It’s exquisite suffering being a JETS fan…they being the New York Jets Football Club…a team that represents New York and plays and trains somewhere out the swamps of New Jersey. Back in 1967 I remember watching Joe Namath dismantle their old AFL rivals The Oakland Raiders at a game at Shea Stadium. I was smitten. About 18 months later Broadway Joe was seen running from the Orange Bowl field, wagging that famous finger signaling that these same underdog Jets were quite incredibly, the champions of the football world.
Being young and not exactly in tune with the ways of sports, and the ways of the world in general, I assumed more wonderful things were to come and why not? We had a great QB with plenty of swagger. Our defense was quick and athletic and ranked tops in the AFL They had just made the vaunted Colts offense look silly in the Super Bowl. And we had a core of talented players like Boozer and Snell…Don Maynard…John Schmitt, Gerry Philbin, and John Elliot who had helped Namath accomplish his grand task. We even had a coach who not only talked the talk, but walked the Championship walk. They should have named the stadium The Weeb.
After The Chiefs barely dethroned the Jets in January of 1970, a revolving door of both players and coaches began spinning a frustrating championship-less web of ineptitude that has lasted for 46 years. Wow.
The early 70’s were a mess what with the likes of Charley Winner and pre-Notre Dame Lou Holtz running the show. Many of the Super Bowl heroes got old, got traded, got tired and retired leaving the franchise with bad players, bad coaching, bad bad bad. But after a heavy rain there usually appears a rainbow. A flash of color and hope. The Jets hired Walt Michaels…
a tough guy with a plan and one of my all time fave coaches. His 6 years rebuilding the JETS were some of the best in the post Weeb Eubank era. He was intent on building a defense.
Joe Klecko arrived shortly thereafter followed by Marty Lyons and Mark Gastineau. The offense boasted an improving Richard Todd, Freeman McNeil, Wesley Walker, Mickey Shuler and Rich Caster and suddenly the JETS were once again relevant. Unfortunately that dream died in the Miami mud of the Orange Bowl. Amid rumours of paranoia and alcoholism Michaels was dismissed.
When Ken O’Brien arrived, the JETS were a pretty solid contender. They were in the playoffs through most of the 80’s but once again they just couldn’t climb the mountain. We heard the chants of JOE MUST GO and then he did ushering in the Coslet era.
The team achieved respectable mediocrity but not much else. Pete Carroll got his shot and Marino’s fake spike was his coffin nail. You may know the name…he of the Seatlle Seahawks, in the Super Bowl 2 years running. Leon Hess was so desperate for a winner he hired Richy Kotite.
Mr. Hess was a good man with good intentions but apparently knew little about football. And we all ke know how this hire turned out. But before his departure Kotite did the team one huge favor. He discovered a fellow by the name of Chrebet. Thanks Richy.
After the disasterous 1-15 season, Mr. Hess finally came up with a smart football move and brought in Bill Parcells.
He turned around the team in a flash and had the JETS in the 1998 AFC Championship game. Vinny from Elmont had an awesome season and played a spectacular game in the winter weather in Denver. Unfortunately the rest of the team didn’t help him and once again the Jets fell.
The following year, the heavily favored Jets Super Bowl train was derailed in the first quarter of the first game of the season with Testaverde’s Achilles injury. As was his modus, Parcells disappeared into the night leaving the reigns to Al Groh who after one non-playoff seson caught the last train to Virginia. And along came Herm. He played to win the game, and Chad Pennington did his best to oblige but alas, no championship during their time in Green and White.
The JETS have the most playoff wins of any team since the merger that have not appeared in a Super Bowl. An odd stat indeed. A sort of successful losing streak…? Woody Johnson decided he needed a MAN-GENIUS to run the show and if it weren’t for Brett Favre’s bad shoulder late in the 2008 season, a Super appearance looked pretty good.
Belicheat wouldn’t shake Eric Mangini’s hand. Too bad. His quiet intense demeanor was soon replaced by BULLYBALL…as a loud intense Rex Ryan blew into town with a swagger and an attitude never before seen in JETLAND. He called out Belicheat and even handed him a few nice losses. It was refreshing and I must admit he quickly became one of my favorite JET coaches.
But after two more losses in successive AFC Championship games, followed by 3 non-descript seasons including a totally bizarre flirtation with Tim Tebow and the John Idzik disaster that destroyed the 2014 season things had to change once again. Idzik’s lack of key player signings, combined with the ineffective play of Geno Smith and Mr. Johnson was moved to act. Idzik was sent packing and Rex shuffled off to Buffalo.
And this is where Jet fans find themselves in 2015. Will Todd bowl us over or is this just another blip on the grid iron screen? I like Todd Bowles. A tough guy with a winning resume who demands accountability from his players. Parcells gave him a strong recommendation and it’s pretty obvious that he is a man on a mission. But wasn’t Parcells also on a mission? Mangini? Herm? Rex?
Winning a championship in any sport is a difficult and daunting task. Winning the Super Bowl is a nearly impossible mythic event in this day and age. Can the new GM, a superb talent evaluator in Mike Maccagnan, team up with Todd Bowles and finally bring JET NATION a Super Bowl champion? Maccagnan needs to bring in a group of talented players to add to a mix that has some young talented players, particularly on the defensive front. The offense needs an upgrade, cornerback has been a problem, a speedy linbacker wouldn’t hurt and what does he do about Geno Smith?!??! Good luck Mike.
We are once again reminded it’s a process. Hope you’re not going anywhere fans. This may take a while.