Interested in rooting for one of the NFL's 32 teams -- but don't know where to start? Adam Rank has you covered with this series, which will present a handy guide to becoming an instantly rabid fan of each organization in the league. Below, find out why you should root for the New York Jets.
What you need to know so you don't sound stupid
Two moments of time encapsulate the New York Jets franchise perfectly. I know where your mind is going, but please bear with me, because there is a point to all of this.
First, there's Joe Namath running off the field like a boss after the Jets defeated the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. The win was guaranteed by Namath, and the moment was so meaningful, one of the conference rooms here at NFL.com is named after it. You've probably heard about how this was one of the biggest victories in NFL history because it legitimized the AFL. It might seem like hyperbole, but you don't realize just how salty the old guard of the NFL was.
Steve Sabol -- one of the most iconic men in NFL history and an all-around great guy -- admitted he only focused on positive Colts highlights in the Super Bowl III recap, creating the narrative that Johnny Unitas was going to come off the bench to rally the Colts (he wasn't). Sabol called it a disaster.
This really was a big deal. And the Jets were on top of the football world at that point, where they stayed for a few years. Since then, it's been a bit of a downhill slide.
Again, you know this is coming, but here's the moment that captures, oh, about the last 40 years:
I know it's hacky. I know Jets fans are likely triggered. Why do you have to show that play? Trust me, this isn't for comedy's sake. (Well, maybe it is a little.) There really are a lot of layers to dig through. You have quarterback Mark Sanchez (who I'm a big fan of) making the gaffe of a lifetime, which illustrates the troubles the Jets have had trying to land a franchise signal caller since Namath retired. The game was in prime time (on THANKSGIVING, to be exact) on NBC. Which shows that even though this team has not won a Super Bowl in decades, it is still under the white-hot spotlight of playing in the Big Apple.
The game was also against the Patriots, which, quite frankly, is a factor that merits its own study. For starters, you had Jets coach Rex Ryan, who, upon taking the gig in 2009, said he wasn't there to kiss the rings of Bill Belichick. Ryan even had some early success against the Patriots, besting New England in a 2010 AFC Divisional Round playoff game. But that was like beating John Cena on RAW or a minor PPV. Eventually, Cena is going to not only go over on you, but end up burying you in a pile of metal folding chairs in embarrassing fashion.
The Belichick stuff is especially galling because he was actually the coach of the team for a day in 2000. But then he wrote an awkward Dear John resignation letter to the team on a napkin, the kind of thing you'd leave on a dresser after a late-night rendezvous, not really befitting an NFL head coach. And then there was the follow-up Belichick press conference, which seemed awkward at the time, although now it's clear that it was just basically every Belichick press conference ever.
Where are the Jets heading now? Some observers are already looking toward the possibility that New York lands the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. And that might seem to be on the horizon, given the release of Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Ryan Clady, Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis. The only high-priced veteran left is G.O.A.T. Matt Forte. (And I swear to all things holy, Jets -- if a contender loses a running back and you don't trade him to that team, I will never forgive you. In fact, you could just trade him to, like, the Bucs right now.)
But let's think about this. So the Jets lost some high-priced names. But did they really lose out, talent-wise? Why keep those guys around if doing so will prevent some of their youngsters from developing? As a fantasy geek, I'm kind of intrigued by the team's receiving corps. Quincy Enunwa played well last year; now he's going to have a chance to prove he can be a WR1 in the NFL. Robby Anderson showed flashes. And I really believe ArDarius Stewart can be a touchdown machine in the vein of Anquan Boldin.
Still, though, I don't buy all of the noise that this will be the worst team in the league. The Jets won five games last year. They aren't worse.
In fact, this Adams guy looks pretty promising ...
I tell you, I wouldn't even read mock drafts that had the Bears drafting anybody other than Jamal Adams. But he fell to the Jets, though the coaching staff never believed in 100 years that he would get to them. There was even a story that the Jets administration told him not to come to New York, because he was never going to last that long, which kind of seemed like a weird reverse jinx or something. Like the guy who walks up to a beautiful woman and says, "I know there is no way you'd go out with me," before asking her out.
Speaking of the draft ...
One of the downsides of the NFL draft becoming a traveling road show is that we don't have as many Jets fans in attendance.
A couple of takeaways: They were about to boo the selection of Dan Marino. Some shout "Nooooo!" at the mere mention of a quarterback. But they did want to pick Warren Sapp. The Jets took Kyle Brady instead. Oops.
I can only imagine they would have booed the selection of Orlando Pace, too. Thankfully, that pick was sent away to St. Louis, and you didn't have to deal with that.
Don't ever talk about ...
Ultimately, though, I think it has to be the Dan Marino fake spike. Not only is Marino punking your team pretty painfully, but he provided a constant reminder for close to two decades that your squad took Ken O'Brien over him in the 1983 NFL Draft. (And look, O'Brien wasn't that bad. But Marino is Marino.)
No shortage of celebrity fans
The Jets haven't been good in a while, but they still hold a lot of star power. Adam Sandler manages to wedge Jets references into all of his movies, the most notable being when Dan Marino wants to sell his soul to the devil in "Little Nicky," only to learn that Satan is a Jets fan (this might very well be the case). Denzel Washington, Kevin James and Ray Romano are also Jets fans.
The biggest name, of course, might just be Larry David. Although, poop, Sandler is pretty big. But you know what, I'm going to say David should be your leader in the clubhouse, especially with the announcement this week of Season 9 of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," which might also be a great maxim for life as a Jets fan. (I already hate myself for going with that low-level AM radio joke.)
J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!
Not enough credit
Curtis Martin never gets the love he deserves. I know, I know; he's in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And I get that. I really do. But when you hear people talking about some of the best running backs of all time, does Martin ever get mentioned? Like, ever? He should. I'll never forget this: In 2004, Martin was 31 years old and coming off a season in which he had 323 carries (not to mention 42 receptions), and everybody thought he was done. (By everyone, I mean, fantasy dorks.) Martin led the NFL with 371 attempts and 1,697 yards in addition to scoring 12 touchdowns. It was incredible. Think of all the dudes who fall off a cliff at age 30. And Martin was out there killing it.
The franchise's best, Non-Joe Namath Division
One thing that always annoyed me when I was a kid was that the Jets always had a retired No. 13 jersey on the sidelines. And it bugged me because I was like, "Wait, wasn't Joe Namath No. 12?" He was. The jersey belongs to Don Maynard, the first player to ever sign with the Titans/Jets back in 1960 (after a one-year stint with the Football Giants). He's the club's all-time leading receiver and even led the league with 14 TD catches in 1965.
One more thing
Anybody who thinks Joe Namath is overrated. Namath threw a lot of interceptions, whatevs. But dude threw for 4,007 yards in 1967. I know that it doesn't seem like much when Matthew Stafford shoots out 4,000-yard seasons like they're nothing. But Namath was close to 700 yards better than the next competitor in the AFL, John Hadl of the San Diego Chargers.
I'm going with Joe Klecko's No. 73. I know Mark Gastineau was the most-famed member of the New York Sack Exchange, with his sack dance and the engagement to the girl from "Rocky IV" who fell in love with Flavor Flav on a reality TV show. But Klecko was the much better football player, according to older Jets fans. Though I somehow feel this is a hipster thing to say, much like the way I like to now refer to the temperature in Celsius. Also, Klecko was in this '80s classic my parents made me watch, "The Cannonball Run," which was pretty incredible.
The life of a Jets fan is not an easy one. The franchise no doubt has left an indelible mark on NFL history, one that can't be taken away. But most Jets fans weren't even alive for those glory days. Their heyday was the Rex Ryan-Mark Sanchez era, which did at least offer some hope for the future. I believe most Jets fans would just love to one day experience what a Super Bowl is like with their fathers, instead of seeing continuous highlights of Namath and the Butt Fumble.
Listen, I can recommend a lot of things, but being a Jets fan? I'm not sure I can do that. And not because the Jets are bad or anything like that. I just wouldn't feel great if I said, "Hey, Jarrod from Brisbane, you should root for the Jets," and then they win a Super Bowl in the next two years. Suddenly, Dan from Secaucus is enraged, because he's suffered through years of Pete Carroll, Gastineau's roughing the passer against the Browns, Bubby Brister, Herman Edwards' "You play to win the game" and Tim Tebow (oh, that's right, the Jets also had Tim Tebow on their team -- traded for him, even), and here Jarrod from Brisbane is, knowing only good things in his life as a Jets fan. So I'm sorry, Jarrod. You might have to look elsewhere.