Green Lantern: Love ‘Em Or Hate ‘Em, Jets Are Now Among Most Polarizing Figures In Sports

From Sea To Shining Sea -- And Indianapolis In Between -- They Are A Story

By Jeff Capellini,

NEW YORK (WFAN) — The Jets may have crashed and burned spectacularly in 2011, but they are somehow, someway still considered a very relative talking point, basically throughout every gear of the machine that drives sports media.

And I’m not just referring to what you see on this website, hear on local radio or take in while engaging fans of the franchise on the Internet.

Though the Jets failed miserably to come together as one this season, they are treated as one in the press, meaning an awful lot of good citizens have been getting lumped in with a few bad apples. This has allowed the media to classify the Jets as a singular entity regardless if guilt should really lie with just a few individuals, and has made them as polarizing a force as the elite wrongdoers — names like Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez and LeBron James.

The Jets are now grouped in with Tiger, A-Rod and “King James” regardless if none of their players have been hit with accusations of infidelity on a massive scale, taking performance enhancers and acting indifferent or deciding a major sports network is the perfect place to flaunt your millions while kicking your former team and fan base to the curb.

Like it or not, the Jets are now that guy. In fact, the Jets seem to become a national story just by simply someone of note or pull saying “Jets” in front of a camera. And when and where this takes place makes little difference.

They have been a major topic of discussion this week at the Super Bowl media gatherings in Indianapolis — and it’s had very little to do with the team’s possible pursuit of Peyton Manning this offseason.

What amazes me is how an 8-8 football team that at times couldn’t get out of its own way this  season has garnered as much attention as it has over the last two weeks, time that should be reserved for nothing but discussion of how Eli Manning or Tom Brady will lead their respective teams to victory.

Think about it: the Giants and Patriots are about to do battle for the biggest prize there is and their players are literally spending big chunks of their time answering questions about Rex Ryan, Plaxico Burress, Darrelle Revis and Mark Sanchez, among others.

It’s ridiculous for sure, but at the same time extremely calculated.

Back in 2005, when I got into online news media, I learned the two most important words in Internet traffic.

“Britney Spears.”

Yes, if you attached the pop diva’s name to the keywords section of any story, that story, upon publication, would become one of your most viewed stories on any given day due to the beauty of search engines. Obviously, those news producers who did just that out of context were quickly captured by their organization’s police department and arraigned on fraud charges, because linking Spears to stories on the economy, politics, food and crime, to name a few, was, as they say, cheating or stuffing the ballot box for your site’s own benefit.

Well, if you fast forward to 2011, the Jets have become the Britney Spears of the sports world. And while I suspect “Rex Ryan” is not being added to stories about Caroline Wozniacki or Danica Patrick, news gathering operations are finding other ways to inject the Jets into the sports story of the day without cheating to get page views.

They are having their reporters do the dirty work instead of leg work.

Let’s be fair here. The Jets do not deserve any type of notoriety at this point unless linked to what went wrong this season and what they plan on doing to fix it. But even that has become overkill of late. How many times do we have to read or hear that Rex was clueless about the locker room or that Sanchez didn’t have the backing of all his teammates or that Santonio Holmes is not deserving of the NFL’s Man of the Year award?

I think we all get it. The Jets were major disappointments in just about every way imaginable in 2011.

But that hasn’t stopped reporters from constantly asking questions about the Jets as if it’s is part of their job descriptions.

I may not like it, but I understand why reporters do it. Where there was once just a need to fill column inches and create a buzz, it’s now as much about driving Web traffic and getting page views, Facebook “Likes” and “retweets” on Twitter. It’s gotten to the point now where if you see the word “Rex” or “Jets” in a headline some strange force just makes you click on the story.

Believe me, every reporter and editor knows that and has mastered the art of misdirection direction.

And you really can’t even blame the Jets for the latest green and white media overload. Last I checked they haven’t done or said anything really inflammatory by their lofty standards since Revis decided to reiterate Rex’s cluelessness about the locker room a week ago. But even then, that was tame and old news.

But yet the Giants’ Brandon Jacobs, as well as the Patriots’ Brady, Logan Mankins and Shaun Ellis have answered questions on New York’s other team over the last few days in Indianapolis.

Jacobs was asked about Jets receiver Burress’ future. Mankins was pressed about the Jets’ penchant for talking. Ellis spoke of Jets’ “loyalty” while leaving out the $4 million he took from the Pats to leave. Brady went to bat for Ellis in his typical “shove it, Jets” tone.

The full context of what was said by each isn’t really important unless it was enough to warrant more questions. That’s how the game is played. That’s how ideas become stories that dominate news cycles.

There were probably many other players that found themselves offering answers and opinions on a team that should be so irrelevant as far as this season’s Super Bowl discussions go that even the horrible Pro Bowl should be a more prudent and timely topic of conversation.

My question is wouldn’t it have been nice if one player had said “no comment” or “why are you asking me about them?” when asked about the Jets? No, that’s a problem for everyone because unless the person being questioned comes up with something really creative, not answering or changing the subject only leads to more of the same types of questions.

The Jets are  so powerful a news driving force, they could easily pull a George Steinbrenner and try to steal some of the Super Bowl thunder in Monday’s papers by holding an impromptu press conference at MetLife Stadium at around 6:15 p.m. Sunday under the guise of some “big announcement.” The league, of course, would go ballistic, but I promise you, if the Jets went ahead with it every last reporter not in Indianapolis would be dispatched to East Rutherford and every reporter inside Lucas Oil Stadium would be glued to a television, little notepad or tape recorder in hand.

Right or wrong, deserved or undeserved, that’s power the Jets have that you can’t buy.

When Rex was hired in 2009 his first job was to change the culture of this franchise. He did that by getting the Jets to the AFC Championship game. The next year his job was to turn the Jets into champions, and though he once again came up a half short, he completed the public transformation. The Jets went from the team with no identity to the team with the biggest bull’s-eye on its back in the NFL.

But in 2011, Rex lost control of his own message and what’s transpired since has turned the Jets into the outlaws of the league.

The Jets were a lifeless body strapped to a gurney a few seasons ago. But then an eccentric mad scientist showed up and flipped the electric switch. What has resulted has been a Frankenstein-type creature that has caused all kinds of mayhem, but never quite enough on the field, where the true measure of who should be worthy of attention or criticism is supposedly determined.

Yet the media can’t get enough.

These are strange times, indeed, and my guess is they are only going to get worse before they get better.

If you thought before that the only way the Jets could control and justify their message was to win, get ready for an offseason of utter insanity.

For the Jets are always news, be it of their own creation or whatever the devious and desperate minds decide to dream up and pass off as relative.

Read more columns by Jeff Capellini

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …


One Comment

  1. Dan C. says:

    I guess Rex better get ready to kiss another ring, either the Giants 4th or Belichicks 4th. The reason Giants fans are commenting here is because we had to endure 2 years of Jets talk when they didn’t even win a division, let alone a championship game. Now after 3 years of Rex boasting Giants fans are enjoying both our SB run and the Jets demise, Its good to be the king!!!! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooo…………………….GIANTS!!

  2. WESLEY says:


  3. ken says:

    The Giants are in the Super Bowl, its Super Bowl Week and yet still Giants fans are reading and commenting on articles about the Jets.

    1. LOL, LOL says:

      You really mean the Giants are in the Super Bowl and the Jets are not. I thought the Jets were supposed to be in the Super Bowl.

      DAMN!!!!!, I wonder what happened.

  4. cousinrk says:

    The comments here proves the point made. Can you Jets haters even read? Read the article and what the premise is. He’s not saying the Jets are better and should be talked about. Get a clue. I also love the hypocricy that the Giants can walk around making predictions and sticking their chest out basically for 5 weeks and no one has a problem with it. The organization that is supposed to be the classy, conservative, take the high road team has taken on very Rex-like quailities yet doesn’t recieve any of the bashing the Jets get.

    1. Lantern says:

      cousinrk, thanks for the comment and getting the point of this. Sports fans are very protective and provincial. They often view a failure to worship when the situation seems to demand that someone be worshipped as a slight on their team. It’s absurd, especially when the context of the story actually does throw credence to their team but examines a bigger issue that pertains to how the media handles its agenda in the news gathering process. People simply do not take the time to examine opinion for what it is. Instead, it’s all about “what about me?” It’s a shame.

    2. Nick G says:

      The main point of the article is that the Giants and Patriots should be entirely focused on in media week since THEY are in the Super Bowl, not the Jets. Yes, the media day questions do sometimes get almost silly, but even beyond that there has been a little too much talk about a team that is sitting at home and didn’t even make the playoffs. Maybe the answer to this is that the Giants and Pats have the perfect opportunity to take their shots at the Jets right now. However, don’t read the article and act like the author is making these things up. He’s simply pointing out facts.

    3. LOL says:

      so your feeling were hurt. Cry baby!!! Cry baby !!

  5. Mike says:

    Dude what world are you living in?

    “players are literally spending big chunks of their time answering questions about Rex Ryan, Plaxico Burress, Darrelle Revis and Mark Sanchez”

    Which players specifically are answering these questions?

    The only reason anyone is talking about the Jets in NYC is the fact that a large majority of media with talk shows in NYC are Jets fans. Carlin and Boomer, Beningo and Roberts, Mike Greeney (Mike and Mike) and Linda Cohen are all huge Jets fans. They can’t stand the fact the Giants not only knocked the Jets out of the playoffs, but are on the verge of winning the SuperBowl, which according to Rex, he was going to win. They feel the need to bring up the Jets whenever they have a free breath.

    Your whole article is just another case of a disgruntled Jets fan who can’t give the Giants their time in the sun.

    Fifth Super Bowl in 25 years, choke on it Jets fans.

    1. Lantern says:

      Mike, thanks for the comment, but you miss the point. It’s not about what local media members say. Of course they are going to talk about the Jets because that’s what part of their audience demands. This is about the Jets always becoming a national sports story. And, while you’d like to think it’s me defending the Jets, I actually rip them throughout the piece. Your problem is you seem to think if the basis of the piece is not lauding the Giants I must be ignoring them or passing off their accomplishment this season as inconsequential. Ridiculous. Read, dude. The fact that Super Bowl week should be all about the Giants and Patriots and NOT the Jets is the crux of the story.

      1. Mike says:

        I didn’t miss your point. This week has been all about the Pats and the Giants.
        The national media and the local news are talking only about the Giants/Pats.
        The only people talking about the Jets are the Jets fans with talk shows.

        1. Lantern says:

          OK, so I’ll just imagine that the Jets haven’t been discussed by the mainstream media, as has been the case to a ridiculous extreme since the first day Rex took the podium in Florham Park in 2008. Thanks for clarifying. If you honestly think this team doesn’t fascinate the media in every way imaginable and not present itself as a ratings cash cow and page view generator then I guess we just have to agree to disagree.

    2. John says:

      Sorry Mike…Giants in the Superbowl…nobody cares…nobody cares. They are a team with no character…a bunch of duds with no personality. That’s why Namath was great…not because of his numbers, but who he was and reperesented. He had character, Manning looks like a dorky school kid with no flash.

  6. chikara71 says:

    pathetic article, could you tell WFAN is NOT the flagship station of the JETS?

    1. Lantern says:

      Thanks for the comment, but spare me. So I guess it’s the job of the so-called “flagship station” of a certain team to spend all its time talking about just that team? What’s pathetic, the fact that the Jets get some coverage or the fact that the Jets are still being talked about? The Jets created the monster they are. It’s grown to be a real big problem for their image. It can and should be discussed. Rather than saying something is “pathetic”, why not offer a counter argument?

      1. cane says:

        i want to know why every host on WFAN is basically a jets fan

  7. Steve G. says:

    Let’s see, a question about Plaxico to a player that played with him for several years. A question to a Patriot about himself, since he was a Jet just last year, and a question to Brady about that same player, one who tried to put him in the ground for years. Based upon those three questions you think that the Jets are somehow relevant or being talked about during this superbowl. Is this your first time at Media Day? You do realize that this is a day when players get asked questions like what is their favorite food, and similar idiotic questions, right? That’s why most players feel that their responsibility to show up for this nonsense is a joke. Players get asked about other players, and even other sports for crying out loud, but for some reason you focus on the Jets questions. Your story is not a true representation about the Jets and what is happening at the super bowl this year, but is just an example of another Jets fan who thinks that his team is bigger than the sport itself, all because of the big mouth of their idiot of a coach. Go ask someone in San Francisco if they care about the Jets or know about the problems between Sanchez and his receivers. I guarantee that the large majority of them have no idea about those things and, more importantly, could care less.

    1. Lantern says:

      Steve G, thanks for the comment. This goes way beyond Super Bowl week. It’s all about the media’s fascination with the Jets, not about what specific players are asked and why. If you don’t think media members and fan bases in other cities don’t spend plenty of time talking about the Jets, mostly to rip them for their transgressions, then you simply are not paying attention. I wonder if any of the players in the piece were asked questions about the Cardinals or Bengals or Dolphins or Bills or Seahawks or any other team you care to mention. Of course not. In addition to what their favorite color is and how many hot dogs they can eat in an hour, these players are being asked about the Jets, which is curious to me because, as I stated ad nauseum in the column, the Jets should be unimportant right now. Yet they still are, and it’s partly the media’s fault and partly the Jets’ fault for this being so. And for your information, I’m not at media day, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to comment on what is asked and said at media day. Maybe I’ll ask your permission next time seeing that you seem to know what a true representation of the Jets is..

  8. Ed says:

    Jets will remain a story like them or not. Any Jet news from now till September will be filled with negativity. I don’t know it’s fair to compare them to Yankees of late 70’s or Mets of mid 80’s with locker room drama. But those Yankees and Mets teams won a ring. Jets haven’t won anything.

  9. " says:

    The reason the Jets are mentioned is because their coach promised a super victory, again, 3rd time. Called out the Patriots by saying the Jets were the team to beat in the AFC East and stated the Jets were the better team in New York. Jets fans were pounding their chest when they heard Rex say that. Giants & Patriots took care of this boasting during the regular season

    So the Jets are mentioned now, but not in a positive way, see above.

    In reality the Jets are really irrelevant to the Super Bowl, they just happened to play in the same division as the Patriot and the same town as the Giants, but does everyone really care about the Jets? No.

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