Not only do New York Jets fans have to live through playoff-less droughts, they have to deal with the success of Tom Brady and the Pats.What did we ever do to deserve this?
It’s not like we broke the law or anything. It’s not like we’ve been spoiled. It’s not like we were so arrogant that this treatment was so obviously forthcoming.
As fans of the New York Jets, nothing about the National Football League or the game we love has treated us well.
It’s one thing to navigate through playoff-less droughts. We’ve always been used to this. Once Joe Namath took his bum and broken down body off the gridiron, the better part of the 1970s and parts of the 80s and 90s have tortured us. Admittedly, the struggles of the New York Giants for the better part of two decades made the sting hurt less.
With what we deal with now, nothing can compare.
One devastating hit by Mo Lewis 16 seasons ago began this fate. On Sept. 23, 2001, with just 5:03 remaining in a Jets-Patriots contest, No. 57 of the Jets smacked the Pats franchise quarterback so soundly that he not only was sidelined, but suffered internal bleeding and serious complications to his well-being.
You’re welcome, by the way, New England, the organization that had no idea who they had in that skinny sixth-round draft pick out of Michigan.
The notion that Brady fell into the Pats laps only furthers the Jets fans’ sorrow.
Growing up as a young Jets fan in the late 1980s and early 90s, the Patriots were the laughingstock of the NFL. From 1989 through 1993, New England put up a 19-61 record. In 1990, the Pats went a brutal 1-15.
Robert Kraft bought the team in 1992 for a cool $175 million (a then-NFL record). Rumors about the team leaving — as the outdated stadium and football-related venues — were as real as Brady’s greatness.
Not until Bill Parcells was hired did this organization level up into the big boy category.
Despite showcasing worst facilities in the NFL, the Big Tuna revamped an entire personnel base. Though it took time, he brought legitimacy to an organization in desperate need of such stature.
While Jets fans didn’t know it at the time, this was when the Pats dynasty took flight.
Parcells brought them within a few quarters of a championship against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. What followed was Bill Belichick saying “no thanks” to the Jets thanks to Leon Hess’s death (uncertainty regarding ownership) and Mo’s historic hit on Bledsoe.
This course of action led to where we are today: Four times witnessing Brady and Belichick hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and 11 times (once Sunday is over with) watching this squad represent one of two teams in the AFC championship game.
Again, “What have we done to deserve this?”
The National Football League, for so many diehard Jets fans, is the greatest thing on television. It’s a passion related to our most favorite game in the world. To continually have to endure this pain is almost cruel.
The storylines are upsetting. Mo’s hit, Belichick’s fleeing the scene, and Parcells’s career path — it’s all part of the disturbing reality of the Jets organization.
Moreover, trying to compete with a team that finishes with at least 11 wins a season in a league that heavily rewards division winners simply pours salt on the wound. Even worse is the idea of Spy Gate and Deflategate. What’s real? What’s not?
It’s all part of living life as a Jets fan.
Now, for the 11th time since Mo Lewis knocked Drew Bledsoe silly, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots will play in the AFC championship game. And for the 11th time since that fateful hit, Jets fans will suffer while watching the sports they love.
At age 39, Brady has never been better. His nutritional routines are legendary and he’s claimed the urge to play until his mid-40s.
Will the suffering ever end?
After all, Eli Manning isn’t around to save us this time.
No, we didn’t do anything to deserve this cruel reality. The only thing we can do is hope we’ll be rewarded when the dust finally settles.