First published at my site Ronald Phillips New York
Sports Team Hate is a human condition. We all hate losing teams, but let’s face it…there are just some teams that are easier to hate than others. New York has always been known for having four major sports teams within its city limits – the Yankees, Giants, Mets, and Rangers, but this being 2021, there’s a 5th New York sports team to add to that list, and that team is the New York Jets.
The Jets have been around since the dawn of time. Well, not exactly, but they’re close. In fact, it has been 43 years since the Jets took the field for the first time in front of a crowd of over 28,000 spectators. My dad was among those who were there that day to see it all. I was just a lad of 12 at the time, but I remember him telling me all about it when they beat the Baltimore Colts 16-7 with Richard Todd leading the charge on offense with field goals by Pat Leahy and Jim Turner along with a touchdown pass to Mickey Shuler. That was how it all started for the Jets, but they would go on to have even bigger and better days ahead of them.
The following year saw another victory as they beat the Cincinnati Bengals 37-0 for their first shutout win ever. Unfortunately, the next couple of years were not so kind to the Jets as they compiled records of 5-11 and 7-9, which caused Coach Lou Holtz to jettison his starting QB Richard Todd in favor of the young Ken O’Brien. The rest, as they say, is history.
Over the years, the Jets managed to make it to 4 AFC Championships during their time in New York (1985, 1998, 2009, and 2010) – all under Head Coach Rex Ryan. Even though they lost each one of them – twice to the San Diego Chargers (1986 and 2009), once to the Steelers (2010), and once to the Colts (1998) – there was no denying that this team had some serious grit.
The Jets were not only an integral part of New York life, but they were an important cog in America’s sports society. They were the team that fought for the greater good of all teams, not just one or two like most other professional sports leagues whose championship game is referred to as “The Super Bowl.” Instead, the Jets were competing in something that was referred to simply as “The Championship Game” until the NFL came along. After that, all of America was rooting for the Jets to win it all – or mostly everyone, anyway.
Every year, hundreds of thousands show up at the stadium on game day to cheer on their beloved team. I can still remember my dad standing in our living room, sporting his Joe Klecko jersey and screaming at the top of his lungs for his team to hit harder. I can still recall him draping that jersey over our TV set when we would watch games on TV and telling me that that was how he felt whenever he watched the games.
Football is not just a game in New York, it’s a way of life, and for that reason and many others, I love the New York Jets.