So I'm watching the Ravens-Jets game kick off Monday, and all I can think about is how much that Fireman Ed guy irritates me. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for high-energy fans decked out in costumes. I think they're great. What I don't like is the statement you always hear about these self-appointed "super fans" -- guys like this Ed fellow think they care more than you or I do.
If they didn't, why would they spend so much time and energy coaching us up? Let me show you how to care, when to care, how loud to care. What a bunch of self-aggrandizing tools, sporting oversized headgear that turns every seat behind them into an obstructed view as their needy little eyeballs dart from side to side to see if the red light is on the nearest TV camera.
I resent anyone who thinks they need to coach me about caring! In my experience, NFL football is one of the great events in life, where people don't need to be coaxed into expressing their passion. I might feel differently if Ed actually had any magic fairy dust, but let's face it -- dude has zero mojo, just like the Jets. Yes, they farted their way from a 9-7 season into the AFC Championship Game last year, but they got tons of breaks along the way, starting with Indy laying down in Week 16 and losing to the Jets.
No question Joe Namath and the green and white engineered what remains the biggest win in Super Bowl history, but in 41 subsequent years, the Jets have only mustered three trips to the conference championship! It's almost as if they won the game that highlighted the AFL-NFL merger, and the devil immediately called in the loan. Now along comes Rex Ryan talking trash and Super Bowls and a weird new team culture is born. I get it -- it's time to shake things up. You got a new stadium to fill, you're tired of playing second fiddle to the Giants, so you turn the big-mouth coach loose, sign up for "Hard Knocks," let him drop all the F-bombs he wants, it is pure entertainment.
The problem? Well, for starters you have pissed off every other team in the NFL, thereby turning your entire schedule into the emotional equivalent of a divisional grudge match. I mean, did you see the outrage and anger in that Ravens team? Get used to it.
Then there is the crushing pressure all this braggadocio has placed upon a raw second-year QB. One thing was crystal clear about Monday night's offensive game plan -- the Jets simply don't want to put the game in Mark Sanchez's hands. I don't want to overreact to Week 1, but hooo-weee, how you gonna win a division, let alone a Super Bowl, that way?!
It's too late to put the sound bite genie back in the bottle, and by the time last Monday rolled around you had an entire league and nation salivating at the prospect of the Jets laying an egg opening night after all that big talk. Mission accomplished, and the really funny part of the story is that many of those haters are New Yorkers.
That's the part of the deal that Ryan, as entertaining as he is, just doesn't get. I lived in NYC for more than a decade and I loved every minute of it. It is one of the great cities in the entire world, and truth be told, hating is part of the city's fabric. The song may say, "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere," but you haven't really made it in New York until you make it, then fall on your ass as the entire populace geysers schadenfreude.
Think about your iconic, ultra-public New York personalities… George Steinbrenner? Loved and loathed, but always much more fascinating to New Yorkers when his best-laid plans blew up. Donald Trump? Admired? Maybe, but he wasn't truly loved until he filed Chapter 11. Then he was savored, and why not? Dude figured out a way to go broke owning a casino. Twice. There's a first.
It comes with the territory in a tough, tough town where it can be a battle just to get across town, and nothing is handed to anybody. New York is the only American city with multiple newspapers that read like sub-tabloids, and they aren't selling sunshine and lollypops. Front pages are routinely devoted to catastrophe, humiliation, corruption and moral twilight. Ryan may not have known it at the time, but he teed up the sports section for record sales if he doesn't pull this off. This Jets season is boom or bust, and the local media is sharpening their cutlery.
Maybe during the bye week he can do a little film study on a beloved star who puts on a clinic on how to roll in the Big Apple -- Derek Jeter. The Captain delivers, he is the definition of cool, and he keeps his yapper shut. Genius.
Of course, if you were looking for a more immediate contrast in styles, all you had to do was keep your set tuned to the second game of Monday Night's double header.
You went from a New York halftime show featuring Green Day cavorting with the innocuously precious cast of their Broadway show (?!) to Train gamely belting out "Hey Soul Sister," sans chorus line, while being drenched by the driving rain at Arrowhead. You went from Fireman Ed's ineffective admonishments in New Jersey to a rabid K.C. crowd which, despite the monsoon, needed no one to coach them into generating 10 times the decibel level the Jets fans did. Meanwhile on the field, the completely unheralded Chiefs muscled out an upset of the playoff-caliber Chargers.