By Jason Klein
That’s how long it’s been since the New York Jets won a Super Bowl.
Hell, that’s how long it’s been since they even appeared in the big game.
Today marks the 50th Anniversary of Super Bowl III. January 12, 1969 is this team’s identity. It’s the defining moment in their franchise’s history and it happened 50 years ago today.
Imagine being best known for something you accomplished a half century ago.
When will the narrative change? Well, it’s been 22 years since their last, best chance. In 1997, after winning just 4 of their previous 32 games, the Jets hired the coach they thought could rescue them from irrelevance and completely change everything. This week, they did it again.
Tuna then. A Dolphin now.
There are a lot of similarities between what Bill Parcells faced in 1997 and what former Miami Head Coach, Adam Gase is about to take on.
Both inherited a floundering Jets franchise in desperate need of a new beginning.
Parcells’ rescue mission followed the team’s historically horrible two-year run from 1995-1996. He began the makeover in his second season by introducing new uniforms. He brought back a modern version of the team’s jerseys worn between 1964-1977, a tribute to that only Super Bowl team in franchise history.
Next, he added a ton of new players. Game-changing players. Names like Curtis Martin, Kevin Mawae, Keith Byars and Bryan Cox. They brought a new attitude and gave the team instant credibility.
Finally, he found a top-level Quarterback. Vinny Testaverde arrived, leading the Jets to a Division Title, a 12-4 record and a trip to the AFC Championship Game. Though they fell one win short of a Super Bowl appearance, the team had clearly turned a corner.
When Gase is introduced as the new HC of the NYJ on Monday afternoon, he’ll also inherit a team coming off a historically horrible run. Over the last three seasons, they’ve won just 14 of their previous 48 games.
Like Parcells, Gase will attempt to change the team’s identity.
New uniforms are coming this spring. With the third overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and close to $100M in cap space, Gase and GM Mike Maccagnan must find new, game-changing players like Parcells once did. Lucky for Gase, he’s already got the QB in Sam Darnold.
Both Parcells and Gase took over Jets teams at pivotal junctures in franchise history. They were both hired by questionable ownerships with limited football knowledge. Gase also takes on an angry, skeptical fanbase who is tired of losing, just as Parcells did.
Parcells was able to quickly flip the script and almost get that elusive second Lombardi Trophy for the Jets. Now Adam Gase has his chance.
“I’m excited about him coming,” said Joe Namath, the man under center 50 years ago today. “I believe he can do it.”
If he does, according to acting owner, Christopher Johnson, he’ll be a “Freaking Legend.” It’s been a freaking long time since this team had any real legends to celebrate.
Fifty years, to be exact.Follow @ByJasonKlein