By Jeff Capellini, CBSNewYork/WFAN.com
NEW YORK (WFAN) — As far as many Jets fans are concerned, the world came to an end the second Lawrence Tynes’ overtime field goal zipped through the uprights at Candlestick Park.
The Giants’ win over the 49ers in the NFC title game, coupled with the Lee Evans-Billy Cundiff fiasco up in Foxborough earlier in the day, paved the way for a Super Bowl rematch that has left a good percentage of the Tri-State Area and all of New England just giddy.
Everyone seems to be enjoying the party, except, of course … yup, you got it.
To the irrational Jets fan these are once again trying times. The drought is now at 43 years and counting. And just to add insult to injury, either the team they loathe the most or the one that truly runs things up in this piece will be champions again inside of a week.
Many view what transpired on conference championship Sunday as yet another example of God giving them the shaft or forces of nature once again conspiring to keep the Jets down. So what you’ve heard on the radio or read on the Internet over the last eight or nine days has been ceaseless complaining, whining and histrionics. The Jets fan has launched a counter offensive against humanity, while hunkered down in his or her man cave, armed only with a laptop or a cell phone.
But from where I’m sitting, somebody needs to man up already.
I’m not speaking to everyone, obviously. There are many fans who turned the page on 2011 the second the Jets spit the bit in Miami or minutes later when the Titans did what they needed to do in Houston. But there are plenty of people out there who immediately resorted to the completely unjustified “Same Old Jets” lamenting of what could have been. They then turned up the volume on “woe is me,” or “us,” as the case may be, when the Giants and Patriots embarked and then made good on their runs toward Feb. 5.
It was rather pathetic to read the constant crying on sites like Twitter about how so many people would be passing on watching the Super Bowl in favor of something else, as if there’s actually anything of note to view on Super Sunday besides the big game. Trust me, your friends over at the NHL and NBA are not going to help you out on this one.
Furthermore, last I checked it hasn’t snowed all that much, people. There’s nothing to shovel. And if chopping wood is your thing, well, good luck with that, especially at 6:45 p.m. when it’s pitch black outside.
Face it, you’re watching the game.
I get that whining and bitching is part of a fan’s rite of passage. We all, from time to time, lose our minds and act like children when things don’t go our way, but many Jets fans take this immature approach to an often embarrassing extreme. They become the Picassos of self pity, painting themselves on a canvas hiding under rocks like Cubs fans, almost relishing joyously in the fact that they never get over that hump, like losing or failing is suddenly this badge of honor, one that separates them from everyone else and is therefore worth applauding as a sign of serious loyalty and conviction.
It’s not. It’s weakness.
I understand the frustration that goes with being a fan of the Jets as well as anyone, and that includes the old-timers that bought tickets at Shea back in the day when they were cast off by the aristocratic fan base across town. I’ve watched the follies that have replaced seasons of promise for 34 years. I’ve been abused and berated in a manner that a lesser man would have done something about long ago.
But, really, what can you do? As much as the Jets fan wants to cry and act like his or her team just finished 2-14 and has no hope going forward, it’s just not the case. The truth is the Jets fan has actually had it pretty good over the last 15 years. If you think otherwise, just look at the facts:
* Overall record: 128-112 (.533 winning percentage)
* Playoff record: 8-7
* 3 AFC Championship game appearances
* 3, I repeat, 3 losing seasons
The last statistic is key because although the idea is to end the championship drought that dates to Joe Willie and his white shoes, the Jets have proven to be a highly competitive franchise in a league that is rife with parity and seemingly gets stronger from top to bottom every single season.
The Jets have basically been in at least the playoff conversation 80 percent of the time since 1997. So, excuse me if I don’t go walking into traffic following an 8-8 season, especially when it appears that the core of what has made the Jets successful during the Rex Ryan regime will remain in tact for the foreseeable future.
Yeah, I understand what the expectations were coming into 2011. If you didn’t you were completely clueless, but I’m of the belief that all powerhouse teams take steps back from time to time. The team’s fall from grace this season wasn’t pulled off in typical Jets fashion. You didn’t see the lack of talent that plagued the franchise for much of the the 1970s, a good portion of the ’80s and the majority of the ’90s.
The truth is the Jets were their own worst enemy in 2011, as has been well documented in the weeks since the disaster in Philadelphia that led to the eventual December collapse that sent them home to clean out their lockers.
But as we speak, steps are being taken to fix the problems, both player personnel- and coaching-wise, to get the Jets back up on the horse next season. I honestly expect them to tweak what needs to be tweaked, to give enigmatic quarterback Mark Sanchez a complete makeover and to finally transform this very good defense from a less scheming operation into more of a straight-up dominant and in-your-face operation, as has been teased since the start of 2009.
Now, please understand, I’m not saying the Jets are winning the Super Bowl next season. I, unlike their coach, often really think things through before I open my yap, but Ryan, himself, seems to understand the error of his ways, and while I wouldn’t expect him to be mute next season, he will channel the bravado of prediction into more of a rallying cry to instill confidence, as I assume was his initial intention before it went off the rails and became more important than the team’s actual problems on the field.
My biggest problem with the fan base is this constant lamenting of what other teams do. Like it really matters. The reality is it should make no difference in the grand scheme of things who wins the Super Bowl if it’s not the Jets. You should just tip your cap to the team that does and move on.
For some, worrying about the Giants hoisting another Lombardi Trophy is probably because you took your cue from Rex and shot your mouth off this season. The truth is Eli Manning winning his second ring will have no bearing on whether Sanchez will or will not read a defense going forward.
The Jets fan, like the Mets fan, has this ridiculous inferiority complex when it comes to “status.” I’ll never understand it. I don’t live in Nebraska and watch the Jets on satellite every weekend. I live in Westchester County, the aristocracy to end all aristocracies. Giants fans are everywhere, and in overwhelming numbers. You just have to deal with it, mostly by doing the only thing you’re really equipped to do.
And that’s worrying about your own team.
If Tom Brady gets his fourth ring, will that in any way alter the Jets’ inability to sack the quarterback? Will it suddenly turn their passing game into this vertical force? Will it help them successfully set up a screen pass more than once a month? Will it be the central preoccupation in their war room on draft day as they look to solidify their linebacking corps and safety positions?
No. The only thing either the Giants or the Patriots winning another title would possibly do is act as more of a motivational tool and perhaps hasten the Jets’ belief that someone like Peyton Manning could be the answer, even though it now appears as if that pipe dream will never come to be. That is if you believe that which has been reported of late.
Jets fans need to stop envying everyone else, quit playing the loveable loser card publicly and cut out this nonsense of turning on their team on a dime at the first sign of adversity. You combine those three failures and it goes way beyond what any group of typical fans of any professional sports franchise does on a daily, weekly or yearly basis.
Sure, we can laugh about losing or falling short or getting our hearts ripped out and we can joke around about documentaries that focus on the often-painstaking process of what it takes to to be a fan of this franchise, but it should never be more than in passing and should never become the norm. The Jets are the only ones who can end their championship futility. Another team, be it your most hated rival or the big brother across town, once again ruling the roost is something to be quietly applauded as a sign of respect. You don’t have to like it, but crying about it? Give me a break.
The bottom line is, don’t write checks the Jets can’t cash. Hold them accountable. Demand more of them.
But quit acting like a have-not, because you have plenty.
Read more columns by Jeff Capellini
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