I always say pro football is the last sport I was introduced to. I gravitated to basketball, tennis, and bowling early on in life. I watched the first two on television, and participated in the latter competitively from the age of 5 through the age of 19 (I still bowl but more occasionally now). I won several trophies, participated in a few New York State tournaments, and if I took it seriously as some of my peers I might still be in the alleys shooting for glory. Anyway, I digress. The first football game I remember watching was Super Bowl XXV between the New York Giants and the Buffalo Bills. I was 9, but the only reason I was even watching the game was because my parents were at a dinner party and the TV was on to keep us kids quiet. I didn’t really seek out the NFL before. I barely was into the college game at that point, however after Scott Norwood’s epic missed field goal, I started getting in to professional football.
I still didn’t have a team though. I’d watch the Giants. I’d watch the Jets. I’d watch the Super Bowl but I had no team. I did have some Raiders gear around this time but that was more of a fashion statement. Who doesn’t like wearing black? So, I wandered the wilderness of fandom until a terrible 1-15 football team captured my attention. Yes, before the horror that was the 1996 NFL season I decided to cast my lot with the New York Jets.
Doing so meant following a team that hasn’t won anything since Super Bowl III back in 1969. Following a team that hasn’t won a thing in your almost 32 years on Planet Earth can be demoralizing experience. However, there I was back in 1996, a 14 year old high school sophomore ignoring his homework and focusing on a team that would eventually land the #1 overall pick and select University of Southern California wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson. I probably should have done my homework and left the damn Jets alone. Might have gotten me better grades in school, and avoid a few beatings.
So forgive me if I’m cynical. Forgive me if the season starts and I have no faith in the New York Jets. Forgive me if the Jets are currently 5-4 and I still don’t think they’ll make the playoffs. Why? I’m conditioned to expect failure. It’s the same reason I consider myself a Mets fan. I’m used to feeling like my team won’t win, while our closest competitors (the Giants and Yankees respectively) will always win. Why? God’s cruel trick I guess.
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