New York Jets
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

The New York Jets put on an exciting fashion show on Thursday night. But what fans truly want at this point is a Sunday thrill on the field.

Geoff Magliocchetti

Anyone who says that football is a “dying” sport is woefully out of touch. The news ledgers and social media timelines in New York City define this concept better than anyone.

In the city that never sleeps, the Yankees and Mets are back in full swing. The Islanders are going to the playoffs, and the Nets could join them. Yet, the city’s imagination has been captured by what was essentially a fashion show in Midtown, starring the New York Jets.

At Gotham Hall, the Jets literally took center stage as several of their most prominent names showcased their latest uniform set. The modern aesthetics are a combination of old and new. Kelly green (or, as the team labeled it, “Gotham Green”) is back in style, as are all-black alternate jerseys. The iconic oval Jets logo gets a slight update, as does the helmet, which goes from white to green and presents a somewhat minimalist look at the logo.

In typical New York fashion, the unveiling was accompanied by metropolitan pomp and circumstance. Musical performances preceded the reveal. Jets legends, such as Joe Namath, were in attendance. Acclaimed comedian and actor J.B. Smoove served as the master of ceremonies, clad in a tuxedo complete with a green bow tie. The breakout star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Smoove capped off the evening by teaching the Jets a new subway-styled celebration.

The Jets put on a show on stage. Now, comes the hard part: putting on a show on the field.

While many fans are sad to see the Jets’ prior look go, a metaphorical cleansing may have been in order. At the behest of Bill Parcells, the Jets introduced a look similar to their Super Bowl 3 wear in 1998. While there were plenty of warm memories, capped off by Gotham Green model Sam Darnold donning the uniform for the first time, the two decades that followed are defined by seasons that range from hopeless at worst to near-misses at best. Their mark in the prior set wraps up at 161-175.

We’ve seen plenty of teams use a uniform switch to trigger a shift in momentum. For example, it worked for the Denver Broncos, who immediately won two Super Bowls after transitioning away from their “Orange Crush” aesthetic. Touted rookie arrivals also often signal uniform changes, and Darnold certainly fills that category. The Jets are hoping that Darnold could hoist championship trophies in the look, much Stephen Curry and Alex Ovechkin did when their squads changed looks shortly after their arrivals.

New York Jets

This is indeed an era of Jets football rife with hope. In back-to-back first rounds, the Jets have legitimate reasons to think that Darnold and fellow fashion icon Jamal Adams will be sticking around for the long haul. Their natural on-field talent and confident yet approachable public personas put them both in a position to be the faces of a football-crazed city desperate for leadership. The latter traits were certainly on display on Thursday night.

“The uniforms are beautiful,” said Adams, adorned in black, according to NYJets.com’s Randy Lange. “If you don’t like them, maybe you have to go grab a drink or something. These uniforms look damn good.”

But, entering their fifth decade devoid of a Super Bowl parade, Jets fans have wisened up. They’ve seen hyped situations turn into expensive disasters. They can’t be pacified with bright lights and fancy colors.

This is a team, after all, that experienced the deepest valleys of the Tim Tebow roller coaster, one that ended after eight passes and 102 rushing yards to go with innumerable rumors and talking head debates. Several years prior, new head coach Eric Mangini cameoed as himself on The Sopranos after a 9-7 debut. His Jets coaching career was whacked two seasons later. During that period, the Jets teased dreams of having a stadium to call their own, but the polarizing West Side Stadium project never broke ground.

At this point, Jets fans don’t care about the new style of numbers on the jerseys. The only numbers they care about reside in the win column of the AFC East standings. They’d rather see this look showcased in January, not April. Now that the style showcase is over, it’s time to rediscover a way to make that happen. Prior off-the-field moves, i.e. the signings of Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley, were a good way to get that started. But the work can only be continued with the jerseys applied to a business setting.

To the gathered Jets’ credit, they concurred and were aware that the championship journey doesn’t end with a spring fashion show. Understandable hype and giddiness over the uniforms were present. But those feelings were trumped by a sense of determination make the uniforms truly look stylish. There’s only one way to truly make that happen.

“They look great, they look amazing,” Darnold acknowledged, per Lange. “But for us, it’s about doing what we’ve got to do on the field first and then the uniforms will look good because we’ll be winning games.”

“We knew they were going to be nice,” linebacker Avery Williamson concurred, also via Lange. “I can’t wait for this fall. Oh, yeah, we’re excited to change this thing around. Jet up, baby.”

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