I wrote this for my column writing class during my senior year at Boston University five years ago. Professor Klarfeld (may he rest in peace) always wanted us to use humor in creative ways. Even in 2020, this piece on the New York Jets feels fitting, albeit slightly dated.
To my weekend lover,
I’ll be honest with you, some of this is my fault — I’ll take about half of the blame. I do have to question some of my sanity after all these years. But when it comes down to it, I think I’ve taken the high road in this relationship.
I’ve been faithful (even when I’ve thought about moving on and turning away) and loyal to a fault. I’ve even stood up for you when you and I both knew you were wrong. And believe me, you’re usually wrong. When the relationship was crumbling, and boy was it falling apart, I kept it together.
And after all of this, what have you done for me?
All you’ve done is ruin my Sundays for 21 years. If you haven’t done the math, that’s 1,092 Sundays. I’m sure the streak will continue.
I don’t ask for much. At this point, I expect nothing from you. And even with that expectation, I still am left disappointed. Yet, here I am, on another Sunday, clad in my ratty green and white Brad Smith No. 16 jersey, hoping for another New York Jets victory. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so.
I, along with the millions of other fans in the New York metro area, have had to live with the dysfunction, ridiculousness, chaos and the Buttfumbles (yeah that gets its own category) for far too long. Losing season after losing season, the act is getting tiresome. Can’t you figure out any new tricks? Usually, after a few weeks of performances, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus moves and sets up shop in another place. Somehow, though, your three-ring circus hasn’t left town for over 50 years.
To be fair, at a young age, I had the choice to not watch your debacle. I could’ve rooted for the Giants, who have now won two Super Bowls in my lifetime. Hell, I even could’ve cheered on the Patriots like my brother decided to do over 10 years ago. Instead, I decided to follow in the footsteps of my father, who watched Joe Namath beat the mighty Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. I was enamored by the glory day(s) of “Broadway Joe” and the upstart Jets. Without that team, there’s a chance that there wouldn’t even be the modern NFL as we know it today. It sounded like a fun bunch to root for, so I figured, why not? Little did I know that what I’d be seeing in my lifetime would be worse than a one-star off Broadway play in its final days.
At first, though, things looked good. You’d won a playoff game in my first year rooting for the team. The Raiders made sure you didn’t make it far into the playoffs when they spanked you in the second round, but I didn’t care. The playoffs were cool and I knew you’d get even further soon enough.
Or so I thought.
My father told me that this was nothing, and it would only get worse from there. The heartbreak would come. Sadly, he was right.
On a brisk mid-January night in 2005, 10-and-half-year-old Andrew snuggled up on the couch in the living room in front of the big flat-screen TV with in his Chad Pennington jersey on and a glass of Swiss Miss hot cocoa Mom whipped up from the kitchen in hand. This was big game. A chance at the vaunted Patriots was on the line. All the Jets had to do was beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team with a rookie quarterback named Ben Roethlisberger. “How bad can this be?” I thought.
Apparently worse than I ever could’ve imagined.
With the game tied and only a minute to go, kicker Doug Brien had a chance to seal the win with a chip-shot field goal. “I could kick this one in high school,” my Dad uttered aloud. Maybe he should’ve kicked it because Brien missed the kick wide of the right field goal post. It was OK. There would be other chances. And there was, right away, actually. The Jets somehow got the ball back with just a few seconds remaining. Brien would get a second chance. This would be it. But as the end-to-end kick flew threw the air and clanked off the crossbar, I was in disbelief. He missed again. Worse than that, Steelers kicker Jeff Reed didn’t miss his kick.
Pittsburgh would move on. Not the Jets. I couldn’t help but ball my eyes out. It was like you had dangled a piece of candy in my face and pulled it away. I was in disbelief. My father, the caring man he is, came over to console me.
“Now, you know what it’s like to be Jets fan,” he said, as he patted me on the shoulder.
Even after more collapses, AFC Championship losses, embarrassing seasons, and five New England Patriots Super Bowl wins that sentence has never left me.
As I watch this Sunday’s game against the Browns, and your offense sputters on the first drive of the game — as per usual — my dad’s words have never felt truer.
A Bitter Jets Fan