnamdi’s name, an amalgam of consonants that make the Klitschko brothers blush. I offered my condolences to my phalanx of friends, Jets fans who are most despondent over the news that Philadelphia pulled of the improbable exacta of stealing two blue-chip athletes from New York in nine months (Cliff Lee being the first). But it’s time – forgive the nauseating cliché – to turn that frown upside down. There are a ton of teams, from Detroit to Dallas, who would love to have your problems.
This is that demented detachment from reality I described in my last column. The Jets and their fans get too high and too low. There should be no suicide watches when your beloved Gang Green fails to land a long-shot player. Not to sound too Pollyannaish, but the money meant for him can now be used for two players, or more.
Yes, football, like all team sports, is fueled by celebrity, by brand-name stars who bring buns to the seats and eyes upon the screen. But it’s also about depth. What if you signed Nnamdi now and he shreds his knee next week? That’s $12 million down the drain with no cash to procure his replacement. Of course, that’s a risk you were willing to take, but you’ve already got a shutdown corner and the only time I’ve ever seen two Hall of Fame players in the same secondary were with the old Oakland raiders, led by Lester Hayes and Michael Haynes. Not even my beloved, dynastic Steelers of the 1970s had more than one Mel Blount. (Anyone remember Ron Johnson?)
Besides, in Sanchez and Santonio you’ve got a good five years of foam fingers and Super Bowl dreams. And anything from Burress is a bonus. He should not have spent 20 minutes in prison, much less 20 months. And anyone who compares Plaxico to Michael Vick should bolt to the back corner of the classroom, dunce cap strapped to your dome.
It hurts because you penned Nnamdi into the lineup before he signed. And that’s the risk you take with twisted optimism. But the Jets are still damn good and are every bit the Super Bowl contenders they were last week. All you did was lose the label of chalk, the favorite to play in Indianapolis in February. So what?
Being a Jets fan is a de facto deal with the Devil, an implicit agreement to sell your soul if your perennial losers go against their nature and win the Super Bowl. You can only replay the Namath trot out of the Orange Bowl, index finger waving toward the South Florida stars, so many times. You need a Lombardi Trophy of your own, and the paradoxical handle of “lovable losers” doesn’t float in the Hudson River.
This is your time, with or without Nnamdi Asomugha. Don’t fret the Patriots’ penchant for jamming to the oldies (Ochocinco & Haynesworth) because you mowed them on their lawn when they were at full health and double-digit favorites. No one scares you now, except yourself and your inflated, inexhaustible expectations. Relax. You got this. Take this from a Steelers fan, who knows something about winning and knows a winner when he sees one.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com
Jets fans, are you satisfied with the free agency signings?