12.26.2006

Why the Underdog Jets Are National Darlings





I could sense the cumulative consternation of Jets Nation Christmas night. Monday Night Football, in the thick of the bottleneck of the wild card race in the AFC, on the road in late December in Florida against a mightily-struggling Dolphins team and controlling their own destiny, the New York Jets waited until the end of the third quarter to display a pulse.

By halftime the Jets-Dolphins game score was a (jets) tittilating 0-0. Panic was that burning, runny feeling deep in the sinuses of Gang-greenies everywhere. Even I, a relocated and self-loathing Giants fan, was strenuously hoping that Pennington & Co. would get it together, dispatch the Fish (who played like they were out of water) and grab that dream of the playoffs dangling right over their heads. Tack on the fact that the Jets recently chose my hometown of Florham Park, NJ as their headquarters and that a good deal of my old friends from there are fans and you get my Bandwagon Vote.

I know that sounds like a sell-out, but I don't experience the bitterness of the Giants-Jets rivalry. I talk shit to Jets fans because of some unfortunate facility-sharing circumstances, but when it comes down to it, I like the Jets as long as they are not conflicting with my team's progress. And I believe that this is a distinction that the Jets enjoy with football fans across America outside of their division rivals, of course. That firefighter guy and the best crowd chant in the NFL has given the Jets some catchy and sentimental attachment to the nation's psyche, especially post-9/11. Throw in the classic, simple jerseys and a top-5 running back of all-time in Curtis Martin and the Jets had a great niche in the expanding exposure of the National Football League. That's great marketing, not from a billboard standpoint, but every NFL fan knows the 'J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets' chant. Commentators and nationally televised Jets home games further the endearment of it all. The rest of the league's fans are left to chant 'D-fense' and that's it. Here in Denver they chant, 'In-com-plete' but really, it pales in comparison.

Well, I think the Jets finally got to sensing that national underdog adoration in the 2nd half against the Dolphins. I sat there in Denver, watching with other transplants from Boston and Rochester and noticed them- having no allegiances at all- just start rooting for the Jets. The Boston guy was a Patriots fan! Why would he want them to win and possibly have to play them for a third time this year? The Rochester guy grew up with all Bills fans, but likes Cleveland. Sure enough, as soon as the Jets kicked a field goal to go up 3-0, they did the Jets chant.

Then the Jets seemed to notice there was game going on and they were in it.

The Jets defense should've been making Dolphins QB Cleo Lemon look like Strawberry Shortcake. The Jets offense knew it was going to have a time with the always tough Dolphins defense, but I expected their running-back-by-committee approach would move the chains, chew the clock and wear down Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas & Co. Fortunately, they did enough to win. The conditions were wet and sloppy, so that bears some reason for the ugly game.

When the game finished we started playing cards and I thought about the appeal of the Jets to the rest of the country. Jets fans got what they wanted for Christmas, a win and the driver's seat to the wild card pending a win next week over the woeful Raiders. Congrats Jets fans, the Cinderella season continues and here's hoping you that pumpkin coach doesn't show up any time soon.

5 comments:

Unruly Jets Fan said...

Yes, it is a little scary that Lemon or whatever his name is did so some good. But the Dolphins Defense are no slouches. I think they are amongst the best in the league.

Padraig O' Maolchathaigh said...

Tight jeans and no bulge, it kinda makes you wonder. Is he a firewoman?

Fakehead said...

Seriously, that guy needs to get out of the 80s. Does anyone know why he wears Ronnie Lott's jersey?
Strange.

Anyway, Go Jets!

FiggytheMick said...

Ronnie Lott finished his career with the Jets. Or is that too obvious? Fakehead, you should comment on our political commentary in Shea's blog.

Padraig O' Maolchathaigh said...

Yeah Ronnie was still good when he came to the Jets...a couple of good years. He kinda mirrored Everson Walls who had a couple of good years at the end of his career with the Giants.