By Jason Klein
Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 8/26/09
The 1969 New York Jets were as smooth as Joe Namath’s flowing brown locks.
Forty years later, as the 2009 Jets prepare for opening day, that legendary club remains the signature team for an otherwise frustrating franchise. Everything went right that season for the green and white, the story is part of the fabric that makes up the NFL. Back in 1969, as everyone knows, the New York Jets tore through their schedule, dominated the competition, and then, in dramatic fashion…lost to the Kansas City Chiefsin the Divisional Round of the Playoffs?
No upset for the ages? No merging of the leagues? No guarantee?
No, actually, all of that happened the previous January during Super Bowl III, the culmination of the 1968 season. It was the 1968 team that overcame the odds and defeated the Baltimore Colts 16-7. That’s the club deserving of all the accolades so often misdirected towards the team from the 1969 season. Confused? Where did things get mixed up?
Every season, the NFL declares its champion during the Super Bowl – typically held in January (sometimes February) of the following calendar year. However, this scheduling snafu has rarely caused any confusion…except in the case of the often overlooked 1968 New York Jets.
For instance, the 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only team in NFL history to complete a perfect season. Yet, they won the Super Bowl played in January of 1973. At last check, no one has ever referred to the ’73 Dolphins as Perfect – that team lost in the Super Bowl to the Minnesota Vikings in January of 1974.
Every Giants fan lives by their 1986 and 1990 Championship teams – even though both of those title games were played in 1987 and 1991respectively.
Take it a step further: Slumdog Millionaire, deemed the top film of 2008, was crowned during the Academy Awards ceremony held in February of 2009 – the following year. Yet, years from now, film aficionados will refer to Slumdog as the Picture of the Year for 2008, not 2009.
So why are the 1968 Jets almost always referred to as the 1969 club? Ever see a 1968 Team Signed New York Jets helmet for sale, advertised as such?
It’s possible it has something to do with the symmetry of winning during the same calendar year as the ’69 Amazin’ Mets and ’69 Knicks. New York sports fans will always have a soft spot in their heart for that year of gluttonous winning – still no excuse for inaccuracy.
In 2008, the Jets wore a commemorative patch to honor the 40thAnniversary of the Super Bowl III team – mathematical recognition appropriate for the 1968 club, and further confirmation of the championship team’s true identity.
Regardless, forty years without a championship is a painfully long time to wait for such a devoted fan base. When Gang Green finally gets to hoist that Lombardi Trophy for the second time in franchise history, it will be a day, and a year, that no Jets fan will soon forget.
Make no mistake about it.
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