Same Old Jets Advance to AFC Title Game…Again!

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 1/18/11

Just End The Suffering.

The always-candid Head Coach of the New York Jets stood at the podium Sunday night in Foxborough, MA.  His team had just knocked off the top-seeded New England Patriots 28-21, earning them a spot in the AFC Championship Game for the second consecutive season.  Rex Ryan looked out at the throng of reporters before him and punctuated the evening with his usual bravado, giving positive meaning to a phrase once dripping with negativity.

Sanchez Celebrates in Foxborough, Now 1 Win From the Super Bowl.

“Same old Jets,” he said, “Back to the AFC Championship Game.  The only difference is, this time we plan on winning.”

It’s rare in sports that a team gets a shot at a do-over, but that’s exactly what awaits Gang Green this Sunday in Pittsburgh.  Just twelve months removed from their last shot at an AFC crown, the Jets defied the odds, backed up all the talk, and are once again just sixty minutes away from the Super Bowl.

It’s only the fourth time in their, at times, tortured past, that the Jets have advanced this deep into the playoffs.  They have only won the Conference Championship once, the same season they won their only Super Bowl, in January 1969.

That year, the legendary Joe Namath guaranteed they would win the Super Bowl, Ryan has repeatedly predicted the same outcome for this year’s squad.  Is there any reason to doubt him anymore?

In two seasons with the Jets, Ryan has transformed the culture within the organization and the mindset of its fan base.  His confidence is contagious, his personality is infectious.  He has delivered on every single thing he has promised to date, except one thing – a Super Bowl.

He can take another step towards cashing that check on Sunday at frosty Heinz Field.  It’s something this team shouldn’t take lightly, despite their overwhelming confidence.  Though it only took them one season to get back to the Title Game, there is no assurance they will ever return again.  Plus, with labor unrest, and a potential work stoppage in 2011, now is the time for Ryan to end the misery and capture the team’s first Lombardi Trophy in 42 years.

In order to get to Dallas, home of Super Bowl XLV,  the Jets will have to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh for the second time in a month.  It’s a tall task, but it’s a game they must win.  There are no moral victories for just getting back to the Title Game – not when your mission statement is a Super Bowl victory or bust.

Make no mistake about it, defeating the Patriots on Sunday was a great accomplishment, but there is no relief for Jets fans.  That won’t come until Mark Sanchez is picking green and white confetti out of his curly mane.

Back in August, during the first episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks, Ryan announced their goal in 2010 was to win the Super Bowl.  He then famously bellowed, “I want to lead the league in wins.”  Two more victories would accomplish both goals, a Title and a 15-5 overall record – good for most wins in the NFL this year.

Before then, the Same Old Jets are headed back to the AFC Championship Game.  The only difference is, this time they plan on winning.

It’s been 42 years in the making.  Get it done.

Just End The Suffering.

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Like Namath, Rex Ryan Intends To Keep His Promise

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 1/12/11

Joe Namath once guaranteed Super Bowl triumph, and delivered.

Rex Ryan pledged the same thing two years ago.  His quest continues Sunday in Foxboro against the Patriots in their AFC Divisional Playoff Game.

Rex Ryan Looks To Deliver a Title for the Jets

Forty-two years ago today, January 12, 1969, “Joe Willie” made good on his promise, defeating the Baltimore Colts16-7 in Super Bowl III.  Not since then have the Jets had a personality quite as colorful or brash.

Since his arrival in New York, prior to the 2009 season, Rex Ryan hasn’t been coy with his intentions.  He doesn’t just want to win a Super Bowl.  He plans on it.

During his introductory press conference, he assured Jets Nation of a pending trip to the White House following a title run.  This summer, he even hand signed an ESPN Tour Bus with an inscription of, “Soon to be Champs.” Ryan is ultra-confident and doesn’t care who he offends.

“I’m not apologizing,” he said this past August.  “I just know what’s going to happen.  My crystal ball, I’m seeing a Super Bowl trophy in there.  I could be wrong, but that’s what I see.  But every time I go to work, that’s what I look at.”

Ryan can thank Namath for the trophy he ogles over each day in Florham Park.  For forty-two years, that Lombardi Trophy has stood alone.  Ryan insists he is the green & white Messiah to add another to the collection.

He faces, perhaps, his biggest challenge this weekend.  Coming off of an embarrassing 45-3 Monday Night Football thrashing last month, Ryan knows this rematch with New England will not be easy.  However, he’ll tell anyone who will listen of his plans to pull off the upset and even out-coach the former HC of the NYJ, Bill Belichick.

His bluster might seem dumb, or even reckless on the surface, but Rex Haters must understand one thing:  he just doesn’t spew anything without purpose.

Right or wrong, and always controversial, Rex Ryan takes calculated risks with each bold statement he dangles to the media.  His intentions are almost always targeted at taking pressure off his players and coaches, and putting it squarely on his own shoulders.

It’s hard to argue with the results.  In two years, Ryan has posted an impressive 20-12 regular season record, made an appearance in the AFC Championship Game, and won a total of 3 playoff games (so far), more than any other Jets Head Coach in history.

Love him or hate him, Rex Ryan delivers.  If he can pull three more victories out of his Jets cap this year, and make good on his promise, he’ll own New York.

Just like “Joe Willie” did, forty-two years ago today.

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Jokers? Or Do Jets Have Ace Up Sleeve?

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 1/5/11

The New York Jets pushed all their chips to the center of the table this season.

It’s time for them to show their hand.

One year ago, a 5th seeded, 9-7 Jets team was playing with house money, only thirty minutes away from the Super Bowl.  Unable to protect a halftime lead, against the Colts, in the AFC Championship Game, the Jets were sent home to ponder what might have been and begin preparation for another run in 2010.

Mark Sanchez & The Jets Face The Colts This Saturday Night.

Ever since the blue and white confetti rained on their parade in Indianapolis last January, the Jets have done whatever it takes to get another shot in 2010.  With nothing in the NFL guaranteed, and a win-now mentality, the Jets decided to go all in.

For twelve months, Head Coach, Rex Ryan, told anyone who would listen about their pending Super Bowl plans.  He insisted his talented roster was better than the other 31 clubs.  Now it’s time to ante up.

Viewed as a bunch of jokers by others around the league, they solidified their secondary with aces like Antonio Cromartie and Brodney Poole, upgraded their pass rush with Jason Taylor, and added offensive sparks like Santonio Holmes and Ladianian Tomlinson.

With a bulls-eye on their backs, the team appeared on HBO’s Hard Knocks all summer long, and made headlines as often for their off-field shenanigans as they did for their on-field play this season.  At times, their performance in both places was not for the faint of heart.

Despite the drama, and non-stop chattiness, the rollercoaster ride netted them an impressive 11-5 record during the regular season – this time, good for a 6-seed in the AFC tournament, and the tall task of winning three straight road games to reach Super Bowl XLV.

Fittingly, the Jets open up the playoffs in the same place their last hand folded, Lucas Oil Stadium, against Indianapolis, the defending AFC king.  They will get the rematch they so greatly desired.  Will they be able to hold’em this time?

The Jets are going to have to get through a Murderer’s Row of quarterbacks: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and, more than likely, Ben Roethlisberger in the AFC if they want a shot to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.  The Jets believe they have their own stud quarterback in Mark Sanchez.

The Jets must do whatever it takes to cash in on this latest opportunity.  With an aging roster and a potential work stoppage in 2011 there is no guarantee they will have this chance again.  Now is the time for these Jets.

It’s been 42 years since Joe Namath guaranteed a Super Bowl Victory.  Rex Ryan’s been guaranteeing one for two straight years now.

The chips are in the center of the table.

Time to show their hand.

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New York Jets Fans Thankful, Hopeful This Holiday Season

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 11/24/10

Jets fans, be thankful, not satisfied.

There is a lot for Jets fans to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.  Gang Green is sitting atop the NFL with an 8-2 record, 3-0 in the AFC East, and possesses a never-say-die attitude.  Their quarterback is proving to be a trustworthy leader, their wide receivers can single-handedly change the outcome of a game, and their head coach has the bravado to lead this team to their first Super Bowl since 1969.

Jets QB, Mark Sanchez, Has High Expectations

As the New York Jets get ready to face the Cincinnati Bengals on Thanksgiving night, there is certainly a lot for Jets fans to be thankful for, but now is not the time for complacency.

Two short seasons ago, the Jets took a similar 8-3 record into the final five weeks of the regular season.  They won only one of those contests, finishing 9-7 and out of the playoff picture.  Last year, a 9-7 record got them all the way to the AFC Championship Game in Indianapolis.  It was an unexpected journey that ended one game prematurely, a missed opportunity.

The National Football League can be sobering for teams enjoying success one season, and fall flat the next.  So many factors affect a team’s ability to win games – injuries, scheduling, weather, off-the-field distractions, etc.  There are no promises a team on the rise will continue ascending towards greatness.

Teams have to take advantage of every situation that presents itself. With nothing guaranteed in the future, the 2010 Jets have an opportunity to make history over the next 2 months…the pieces are all in place.

Not since Joe Namath waggled his finger in the air have the Jets had a quarterback with this much moxie, and this much confidence.  In his sophomore year, Mark Sanchez has earned his “Sanchize” nickname, along with the trust of his teammates and coaches to lead, rather than just manage the offense.

Surrounding Sanchez is a suddenly explosive offense with enough weapons to set off a metal detector.  Imported receivers Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards have been dominating for the Jets, carving up opposing defenses like a Thanksgiving turkey each week.  A two-pronged rushing attack, comprised of Shonn Greene and the legendary Ladainian Tomlinson, has been among the most effective in the league, running behind the most solid offensive line in football.

This holiday season, be thankful for the Jets’ aforementioned offensive talents.  Appreciate their consistently dominant defensive unit and confident head coach.  Be grateful for their last-minute heroics, week after week, producing the kind of heart-pounding adrenaline to snap anyone out of the deepest of tryptophan comas on Turkey Day.

But ask any player on that roster, and they will admit, they haven’t accomplished anything yet.  Players, along with long-suffering Jets fans, dream of the day when green and white confetti will rain from the sky, showering a newly-crowned World Champion Jets team.

The pieces are in place for 2010 to be that special season.  An 8-2 record after ten games is certainly something to be proud of, but don’t be satisfied.  An opportunity like the one that presents itself right now may never come around again.

If the Jets can capitalize, it would truly be something to be thankful for.

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Jets Fans Losing Patience with Revis

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 8/25/10

Revis Island is a lonely place these days.  Once a thriving, popular destination, the island has been evacuated, deserted by once loyal visitors dressed in green and white.

Has Darrelle Revis Alienated Himself From Jets Fans?

Over the past 24 days, the Darrelle Revis saga has taken a dramatic shift in the court of public opinion.  A stalemate that once saw Jets fans side with the disgruntled cornerback now has most rethinking their allegiance, choosing to favor the organization’s position instead.

It’s a surprising twist considering the Jets recent history regarding popular, and important, players looking for new contracts (see Pete Kendall & Leon Washington).  However, Revis’s perceived unwillingness to negotiate or compromise has left Jets fans frustrated with the NFL’s best corner.

They want one thing, and one thing only: a Super Bowl Title.  That’s it.  It’s been 42 long years without one for Gang Green and the 2010 season represents the organization’s best opportunity to change that.  Revis’s self-imposed absence from camp, and his demands to be the highest paid corner in the league, leaves Jets fans questioning his desire to win and labels him as a selfish, “me-first” player.

Darrelle Me-vis.

If a “media blackout” wasn’t in effect, Revis would be telling his side of the story.  He’d be preaching about his fear of injury without a guaranteed contract in place, and he’d point to the recently jettisoned Leon Washington as his “Exhibit A.”  He’d want everyone to know that the Jets were the ones to first approach him with plans for a re-worked contract, claiming he had out-played his existing deal (a pact he ironically held out to get as a rookie).  He’d also mention that his skills are far superior to those of Nnamdi Asomugha, the new salary standard for NFL corners, and the man Raiders’ owner, Al Davis, grossly overpaid to keep.

All valid points.

However, over the last 24 days, fans have not heard a peep out of Revis camp.  Instead, they’ve become more enchanted with the players actually in Jets camp, admiring their work ethic and determination on HBO’s Hard Knocks.  They’ve also watched two players with similar contract concerns,Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson, report to camp, work hard, and earn new deals “the right way.”

In addition, Jets fans have bought into Head Coach, Rex Ryan’s swagger, and truly believe this is a win-now team – with or without Darrelle Revis.

Revis is the best player on the Jets, though he is not bigger than the team.  But make no mistake about it, Jets fans: Gang Green is a better team with Number 24 on the field.  Period.  If this team, and tortured fan-base, have any aspirations of hoisting a Lombardi Trophy in February 2011, they are going to need Revis there to help.

For the time being, Revis Island remains dark.  Disillusioned fans have lost interest in his demands and chosen to support a team dedicated to winning rather than their money-hungry defensive star.

A deal will eventually get done, and when it does, Revis Island will, once again, open its gates.  The question remains, will Jets fans, once again, open their arms, welcoming back the team’s most dominating player?

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A Super Bowl in NY? Not Cool…FREEZING!

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 5/17/10

Super Bowl XLVIII or XLVIIIce Bowl?

The New York Jets and Giants are both lobbying to host the 2014 Super Bowl at the New Meadowlands, a brand new, 1.7 billion dollar facility set to open its doors in 2010.  The stadium has everything the NFL covets in a venue for their marquee event: it’s modern, has tons of luxury suites, is in a huge media market and is surrounded by a major city with unlimited entertainment opportunities.

New Meadowland Stadium

It does, however, lack one very important feature: a roof!

Topping 40 degrees on an average February day in New Jersey is a struggle, sort of like selling PSL’s to frustrated Jets and Giants fans in a poor economic climate.  Playing the most important game of the NFL season in less-than-ideal conditions would be a very real possibility should the game be played outdoors in the Northeast.

During last Wednesday’s Super Bowl “pep rally” in New Jersey, Jets Owner Woody Johnson snidely remarked: “We’ll be lucky if it snows!”

Lucky?  How so?

Snow would present some unique, and potentially dangerous challenges for those fans traveling to the game – leaving open the possibility of empty seats for the big game.  Plus, the NFL would be showcasing a compromised version of their product to the world.

While playing the Super Bowl in a cold weather city is nothing new –Minnesota and Detroit have each hosted Super Sunday under a dome – actually playing the game in those conditions without a roof would be without precedent.

Some have argued that the most legendary and memorable games in history have taken place in the cold weather.  Heck, the 1967 NFL Championship Game was nicknamed “The Ice Bowl.”  With a game-time temperature of -13 degrees and a wind-chill of -48 degrees, the Green Bay Packers hosted the Dallas Cowboys for the right to play in Super Bowl II.

True, this game was both exciting, and unforgettable, but there’s something else important to note about the contest.  It was a home gamethe Packers earned by finishing with a better record than the Cowboys.  The Packers went on to face the Raiders in the Super Bowl, played at a neutral sight, the Miami Orange Bowl – game-time temperature: 86 degrees.

Forcing two teams, who have battled all season long, to play the most important game of their lives on a neutral site, in potentially cold and dangerous weather conditions ignores the integrity of the game.  The rationale behind a neutral site has always been to provide an ideal venue to both teams, without any obstacles or advantages for either team.

With that said, if the NFL were to allow the team with the best record left standing to host the game, and that team happened to play in an outdoor, cold-weather stadium – so be it.  Luck of the draw.  As long as the Super Bowl site is a neutral one, it should be played in ideal conditions.

It’s also been suggested that the game of football is a sport tailor made for cold, snowy weather.  While there may be some truth to that, there is no need for the fans to endure such treacherous conditions.  The old Texas Stadium had it right: cover the fans and let the players play in the elements.  The Jets and Giants could have shown similar compassion for their soon-to-be wet, shivering fans when building their new home.

Instead, the New Meadowlands will open its doors this September, sans roof.  In four short years, they hope to host a Super Bowl there.  They will learn their fate following a May 25th NFL owners vote.  Both the Jets and Giants acknowledge that weather will be a factor in the decision, but it didn’t have to be this way.

Had they put a roof on their new football Mecca, this vote would be a slam dunk.  Speaking of dunks, they would also be a top candidate to host future NCAA tournaments.  Concerts, shows, speaking engagements, and conventions would also be the norm, year-round.  One would think, over time, the additional events would help generate enough added revenue to offset the cost of putting a dome on the building…right?

It’s a hypothetical question left dangling out in the cold, like the thousands of fans forced to sit in potentially snowy conditions.  When that happens, one can bet that Jets and Giants ownership will be warm and toasty, tucked away inside one of their new luxury suites, safe from the elements.

With comfy seats like that, no wonder Johnson thinks he “would be lucky if it snows.”

The average fan, trying to enjoy the game?  Not so lucky.

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Script Flipped on Jets in AFC Title Game

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 1/26/10

Mark Sanchez stood at the podium, his playoff beard finally gone, like the Jets hopes of winning Super Bowl XLIV.  His “Wonderboy” T-Shirt…no where in sight, replaced now with a blank, white one, perhaps symbolic of the clean slate the New York Jets will have the next time they take the field in 2010.

Head Coach Rex Ryan

All the big wins down the stretch, the top ranked defense and running game, the bluster…all just a memory now.  That’s the way it goes in the NFL.  One day you’re playing in the Conference Championship Game, only sixty minutes from Super Sunday, and the next thing you know, you’re staring at a blank page, pen in hand, script unwritten.

Unfortunately for authors like Sanchez, Head Coach, Rex Ryan, and the rest of the Jets organization, it’s often difficult to stick to any script in this league.  There are always so many variables, unforeseen injuries, salary cap calamities, unfavorable schedules, and inclement weather that could get in the way.

Opportunities like the one the Jets just had are rare in the NFL.  Bright futures can dim rather quickly.  Players age, become free agents, or retire, and windows propped open by hope and promise are humbly slammed shut with little notice.

The 2010 Jets should be favored to win their division, and contend for a place in Super Bowl XLV.  It’s exactly what awaited the 1999 Jets after losing to Denver in the AFC Title Game the year prior.  That team, devastated by a week one Achilles tendon injury to quarterback Vinny Testaverde, failed to reach their Super goal.  So have the ten Jets teams since.

It took eleven years to get back to where they were in January 1999 – a halftime lead in the AFC Championship Game, and only thirty minutes from the Super Bowl.  This year, like 1999, they failed to score in the second half as the Indianapolis Colts took the game 30-17, and punched their ticket to Miami at the Jets’ expense.

Make no mistake about it though, the Jets did not lose this game in “Same Old Jets” fashion.  They were beaten by the better team, with the better quarterback.  There is no shame in the way this latest Jets team played.  They were resilient, positive, had great team chemistry, and captured the imaginations of every fan that bleeds green and white.  Ryan made everyone a believer in 2009.

In his final team meeting of the season, Ryan told his players to “wear their Jets stuff and be proud of it.”  Why shouldn’t they?  Ryan has created a new culture within this organization, an environment that players can thrive in, and one that is enticing for prized free agents to come be a part of.

Though there is no assurance of anything in 2010 and beyond, the Jets appear to have all the pieces in place to succeed – in this unpredictable league, that’s the best any franchise can hope for.  Gang Green is set up with a young, star quarterback, a fiery, crafty head coach, a powerful defense and running game, and a brand new stadium – all components that any NFL author would salivate at the chance to write into the script.

There was no storybook ending this year, and there is no guarantee there ever will be.  But the future appears bright and Jets fans will have to wait at least one more season for the next chapter in Jets history to be written.

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Jets Fans: No Time To Just Settle, Be Super!

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 1/19/10

The “house money” is all spent.  Moral victories no longer exist.  No, that’s all over now.  Complacency expired with the clock in San Diego.

Jets 17, Chargers 14.

Mark Sanchez Turf Collage

Get greedy Jets fans.  Gang Green is in the final four.  They are about to play in a game the franchise has only seen on three other occasions, 1968, 1982, and 1998.  The New York Jets…say it with me…are going to the AFC Championship Game and are only 60 minutes away from Super Bowl XLIV.  Believe it.

With that said, every fan who bleeds green and white should be thinking big, thinking about getting two more victories and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy amid a green and white confetti rain.  Reaching the AFC Title Game is a great achievement…no doubt.  But don’t settle here.  Don’t be satisfied with just a “great” season.  Dream of a “Super” season.  It’s now within reach.

Opportunities like these are so rare.  Teams come so close, fall just short, and then prepare for a future that may never come.  One season a franchise makes it to the Championship Game, and the next season their balloon of hopes and dreams pop like their quarterback’s Achilles tendon in week one (see Vinny & the Jets circa 1999).

There are so many variables in the NFL.  Teams battle devastating injuries, unfavorable schedules, inclement weather, a salary cap, and have to peak at the right time just to have a shot at a January run.  There are no guarantees in the NFL…well…other than Joe Willie’s pledge prior to Super Bowl III.

Namath’s magic occurred a generation ago, the 2009 Jets are trying to exorcise the demons and do something that no Jets team has done since that unforgettable day in January 1969.

This is no longer just a feel good story.  The Jets are in way too deep for that.  An appearance in the AFC Championship Game officially qualifies as “serious business.”  It’s an opportunity that may never come around again.  The New York Jets head into Indianapolis to face Peyton Manning and the Colts on Sunday at 3:00 PM.  A trip to Miami, and a place in history hangs in the balance.

No time like the present.  No guarantees for the future.  No turning back now.

Get greedy Jets fans.

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Torch in Sanchez’s Hands Now

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 9/15/09

The torch has been passed.  Now, let’s see how far the kid can run with it.

Prior to making his first professional start, New York Jets rookie Quarterback, Mark Sanchez met up with the only man to ever lead the franchise to a Super Bowl – Joe Namath.  For over forty years now, long-time suffering Jets fans have savored Joe Willie’s performance in Super Bowl III, speaking glowingly about the iconic figure and his positive contribution to an otherwise abysmal team history.  Sunday at Reliant Stadium in Houston, TX, Namath informed Sanchez that it’s time to move on.

“…this isn’t about me anymore.  It’s about you,” he told Sanchez.

With that, a new era of New York Jets football began.  Jets 24, Texans 7.

Sanchez was confident and efficient, throwing for 272 yards including a 30-yard touchdown pass to Chanci Stuckey.  He was masterful under pressure, converting 10 of 18 third downs.  He exhibited great mobility in the pocket, and excellent decision making throughout.  Sanchez’s play, coupled with a pair of big runs from Thomas Jones, and Rex Ryan’s“Ravenous” defensive scheme, left Jets fans giddy at what the future might bring.  His quick start was reminiscent of the way another former New York rookie began his storied career.

Thirteen years ago, with similar poise and passion to what Sanchez displayed yesterday, Derek Jeter wrote the first chapter of his legendary career.  Now the all-time Yankees hits leader, Derek Jeter began his 1996 rookie season in Cleveland with a home run and a pair of dazzling plays at short stop.  The sky was the limit that day, and for over a decade, Jeter has been as good as advertised.

He further solidified his legacy on Friday night by passing Lou Gehrig’s hits total.  On Sunday, the fiery kid from SoCal began writing his own legacy, chasing Broadway Joe along the way.

One game into “Matinee” Mark’s career, he looks up for the challenge…even if it was only one game.

“It isn’t fair to anyone to judge a young quarterback after one game,” Namath said.  “Even if it was a really good game…what I saw was a kid who was ready.”

The kid was ready, and so are Jets fans.

In 1996, the Yankees, with a new manager (Torre) and a new leader(Jeter), built on chemistry carried over from the previous regime to capture the team’s first title in 18 years.  It’s been over forty years without a Jets Super Bowl victory.  Could a new coach (Ryan) and a new leader (Sanchez) do the trick for Gang Green too?  Jets faithful burn for another title run – time will tell if Sanchez can light that fire with his new torch.

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Easy to Forget the Real Super Bowl III Jets

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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