By Kristian Dyer
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New York is green, and it will be for a long time to come.
This has always been the Giants’ town. They are the older brother, having dominated the five boroughs and North Jersey for well over a half-century. Outside of a brief spell late in the 1960s and into the early ’70s, it has been the Giants who have dominated the area’s football fans. But the Jets are primed to take over that title — not just now, but potentially for a very long time.
A city they once ran is no longer theirs. Sunday’s overtime win over the New England Patriots, a 26-20 thriller, has Jets fans proud to stick out their chests for the first time in a long time.
The Jets made the right moves this past offseason. They fired a popular head coach and brought in an energetic, under-the-radar general manager to right the ship of a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010. Now, with a win on Sunday over the Buffalo Bills — led by that aforementioned popular head coach — the Jets will be in the playoffs. Then consider the Giants, who will miss their fourth straight postseason.
The Giants look like the teetering old men here, drooling into their own laps and barely able to be competent. Compared to the Jets, they have very little star power and don’t have much to market other than talented liability Odell Beckham, Jr. If they fail to move on from Tom Coughlin this offseason, they are doomed for another season in the doldrums.
Compare this to a Jets team with a lot of young talent and star players at the skill positions. Players such as Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson are excellent and will likely retire as Jets.
The Giants, however, seem to lack a similar identity.
Even a roster makeover for the Giants would just be the NFL’s answer to Viagra, a quick fix that won’t help the old hips and balding heads that have come to be associated with this team.
The Giants are losing the battle in the stands. The Jets are just a more hip, more exciting brand to follow. They have what Fireman Ed calls “the greatest chant in sports” and have made big strides in recent years with social media, a major push by team president Neil Glat. Their audience is younger, louder and more entrenched in passion at this stage of their development. The Jets are undoubtedly the trendier of the area’s two teams.
Walk through the parking lot on any given Sunday at MetLife Stadium and Giants fans are far more collected, enjoying a good tailgate in what seems like a dressed-down version of the Sunday Book Review. It’s just a different vibe. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it feels sophisticated.
The next week, that same parking spot is likely filled with Jets fans crushing beers against their heads while chugging down another, amid a pack of fans yelling out “J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!” It is raw, gritty and a bit blue-collar.
In short, it feels like football.
It is just the reality of the New York City footballscape right now. The Jets are the hot commodity. It started in 2010 when Rex Ryan — yes, the “aforementioned head coach” of the Bills who faces his old Jets team this Sunday — made it not just OK, but downright acceptable to like New York’s green football team. He brought a swagger to this team, a belief that the Jets can be great. His tenure in New Jersey ended with a whimper, yet the sense of belief he brought to this organization finally began to mix with the angst cocktail all too familiar to Jets fans.
And now with a new head coach in Todd Bowles, Jets fans have every right to believe. After all, they are a win away from 11-5 and the playoffs.
Giants fans aren’t going anywhere, and their team will be back within a season or two (or three). But this is a team that has some serious soul-searching to do. In this new era of the NFL, the Giants come across as antiquated and stale, not the type of team that excites the younger generation.
But those Jets aren’t the same old anymore. Look no further than a Giants fan base that is green with envy at its crosstown rival’s success.
It is a Jets town now.