By Jason Keidel
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Let’s put down our swords for a second.
This isn’t just about Fan Guy or the Jets’ current plunge down the rungs of relevance. This isn’t even about the gritty game they just played against the Patriots. It’s about the zero sum reality of pro football and the Jets’ unwillingness to abide by it.
And when it seemed the Jets would storm to victory, after snagging a Tom Brady pass that put them in Patriots territory, Geno Smith was sacked, taking the Jets out of field goal range, and removing any chance they had to give their beloved coach a supreme sendoff.
This game was a perfect microcosm of the Jets and their jaded fans. We hear the endless platitudes about how hard they play for Ryan, and how they’re always a play or two, a player or two, from a victory.
Yet it never happens.
It didn’t happen when the Jets were actually good enough to reach two AFC title games. It didn’t happen when the Jets were good enough to win on Sunday. And whatever mojo Ryan brought the team has melted from memory over the last few years, with the Jets seemingly worse each of the last four seasons. They are 25-38 since they last played in the playoffs.
But even with their wretched record, some slice of us wants Ryan to stay. He’s perfect here, with his heft and hubris and epic passion. His crusade against the referees after the game shows that he’s invested every cell and synapse in a season that flat-lined long ago. Ryan is a composite of all the characteristics you need to win in New York. But he knows, more than any of us who chirp from the periphery, that wins and losses are the bold ink of your bio.
You can’t gripe about the refs when you’re 3-12. You can’t go grassy knoll and say John Idzik gutted the team to get Ryan fired if he can’t squeeze five wins out of his club, no matter their middling personnel.
Even if you accept the premise that the Jets would lead and bleed anywhere for Ryan, it has to translate into something substantive. We can’t keep hearing how appalled the coaches and executives are after each loss. It’s not your job to perfect your concession speeches. It’s your job to avoid them.
And the ripples of rhetoric have left nothing but a trail of forlorn fans who deserve better. Despite any treatise I write about the online tough guy who thinks he knows football because he burns “NYJ” into his Twitter handle, he doesn’t represent the blue-collar grit that truly defines the Jets fan.
You, the more seasoned and reasoned Jets fan, have emerged from the toxic gas of social media and showed me that the normal person, the proletarian, is the one who truly stays and suffers and pays the freight for this 45-year string of Gang Green futility. Somewhere in the whims, winds, and wins of a football franchise must grow something you can be proud of.
Football Sunday is our form of worship, a pseudo-holy portal through which you toss your burdens, only to have them waiting for you on the ground floor on Monday morning. Your football team is here to bring sanctuary, not stress. At least Giants fans can retreat into the two Super Bowls they’ve enjoyed under Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin.
When can the Jets fan find relief? Maybe once Ryan and Idzik are relieved of their jobs.
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel
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