The MetLife Stadium match-ups do not look good for Sunday at 1 pm ET. New York Jets coach Rex Ryan is melting down, while Tampa Bay cornerback and former Jet Darrelle Revis has been reviewing the Jets playbook with teammates. Revis could also line-up opposite rookie Geno Smith, who had a 3-interception game. The bad 45-year saga for Jets fans could continue.
Revis told ESPN he was all too happy to divulge every Jet secret before Sunday’s kickoff.
The old adage of “under promise, over deliver” is what makes life so painful for Jets fans.
The expectation games just started too high for those of us at least 45 years old. We watch the Jets win the most important game in NFL history in January of 1969. We had the player everyone wanted in Joe Namath, and we pulled off the 16-7 upset as 18-point underdogs to force the mighty NFL to merge with the AFL two seasons later.
I was given my Joe Namath jersey on December 25, 1968 and as a 3-year-old life seemed great. I get a jersey, I watch the guy wearing the same jersey on TV win the championship – how wonderful can life get?
Namath had one more MVP season before the Chief’s Willie Lanier beat him the playoffs the next year and gave the AFL a second Super Bowl, and the leagues merged.
But then life all turned sour. Namath’s knee braces robbed him of any mobility after Bear Bryant had called him the greatest athlete he ever saw at Alabama, and the Shea Stadium winds turned many of his spirals into interceptions. The Jets have won the majority of their games in less than one-third (14 of 43) seasons since joining the NFL.
The easy seasons are actually the 3-11 marks, like the Jets had from 1975 to 1977 as part of losing seasons through their first 11 years in the NFL. In those years it seemed like the Jets would always have a good drive early, settle for a field goal, and then lose 31-3.
But the Revis was the latest to give the Jets glimmers of hope of another Super Bowl.
In the 1980s, it was the sack exchange of Mark Gastineau, Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam that terrorized quarterbacks and got the Jets as close to the Super Bowl as Miami, where the Dolphins left their drainage system off to create a swamp to stop the Jets’ speed-based offense.
Then it was back to another 10 season without a winning record.
In 1998, the Jets had one glorious year out of the blue after taking Curtis Martin from the Patriots and Bryan Cox from the Dolphins. Vinny Testaverde came off the bench and led the Jets to wins in 10 of the last regular season games, then beat the Jaguars in the playoffs and even took a 10-0 lead at Mile High Stadium to put Jets fans on the verge of another Super Bowl.
Six turnovers later the Broncos had ridden 23 straight points to the AFC title.
Chad Pennington gave the Jets a couple of more years of hope in the past decade, only to have Jets fans cheer when he was injured after his skills started to deteriorate.
And then there was Revis, the best cornerback in the league that helped the Jets go to the AFC title game during Ryan’s first two years.
And now with the Super Bowl coming to MetLife Stadium in February, the Jets are staking their hopes on a struggling rookie quarterback with their Superstar wearing the other jersey when Tampa Bay comes to town.
Sure it looks uphill, but remember we were 18-point underdogs against the Colts, and the Pirates 20-year drought just ended. I am sure this is the end of the 45-year wait and Namath will be in the stands watching another Jets title.