At this time, on any given year, I am usually bouncing off the walls with excitement. I love the summer, I love baseball season, I love the beach. But nothing compares to the start of the NFL season.
At least, I usually feel that way.
I make no effort in hiding it. I am a New York Jets fan. I wear my misery proudly on my sleeve. I live and die with this team. I am a fanatic. I use the term “we” when talking about “my” team. Every single year, no matter what, I cannot get enough Jets coverage.
Three years ago, I sat in the studio of ESPN Radio and watched Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan win their first career game together. The team looked good. Blitzes got to Matt Schaub. The offense controlled the ball on the ground. Sanchez completed big pass after big pass to keep the Texans off the field. And throughout the first game of the new Rex regime, I kept entertaining the same thought, “this is the most likable team I’ve seen in a while.”
My, how quickly things change.
I now sit here, miserable. Yes, I can’t wait to watch football. Yes, I choose my cable provider based on the availability of the NFL Redzone Channel. Yes, I tried (and failed) to schedule my daughter’s Christening around the Jets’ bye week. But still, I’ve never had this feeling before.
I am dreading this season for the Jets.
It mainly boils down to one main theme for the 2012 New York Jets: uncertainty. I have no idea what to expect from this team because I think they don’t know what to expect. Is Mark Sanchez – the clear-cut starting quarterback with a backup who can’t throw the football – going to start 16 games? Do the Jets want to start Tim Tebow? Is this team any good?
How could I answer any of those questions? How could anyone? The Jets themselves can’t figure out what they want to do!
My only saving grace is that talent may win out. The hope that the players on the Jets will outmatch the players on the other team. But…where are those players on the Jets?
This has been my fear since week 16 of last season. Disaster is imminent. I feel like I am tied to the track and the train is coming, and I’ve been yelling about this for years and just now, Rex and company are turning around to see our impending doom. It is too late. You can’t untie the rope fast enough.
I expect this season to be a train wreck. I actually don’t know (yet) how many games I think they will win, and it might be surprisingly more than I want to concede. But this time, winning won’t solve everything. This team has widespread problems that wins have only covered up temporarily. That can’t continue much longer.
The saddest part about this realization is the transformation I have undergone. I am 26 years old. Except for a brief stint with the Cowboys as a young boy, I have never known anything besides the misery that goes along with being a Jets fan. Still, I remained an optimistic (yet, always realistic) fan. “Our time will come.” “We have to go through these years so we can appreciate when we do win.” “I can sacrifice the ’05 and ’07 seasons so we can rebuild.” All of these rationalizations I have made with myself.
Throughout my inner voices, usually Oliver, talking me off my metaphorical ledge, there have always been whispers from the older Jets fans. “40 years, and I’m still waiting.” “I’m starting to think I will never see a Jets Super Bowl in my lifetime.” “You’re young, save yourself, get out now.” “Please don’t do this to your child.”Maybe 25 was the limit, because I have crossed the line. I am now one of them.
I have become a bitter, disgusted, angry Jets fan.
There are a million contributing factors to my metamorphosis, but none of them matter at this point. The change is complete. I have gone from a beautiful butterfly to an ugly caterpillar and joined the masses. I dread this upcoming season for the New York Jets. I have searched for ways to find confidence but I have failed. I finally understand all the warnings that I failed to heed. I have now experienced the feeling of unconditional love and hate at the same time. I love the New York Jets. But I hate them just as much.
I am, now, a Jets fan.