In honor of May 6, National Beverage Day, ESNY looks back on the sweetest baths pathed with electrolytes on the New York Jets timeline.
May 6 is National Beverage Day. In the course of NFL history, one beverage means instant victory: Gatorade.
Its orange cooler is a constant prescience on football sidelines across the nation. That container’s hoisting is almost always a symbol of gridiron victory, its contents dumped over the responsible coaches. While the titular product might not always be in there, the gesture is the first step of a raucous party.
The tradition supposedly originated in New York, albeit in blue form. However, the New York Jets have still had their share of liquid jubilation:
2002: Packing It On
Head coach Herman Edwards and the Jets deserved some refreshment as the 2002 regular season ended. After all, they turned a 2-5 start into a division title, capping their comeback affair off with a dominant 42-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers. Chad Pennington threw for four touchdowns, two of which came in a 28-7 surge in the second half.
While Edwards’ bath contained water, it served as the sweetest reward for a 7-2 mark to create their most recent division title. Another gift awaited Edwards six days later: the game ball from a 41-0 home victory over the Indianapolis Colts in AFC wild-card playoffs.
It was deja vu all over again for the Jets in Eric Mangini’s 2006 arrival. The team was a mediocre 4-4 headed into a Week 9 bye, but they would make the playoffs with a 6-2 rally. The push for the playoffs was complete upon a 23-3 victory over the Oakland Raiders. It was an ugly game that saw both teams earn less than 300 yards, but it was nothing that electrolytes and a playoff berth couldn’t fix.
In a bit of foreshadowing, the Gatorade that engulfed Mangini, primarily poured by linebacker Eric Barton, was orange in color (and flavor, for that matter). Mangini’s next Gatorade downpour came as a member of the Cleveland Browns, they of the orange helmets. That party was brought upon by, arguably, the NFL’s most shocking regular-season upset of the 21st century: a 34-14 win over the New England Patriots in October 2010.
2010: Going In Style
Jets refreshment buckets seemed to have an attraction to Rex Ryan. The team certainly hopes
The namesake of Giants Stadium failed to close the premises on a good note. That squad was blown out 41-9 by the Carolina Panthers. Their green co-tenants closed things down on a much brighter note.
In the final game of the 2009-10 regular season, the Jets were taking on a Cincinnati Bengals squad that had their playoff status secure. As such, the Bengals rested their starters, but that didn’t make the ensuing Jets victory any less savory. In securing their playoff spot, the Jets limited Cincinnati to 72 yards, earning just five first downs. Three Jets rushers reached the end zone, with Thomas Jones getting there twice.
The Bengals, in hindsight, probably wished did more to prevent that aquatic sendoff. Less than a week after Giants Stadium’s grass was watered for the final time, the Jets tamed the Bengals once more in the playoffs. The participation of Cincinnati starters didn’t make much of a difference, as the Jets advanced with a 24-14 win.
2010: A Taste of His Own
Normally, it’s the coach who gets doused after a big win. But Rex Ryan was never one to stick to professional football conventions.
After spending 12 of his 13 NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins, future Hall-of-Famer Jason Taylor switched sides in the classic AFC East rivalry in 2010. He didn’t have to wait long to experience South Beach as a visitor. The Jets and Dolphins squared off in a Sunday night tilt to conclude Week 3.
Taylor and his new comrades escaped with a victory in a 31-23 thriller. Mark Sanchez threw three touchdown passes and Drew Coleman‘s end zone interception of a Chad Henne pass sealed the deal. In the celebration, Ryan dunked the Gatorade-branded water cooler on Taylor as time expired. Ryan showed his inexperience with the tradition, as the cooler wounded up knocking Taylor in the head. Fortunately, that had no ill effect on Taylor, who forced a fumble in the ensuing week’s win over Buffalo.
The lone New York season for Taylor featured 36 tackles and five sacks en route to the AFC title game. He was released after the year and would go on to play one more year in his traditional Miami home.
2014: See Ya Later, Gator(ade)
By the end of the 2014 season, Ryan’s schtick had worn thin. One last soaking and victorious memory awaited them in Miami.
Gatorade showers don’t usually end with celebrations, but the Jets were willing to make an exception for Ryan’s sake. At the end of a 37-24 win to close the season, the team rallied around Ryan to send him off in style. Geno Smith did the honors with a literal perfect game, posting a 158.3 passer rating with 358 yards and three scores. Ryan’s guys on defense came through with seven sacks. David Harris and Quinton Coples each had two. As the final seconds ticked away, defensive lineman Leger Douzable poured the bucket over Ryan.
The gesture, however, did nothing to delay the inevitable. Ryan was fired less than 24 hours after the win, two weeks before he accepted the same spot in Buffalo.