New York Jets

That game was overrated, you know. It just wasn’t that memorable. I’m referring to that championship game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Jets right now. Surely, you’ve heard of this one: The famous guarantee of Jets quarterback Joe Namath, an invincible Colts team favored by a whopping 19-point line, and a stunning upset that legitimized the American Football League and pushed through a merger with the established National Football League that every team in the AFL survived. Even its historical significance was overblown – after the game, it was seen as one of those once-in-a-lifetime shockers that happen when the clearly superior team walks in after taking their opponents as a joke.

You know I had to lead with something like that. Throughout a history dating back to 1960, that one, lone game has been the defining identifier of the New York Jets. For a team that did so much to establish the AFL and challenge the NFL, the Jets… Well, you can’t say they’ve been a low-key team. They haven’t. They haven’t been the NFL’s worst, either, although they’ve been through some times where they challenged for that title. Most of their fortunes seem to have occurred through the misfortunes of other teams. While they managed to steal the hearts of New York City’s football fans a few times, that was more because the senior, regal New York Giants were fucking up even more than they were.

The AFL was founded in 1959 because the NFL was being stodgy and stuck in its ways. That statement is read: Their sport was growing in popularity, but they didn’t want to place teams in places that wanted them. So group of businessmen the NFL spurned got together and started a new football league as a way of telling the NFL to go fuck itself. That league, the AFL, was started in 1959, and it HAD to work. Not working out wasn’t an option – they came right out and said they were going to fight the NFL blow for blow for gridiron supremacy. Naturally, that meant they were going to plop a team right down in The Capitol of the World, New York City, because if you want to start a successful sports league, a team has to be there. The team’s original representative, Harry Wismer, first christened the new team The Titans of New York. Yes, that was the original name. It was also meant to be a direct shot at the Giants – Wismer explained that, “Titans are bigger and stronger than giants.” The original general manager was Steve Sebo, and soon Wismer started bragging about his coach being one of the biggest names in the history of football. He wasn’t kidding, either; his pick for the team’s first coach was Sammy Baugh, the legendary quarterback of the Washington Redskins who is considered the first real prototype of the passing quarterback. Baugh, however, came along with an unusual demand: He wanted his entire first season salary – $20,000 – be paid to him up front. Before his first press conference. In cash. The AFL teams weren’t exactly overflowing with bargaining power back then, so they gave it to him. It set a tone.

Baugh wasn’t exactly a bad coach, though. Granted, he wasn’t great, either – the Titans’ first season ever ended with the team sitting at an even 7-7. The second season ended the same way. That being the case, Baugh’s weird little initial demand proved to also be a smart one when the team let him go. Only they didn’t get around to actually telling him he was finished. See, Baugh’s contract said that he was getting his money no matter what, unless he quit. Since the whole league was piss-poor all around – the Titans themselves had to be rescued from bankruptcy themselves after losing $1.2 million in their first year – the Titans couldn’t just tell Baugh he was done. They had to find subtle ways into encouraging him to quit. Wismer’s first way of trying to do that was by just hiring a new coach, Clyde Turner, outright. When that didn’t work, he tried holding the upcoming training camp without telling Baugh where it would be. Baugh found his way there anyway and spent the next several days continuing to act in his role as the team coach before Wismer figured out that hey, Sammy Baugh wasn’t going to quit! So Wismer finally sucked it up, fired Baugh, and said the impending IOU would have to be done in monthly installments. Then he simply never paid Baugh – at least according to Baugh.

That being done, the Titans started trying to find their players through the Draft, but they also shared their draft with the same pool of players as the NFL. That meant nearly every player the Titans drafted preferred to go to the NFL team that also drafted them. And they weren’t without just cause, either: Many of the checks players received bounced, and the players became infamous for their beeline bum rushes straight to the bank after receiving them. There was plenty reason for them to be pissed, and since Turner had never been a coach before and had no idea what he was getting into, he had some trouble getting everyone to act like a team. Public attention in New York City was also still focused on the established teams, so the Titans were ignored. It was focused on the recently-formed Mets too, but that was because their record was as uniquely criminal as John Gotti’s. The Titans finished 5-9, and quickly got back to the coaching search.

It was in April that the Titans found their guy: Weeb Ewbank, coming off a recent stint with the Colts during which he had won two championships – including the legendary 1958 title that established football as a major sport – and one of the most respected coaches in the game. The Titans also soon got a new nickname. They wanted a name that would reflect the new, modern, speedy age they were playing in and would represent, and deemed themselves the Jets. And you know what else the 1960’s are famous for? Turbulence and chaos, which the Jets were also reflecting. They had very few players actually signed, so the AFL took the step of giving them an expansion draft so they could grab a few players from other teams, and also giving them first dibs at any NFL players who had been from their teams. The Jets spent 1963 fighting against the Buffalo Bills for their division title and were in the thick of the race right into December with a 5-5-1 record. (It was a weak division.) They lost out, though, and ended the year going 5-8-1.

The name was Namath. Joe Namath. He played for Alabama, and ‘Bama coach Bear Bryant said Namath was the most gifted natural athlete he ever saw. Both leagues wanted him. Hell, both leagues NEEDED him. And he was drafted in the first round by both. But the Houston Oilers had the first overall pick in the AFL Draft, and both the Oilers and Jets knew the Jets had a much better chance of signing him than any team in the NFL. So the Jets managed to get their hands on the first overall pick that year because the Oilers were willing to place league above team, and what happened next was a bidding tug-of-war between the Jets and the NFL team that drafted Namath, which happened to be the St. Louis Cardinals. The price got too high for St. Louis, so they got run out of the competition just in time for the NFL to come to the realization that it, too, had a New York City team! The Cardinals secretly handed the rights to Namath to the Giants, but apparently everything had dragged out a bit too long for Joe Willie by then. Turned out that he had secretly signed with the Jets the day before his final game with the Crimson Tide, which happened to be the Orange Bowl. (And let’s be honest – the Giants didn’t stand a chance at the time either. Although just a few years removed from three straight NFL Championship appearances, they were old, wrecked, their owners weren’t getting along, and they had just started a streak of suckitude which ran until The Miracle at the Meadowlands play finally served as a wake-up call in 1978.)

Namath got the keys halfway through his first season and ended up being the Rookie of the Year. The next year, the Jets slowly started to get better, and Namath took them to a 6-6-2 record. In 1967, the Jets posted an 8-5-1 record which was their first winning record. Namath threw for 4007 yards, which was the record for most passing yards in one season at the time. It stayed the record right through the end of the 14-game era and wasn’t broken until 1979, when Dan Fouts of the San Diego Chargers needed 16 games to do the job.

1968 started with an attempt to get Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi to New York City. Lombardi declined, deciding to keep coaching in Green Bay for another season. Nonetheless, 1968 was the season to remember for fans of the Jets. They started with their traditional three-game road trip to give the New York Mets their space at Shea Stadium, which the two teams shared. The Jets quickly took off that year; they went right to the top of their (admittedly weak) division and stayed there. In November, they had still only lost two games. Playing a road game against the Oakland Raiders, the Jets fought right to the end, taking a 32-29 lead on a field goal with just 68 seconds left. The Raiders then scored two touchdowns to win the game. How? Well, it’s not like most of the country can tell you, because they didn’t get to see it. Here’s how much respect professional football was getting at that time: With an exciting game going and just over a minute remaining, the station showing the game cut it off to show the children’s movie Heidi. But that loss was a hiccup, the Jets won out, beat the Raiders in the AFL Championship, and went to the third-ever AFL-NFL Championship Game… And lookie here, they decided to attach a new name to the contest this year which was less of a mouthful. From here on out, the big annual showdown between the AFL and NFL was going to be called the Super Bowl. And name for whathaveyou, it was still pitting the AFL and NFL champions against each other, and it was the third time they were doing that, so this would be Super Bowl III.

At this time, the AFL was deemed the inferior league. Posers and rejects played there while people who were good at football went to the NFL. Although the AFL had done such a great job marketing itself that the NFL was forced into this annual contest in order to defend its reputation, well, the NFL defended its reputation. The first two interleague matchups respectively brought the Kansas City Chiefs and the Raiders from the AFL to slug it out with Vince Lombardi’s Packers dynasty. Needless to say, the Chiefs and Raiders were both crushed in short order. Lombardi’s teams didn’t make it that far in 1968. They ended up bowing to a machine that was even more ruthless, efficient, and powerful, if that was even possible: The Baltimore Colts of 1968 went 13-1. They had allowed only 144 points against them during the season. That one loss to the Cleveland Browns was avenged in the NFL Championship, in which the Colts killed the Browns 34-0. They shut out three teams, allowed teams to score double digits against them just seven times, and won most games by double digits. They were so good that they managed to do all that without the services of their longtime star, Johnny Unitas, who was injured in preseason. Their quarterback for the season was Earl Morrall, a 12-year veteran who started inconsistently over a career with four teams. The Jets had plenty to be afraid of.

Except that Namath wasn’t showing a whole lot of fear. He just sort of popped up in Miami – where the Super Bowl would be played – and went about enjoying himself. He was outspoken about the Jets’ chances in the Super Bowl. Along the pregame buildup, he said there were five quarterbacks in the AFL better than Earl Morrall. He said Morrall would only be the third-best quarterback on the Jets. He was outspoken when he was verbally confronted with Baltimore’s kicker in a restaurant. And when he accepted an award three days before the game and a loudmouthed Colts fan asked him about the Colts (sigh) again, Namath, finally sick of hearing about the fucking Colts all the fucking time, gave him the quote which will be printed on his grave: “And we’re going to win on Sunday, I’ll guarantee you.” Of course, the stodgy football establishment couldn’t take that sort of brashness, and their monocles fell from their eyes and broke as they gasped in horror. One pundit went so far as to say he would tell everyone what he thought of Namath after Sunday, after Namath played his first football game. It should also be noted, though, that Namath did find one notable NFL traditionalist who thought the Jets had a shot: Vince Lombardi, who said “This kid can beat them!” (Paraphrasing, but only slightly.)

Game day came, and both teams found themselves locked in a defensive struggle. By halftime, the score was 7-0 Jets, on a running touchdown by Matt Snell. In the second half, the Jets chipped two field goals through the uprights to go up 13-0. Baltimore, meanwhile, kept blowing numerous scoring chances. In the third quarter, the Colts, finally frightened out of their minds, yanked Morrall and put Johnny Unitas into the spot he should have already been playing. But the Jets stayed right on the Colts and kicked yet another field goal for a 16-0 lead. Unitas finally did manage to get the ball rolling and score a touchdown, but there weren’t even four minutes left in the damned game by then. The Colts failed to recover the ensuing onside kick, the Jets ran out the clock, and the 16-7 final gave the AFL its first bragging rights.

The rise of the Jets had started to wear on the Giants. The Giants were – and, in fact, are – one of the proudest and most storied teams in the NFL. Just before the Jets came of age in the mid-60’s, the Giants were one of the NFL’s best teams. Before 1963, they had played in five NFL Championships in six years. Things went spiraling down and out of control for them afterward, though, and while the Jets were reigning as the football team of the hour, the Giants were using over-the-hill tactics and players. The two teams finally played against each other in the first wave of NFL-AFL preseason games in 1969. The Jets won soundly, 37-14, and had won their division by the end of the year. They didn’t repeat, though, and they fell to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Chiefs in the playoffs. But after that, the Jets lost their mojo. Namath had bad knees, and for the remainder of his career, he only won two more games against teams with winning records. While he still performed heroically at times, he also got ripped up by the injury bug. Ewbank retired as coach in 1973, and a coach carousel kicked off. Namath was almost immobilized by his knees. After failing to trade him, the Jets just cut him outright before the 1977 season. Namath signed with the Los Angeles Rams and retired at the end of the season.

Coach Walt Michaels got the reins in 1976. Although Namath was out before Michaels coached the Jets through a season, the 1977 Draft saw the team grab some capable players: Marvin Powell, Wesley Walker, and Joe Klecko. The Jets won three games that year, but they gelled and went 8-8 the following year. Michaels was able to keep his team in contention for so long that the league saw it fit to bestow him with the Coach of the Year award. Klecko and Mark Gastineau were the heart and soul of a defensive line called The New York Sack Exchange, and Michaels was able to coach them to a little bit of success during the early 80’s. Unfortunately, “little bit” is relative to the Jets. They would have a winning season, then a losing season, then make the playoffs, then not… In 1980, the Jets won 10 games and made the playoffs, only to lose to the Bills, who hadn’t won a playoff game since the AFL years. Even the 1982 season, the one time the Jets went above and beyond, to the AFC Championship, came with an asterisk – a strike shortened the year to nine games. The Jets went 6-3, and Michaels resigned. Joe Walton replaced him, but his first big decision turned into a big “what if:” In the 1983 Draft, the Jets selected quarterback Ken O’Brien. Dan Marino was still on the board at the time.

Despite that, the Jets managed to get into the swing of things for a few years. In 1985 and 1986, they played pretty well. 1985 saw an 11-5 record and expungement from the playoffs by the New England Patriots. 1986 involved another visit to the playoffs, only so they could lose to the Browns. After regressing to 6-9 the next year, the 1988 Jets went 8-7-1. They didn’t go to the playoffs, but they beat the Giants in the last game of the season to secure a winning record. (Which was no small feat by then; the Giants had reversed their course, contended constantly, and had won the 1986 Super Bowl. They would win it again in two more years.) Unfortunately, the Jets fell to 4-12 in 1989, and Walton was fired. Had the season not gone so badly for the team, Walton would have been the first coach to ever conclude his tenure with the Jets with a winning record. Walton later said this was something he cared about a lot.

The next coach was Michigan State head coach George Perles… Or, at least it would have been if Michigan State University had released him from his contract. Yeah, that didn’t go anywhere. So their fallback choice was Bruce Coslet, former offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. Coslet had credentials: His innovative offenses included the initial no-huddle scheme that the Bengals rode to the Super Bowl; one which Bills coach Marv Levy liked so much that he installed an enhanced version of it into his own teams and dominated the AFC. He seemed like a great pick, but the Jets still couldn’t do very much with him. They earned a playoff berth in his second season – with an 8-8 record. The Jets lost to the Oilers, though, after a last-second tying pass into the endzone was intercepted. Dear god, this history is starting to sound like a broken record. Suffice it to say there was a pattern to the Coslet years: A few strong games to begin, followed by a collapse somewhere along the line. Some years, that collapse came sooner than in others. One year, they managed to beat the Bills early in a season in which they finished 4-12. Another, they had a 7-8 record going into a win-and-in finale in Houston and lost. But it always ended the same way. Coslet was fired after the 1993 season and replaced with the team’s defensive coordinator, Pete Carroll. Now, you’ve heard of Pete Carroll. Everyone has. He’s one of a very select few coaches to have won titles in both college football and the NFL, and is today considered one of the game’s great masterminds. Unfortunately, nearly every coach comes with a pre-good version, and that’s the version of Carroll the Jets got. This was his first head coaching job at any level, and for a guy coming in with no expectations, he failed to live up to those expectations. He lasted through only the 1994 season, taking a team dysfunctional on and off the gridiron to a 4-12 record. The next guy was Rich Kotite, who went for two seasons and won a grand total of four games.

Looking for some kind of spark, the Jets hired Bill Parcells. Parcells is widely considered another one of football’s great masterminds. Unlike Carroll, though, he had already earned that reputation before the Jets hired him. In fact, it was part of the reason they hired him! Parcells was the guy who was finally able to get the Giants back on course in the 80’s, taking them to two Super Bowl victories. That meant his history in New York City was a nice added bonus. And Parcells finally got the results the Jets were hoping to build on: In 1998, the Jets went 12-4 – their best record ever – and won the division. Since they were the second seed in the AFC, they got a first round bye before beating up the Jacksonville Jaguars 34-24, setting up an AFC Championship date with the Denver Broncos. Although New York led 10-0 in the third quarter, John Elway did as John Elway always did, which was to put 23 points on the board which the Jets weren’t able to respond to. The Broncos went on to win the Super Bowl and the Jets went home. Finally going into an upcoming season in which the best they could hope for being legitimately good as opposed to surprising every other team by earning a Wild Card spot, quarterback Vinny Testaverde ruptured his Achilles tendon and the Jets were done in before the year even started. They began by going 2-6, but Bill Parcells being Bill Parcells, they managed to win out for a more respectable 8-8 record. Two days after the season was over, Parcells quit.

In his place, the Jets hired one Bill Belichick, the football coach to end all football coaches!… He was the coach of the Jets for a day! Belichick found out through a few intermediaries that the New England Patriots wanted him and were going to give him full control of all football operations. That was a pretty sweet deal for Bill, who wrote out his resignation on a napkin and bolted. The Jets finally found the guy for them in 2001, Herman Edwards, who had played in the NFL and worked his way up the coaching ladder but never was a head coach before. Although he was pretty respectable as a coach, he was never great. He won a division title in 2002 and killed the Colts in the playoffs. But that was a weird aberration – the division title came on tiebreakers. The Jets, Patriots, and Miami Dolphins all went 9-7 that year while the Bills owned second place all to themselves at 8-8. The Jets finally looked like they were headed in the right direction (again) between Edwards and quarterback Chad Pennington, and they delivered again in 2004 by going to the playoffs again, and even winning their game against the San Diego Chargers. 2005, though, was a disaster. Pennington was hurt, his backup was also hurt, and the third-stringer was so bad that Vinny Testaverde’s 41-year-old carcass was yanked out of retirement. He was so bad that the Jets went with the bad third-stringer. Also, running back Curtis Martin needed knee surgery and, when four games were left in the season, decided it couldn’t be put off anymore. Edwards resigned.

The next two coaches followed that pattern, more or less. Eric Mangini and Rex Ryan both started well but couldn’t keep momentum. Mangini got them to go 10-6 to lose to the Patriots in the playoffs. Then he threw a temper tantrum about New England’s videotaping habits. Although the Patriots were fined and relieved of a first round Draft pick, it didn’t help the Jets, who ended up dropping Pennington during Mangini’s tenure. Mangini took time from his schedule to appear on The Sopranos. Ryan started stronger than Mangini – he got the Jets to the playoffs in two straight years, and in fact he managed to get them to the AFC Championship in both of those years. In fact, for those years, Ryan was looking like a downright steal – he beat the Colts, beat the Patriots more than once, beat the Patriots in the playoffs, and got strong performances out of Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene. But, alas, the Jets turned into the Jets again, and it became clear that Ryan was talking loudly and carrying a small stick. He once promised a Super Bowl appearance which he didn’t deliver on, got a tattoo of one of his players, appeared in a movie, got his truck made up in a Jets paint job, and was basically a walking facsimile of the team. The Jets got to the point where they signed Tim Tebow – I’m not sure whether that was meant to really improve the team or if it was just an asses-in-seats move. Tebow was visibly bad at his position, but he was famous for taking the Broncos to a Wild Card spot a few years before which they weren’t supposed to get into. That convinced more than a few pundits that he had some sort of talent, so both options seem pretty likely. All the fortunes of the Jets over the last few years were encapsulated in one weird and hilarious sequence known now and forever as the Buttfumble. It was a Thanksgiving game between the Jets and Patriots in 2012, so everyone saw it. In a game which ended in a 49-19 disaster, the Buttfumble is the play best remembered in a wild second quarter sequence which saw the Jets fumble three times, lose all three fumbles, and the Patriots score off all three. Mark Sanchez called a handoff to his fullback. Greene was intended to run left and the defense was aimed to chase him down. Meanwhile, fullback Lex Hilliard would take the ball to Sanchez’s right. The ball was snapped, and Sanchez turned to the right by mistake. That destroyed the play, and all that was left was for Sanchez to try to salvage it. He scrambled, broke into a slide, and smacked Brandon Moore’s unsuspecting bottom. The ball fell to the turf only to be nabbed by Patriots safety Steve Gregory, who ran it for a touchdown.

Joe Namath, Dan Maynard, Curtis Martin, Joe Klecko, Dennis Byrd, and Weeb Ewbank have been honored by the Jets. Other notables have been Brett Favre, John Riggins, Art Monk, Ronnie Lott, and LaDainian Tomlinson. All of those guys except Riggins were Jets for a year or maybe two at the ends of their careers. Namath is sort of an oddball on that list; despite being an undisputed legend, you have to cue the scene from Gladiator where Richard Harris tells Russell Crowe that he was the best because the people loved him, not because of how good he was. If we go by statistics alone, that logic stands in Broadway Joe’s case: 27,663 career passing yards, a TD/INT ratio of 173-220 (which is putrid), a 50.1 completion percentage, and a QB rating of 65.5 means Namath is in the Hall of Fame for being the quarterback for The New York Team for one game. Yes, Namath performed flawlessly in that game, but let’s face it: If he had played in St. Louis – where he was originally drafted – he’d still be selling insurance today. There exists the distinct possibility that Vinny Testaverde and Chad Pennington were both better than him – the former had a better passer rating and TD/INT ratio, although his statistics are marred because his career also ran for so much longer. The latter had to fight injuries, but he won the Comeback Player of the Year Award twice. When Pennington retired, he had thrown 102 touchdowns to 64 interceptions, which is FAR superior to both Testaverde and Namath, and his rating was an excellent 90.1, again much better than both. It’s entirely possible that Pennington may be the best quarterback who never had a chance to live up to his career potential. On the other hand, Curtis Martin may be the most underrated running back in history – when he retired, he was fourth all-time on the rushing yards list with 14,101 rushing yards and an additional 3329 in receiving.

Now, let’s talk about Super Bowl III. First, while the NFL was the more established and popular league, the AFL managed to develop an ace card: Innovation and experimentation. Yes, the NFL was the big time, but every team there had a habit of copying each other. Find what worked, copy it, and stick with it. And what worked repeatedly was defense and running. The AFL was where everyone went when they wanted to tinker and play. The Colts did well because they employed a zone defense, which allowed them to guard against passing attacks in a way which was new to the NFL at the time. Unfortunately, Namath had to deal with stacked lines and other weird illusions en route to the Super Bowl, and the zone defense was pretty common in the AFL. So, to the man whom one sportswriter said was preparing to play his first professional football game, Baltimore’s offerings on defense were remedial to the point of insult. His team shared his confidence – one player started to worry while watching game footage of the Colts that the Jets would get TOO confident. It was the Colts, not the Jets, who were unprepared and more like a team going into their first professional football game. Second, Super Bowl III didn’t legitimize the AFL. When it happened, it was written off as a one-time stunner which would be forgotten. The next season, when AFL and NFL teams played against each other in the preseason, the NFL won all but about three games against the AFL. The Super Bowl that really legitimized the AFL was the next one – in Super Bowl IV, the Chiefs manhandled the Minnesota Vikings, and suddenly the AFL’s record in the Super Bowl was 2-2. The leagues were even, so the NFL was finally forced to admit there was parity.

The Jets’ situation with the Giants has long been, well, kind of weird. When the Jets started, the Giants were coming away from a turn as one of the NFL’s glory teams. Now, it wasn’t like they weren’t a glory team anyway; it’s just that they were on a run which was especially good. In 1958, the Giants played in the famous NFL Championship game against the Colts that went to overtime and was watched on TV by nearly 50 million people. They lost, but were remembered for the fight they put up. In the next few years, they were a pre-merger version of the early-90’s Buffalo Bills – they went to the NFL Championship but couldn’t close. In 1959, it was the Colts again. By 1961, they had acquired legendary quarterback YA Tittle from the San Francisco 49ers and went back to the NFL Championship every year from 1961 to 1963, losing to the Packers the first two times, and the Chicago Bears the third. Despite those losses, they did establish themselves previously by winning league titles in 1927, 1934, 1938, and 1956. But starting in 1964, the Giants fell apart because everyone got old. In 1965, owner Jack Mara died, and a feud developed between his successors. Meanwhile, the team continued to blow its rebuilding efforts. The Giants didn’t make the playoffs between 1963 and 1981, ever, and their fall allowed the Jets to steal the spotlight. Things finally turned for the Giants after a very famous play in 1978 humiliated the team and the fans. The Giants finally started patching up their ownership schism and taking the necessary steps to build a contender. While the Jets finally started to not be bad by the late 80’s, the Giants had turned around completely. Despite the Jets’ head start in the Super Bowl era, the Giants were able to stay the alpha team in New York City. It’s no coincidence that the Jets have one Super Bowl title and a messy history while the Giants have four Super Bowl titles and the respect of NFL fans everywhere.

It doesn’t help that the Jets are forced to share their stadium with the Giants. The stadium is in New Jersey, which is abominable – and also means the Buffalo Bills are the only NFL team in all of New York – and football author Tim Green wrote that fans there tend to confuse the two teams. Both teams, therefore, are misnamed. This is the only instance I can think of in which a team – really two in this case – that claims to represent a city plays its games in a whole other state.

The New York Jets at least represent New York City, and that appeal means they’ll probably never be wanting for talent – it’s why they got Joe Namath, after all. But with two of every team in the area, they’re also the lesser team. They’re the one you look at and wonder, why? Why when the other guys are there?

Pros

New York City can always lure players; have a big and loud personality for which Broadway Joe Namath is the everlasting face; there’s a unique fan chant (J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! JETS!); Super Bowl III is considered a fulcrum game in league history; have more blue collar, populist sensibilities than their neighbors

Cons

Share their turf with the more storied and regal New York Giants; don’t play in New York; loud personality has a tendency to blow up in their faces quite often; are in the habit of switching team-building methods every three seasons; frequently bereft of real superstar power

Should you be a fan?

You can, because players will always play for the Jets if they can, and they’re one of the few teams that’s sure to win a title by accident one of these days. But you do have to deal with the prospect of seeing a play like The Buttfumble, getting humiliated, then looking out enviously to the Giants fans in the vicinity.

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