By Sean Hartnett
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Before every NFL season dawns, it’s the same old story for our two football locals.
The New York Giants tend to exemplify class and distinction, while the Jets’ can’t shake the label of boastful loudmouths or stay away from their trademark soap opera infighting.
Gang Green can’t get out of their own way when it comes to controversy. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie boasted that he’s the second best receiver on the Jets’ roster behind Santonio Holmes.
“I think I’d put myself as second,” Cromartie told ESPN. “I haven’t really played it in the past four or five years, but I can put myself as the second just with raw ability and talent going out there, I think, me separating and being a more physical guy out there on the outside.”
Chaz Schilens took exception to Cromartie’s comments, which must have privately irritated a number of less vocal Jets’ receivers.
It’s a culture that has been cultivated by head coach Rex Ryan, the man who put the swagger back into the Jets. Now that swagger has gone out of control, perhaps to the point that he cannot repair the fractured Jets’ chemistry.
“You guys know what was said, and back-and-forth,” Ryan told ESPN. “I’m not playing it out in the media. I’ll handle this. I’m aware of it.”
Saying that he can clean up the Jets’ mess is one thing, but keeping a lid on his outspoken players is a huge challenge — considering the monster that Ryan has created.
The Jets are always teetering on the edge of another controversy. We’re all waiting for the Mark Sanchez-Tim Tebow debate to unfold before our eyes.
Sanchez and Tebow are doing their best to support one another, but it’s almost inevitable that a teammate will call for Tebow to start once Sanchez makes a costly late-game decision. Another teammate will stick-up for Sanchez and a gulf will be driven through the Jets’ locker room with everyone taking sides.
The Jets are built like a poor deck of cards. We’re all waiting for them to fall apart. It’s up to Ryan to get everyone on the same page immediately or suffer through a season of acrimonious infighting.
If the Jets are a volcano ready to explode, the Giants are a sailing on a calm blue ocean going along with the breeze.
Whenever the winds of controversy begin whip up, Tom Coughlin and John Mara are able to steady the ship and not let things spin out of control.
Mara took little notice toward Jerry Jones’ proclamation that the Dallas Cowboys would beat the Giants’ rear ends. Mara typically brushed-off the always boastful Jones, stepping around the comment like an agile running back.
He even added a bit of humor at the Jets’ expense.
“But that is actually the first time I’ve heard that comment,” Mara said on The Mike Lupica Show. “I have been so caught up in the Tebow coverage that I haven’t had time for anything else.”
“Talk is cheap,” defensive end Justin Tuck said in response to Jones’ comments. “Play the game.”
That ‘take care of our own business’ nature if part of the reason why the Giants are winners. They don’t get in their own way.
Meanwhile, the Jets’ egos are a product of their own creation. The Jets need to take a page out of the Giants’ playbook when it comes to harmony and class.
Will the Jets ever learn from the Giants’ model of quiet confidence? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.