The typical Jets fan is male, about 26-35, built like Weeb Eubank, and has been wearing the same No. 12 jersey since the sixth grade, a garment that usually has been spared the indignity of repeated machine washings. The most important day in the life of a Jets’ fan is Draft Day, when he and his brethren gather inside a New York ballroom or arena to greet the franchise’s selections with catcalls and language that would make a Merchant Marine drop anchor so he could cover his ears.
Yet it appeared, for a while at least, that Jets Fan was poised for a makeover. And it all had to do with a stunning reversal of fortune. Instead of the franchise selecting a player that would trigger a replay of Mel Kiper Jr.’s now infamous 1989 assessment of its acumen — “It’s obvious to me that the Jets do not know what the draft is all about” — the Jets took quarterback Mark Sanchez this past spring with the fifth overall pick.
The arrival of the gifted and chronically upbeat Sanchez, coupled with the installment of Rex Ryan as head coach, sent tremors through Jets Nation. No longer would Jets Fan have to comfort himself with a 24-ounce draft and a chili-covered knish, although he certainly left that option open. The team’s fortunes were on the upswing. Joy to the %$#@! world.
But instead of spreading good will with this newfound prosperity, the Jets have, in a very short period of time, replaced the New England Patriots as The Team You Love To Hate. And it has nothing to do with on-field success.
Sanchez is fine. In fact, despite having done an excellent job managing the Jets’ offense and not making a boneheaded mistake in their 2-0 start, he’s practically innocuous. The USC product is supremely confident without being abrasive. He is so appealing that Jets Fan has to resist the temptation to put cheese and onions on him.
It's Ryan who might be the catalyst for turning the Jets into the Raiders East. And we all know how they’re doing.
Before Sunday’s 16-9 victory, Jets safety Kerry Rhodes said it wasn’t enough for New York to defeat the Patriots, they also needed to “embarrass” them. After the game, defensive end Shaun Ellis endorsed his mouthy teammate’s words, saying, “Kerry made a statement, we stood behind him and we had his back.”
Ryan also said he didn’t come to “kiss Bill Belichick’s rings” and declared, “We’re a football team that should be respected.”
Actually, the rest of the NFL, the fans and the media will ultimately decide that, Rex. Right now you should concentrate on the fact that your team has only played two games, and you’ve already used up 16 games’ worth of chutzpah.
The arrogance itself doesn’t bother me. I’m in the media, after all. We love colorful jokers who pop off. It keeps us busy. It spices up a slow news day.
It’s just that the Jets have a chance to build a legacy of football excellence, but they’ve chosen to get there by crawling through a mud wrestling pit. And that’s too bad.
PFT: Tom Brady, who turns 36 in August, says he has "never felt better throwing the football" and his confidence is peaking.
PFT: Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith said the draft process taught him an important lesson on taking criticism.
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