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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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I J-U-S-T Don't Get the J-E-T-S

How do Jets fans stand being Jets fans?

I’ve been a supporter of the Jets from a relatively safe distance since 1978. I won’t call myself a Jets fan in the sense that I’m a Mets fan, but I like them as a rule. I root for them against all outlanders always and even versus the Giants when it feels like the right and neighborly thing to do. I’ve been energized during their brief spurts of momentum and brought down hard on their many occasions of disappointment. They have been, if you’ll pardon the football pun, more than a passing fancy of mine for the past thirty years.

But how do Jets fans stand being Jets fans? The Jets are intolerable these days, even as a diversion. It must be hell if you take them seriously as death. How can you? How can you stand them? Let’s put aside, if you can, the “because I am…” explanation. I understand that one. That’s our currency here. But honestly, I no longer get it where the Jets are concerned.

The Jets on Sunday in Seattle were a) atrocious and b) typical. Even as someone who only dabbles in them, I was reminded of and left reeling from at least five different horrible Jet seasons while this game unfolded. This whole trip from 8-3 to 9-6 has been one long Flashback Sunday, little of it good. Even the friendly bounce Buffalo handed them a week ago felt phony, like a setup.

When the governor calls the Jets to offer a reprieve, the Jets have to put him on hold for call-waiting. On the other line is the lieutenant governor, reporting that the governor just had to resign in scandal and, oh by the way, I, the new governor, am not going to sign that reprieve after all.

Traditionally lousy teams and hopelessly lousy organizations populate the NFL. The Detroit Lions are 0-15 and a metaphor for the American car industry. The Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals are taking the briefest respite from their legacy of schlumpiness. You know no matter what happens for them in January they will be back schlumping it up next fall (and that nothing good is going to happen to them this January). The Kansas City Chiefs are only one year younger on the Super Bowl waiting list than the Jets and have made the least of myriad playoff appearances in the past quarter-century.

It’s not just that the Jets don’t win or go to a Super Bowl. It’s not that the Jets have won only two division titles since the merger. It’s not that the Jets have regularly edged near playoff spots they couldn’t possibly lose and lost them. It’s not the bottom line, it really isn’t. It’s not even, necessarily, the bad form they demonstrate at those junctures when good form is so desperately in order.

It’s just…what is it with them? What’s their deal? Why do they exist? I can’t grasp it. They have reached, from what I can tell from my admittedly limited perspective, a state of utter pointlessness. I don’t see how anybody can garner any kind of purpose, never mind joy, from them. I’ve reached breaking points with the Mets many, many times. I can always, at base, fall back on the mere act of being a Mets fan transcending whatever’s going wrong at any given moment.

Does it work that way with the Jets? I’m asking, really. I root for them, and I don’t get them at all. I don’t get this coach. I don’t get this quarterback. I don’t get the way they put Long Island in their rearview mirror or play in New Jersey (old story, but I’ve never gotten that). I don’t get how anybody can love this team as a going concern, unless it’s all about tailgating. Again, this bafflement of mine does not stem from wins and losses. I nominally root to various extents for various teams in various sports that aren’t going to win anything substantial ever again (if they ever have), but I get them. I get the Nets. I get the Islanders. I don’t question their existence anyway. I question that of the Jets, not out of malice but out of genuine curiosity.

I thought I reached a breakthrough with them eight years ago. On the final Sunday of the 2000 season when they blew their surefire playoff berth in Baltimore while the Giants were clinching home-field advantage through the postseason, I found myself more distressed by the Jets than elated by the Giants…and I’d always considered myself a Giants fan first. Well, I thought, maybe not, maybe I’ve been a Jets fan deep down all this time. But it never really took. Eight years later, it was the second-to-last Sunday of the 2008 season and the scenario was similar: Giants clinched home-field and the Jets lost in Seattle, imperiling if not officially destroying their playoff chances. I’m not all that moved by the Giants’ win over Carolina — they have a bye in my mind after last February 3 no matter what happens to them — but beyond reflex disgust, all I’m feeling for the Jets is an inability to fathom their equity. I’ve been with them and definitively not against them for 31 mostly unrewarding seasons, but I find it impossible to get them.

How in the name of every team that used to call Shea Stadium its permanent home do you guys do it?

24 comments to I J-U-S-T Don't Get the J-E-T-S

  • Anonymous

    Now Greg, its the Giants you should be concerning yourself with!
    So turn away from the Jets -and just walk away!! You don't need the misery..
    Rich

  • Anonymous

    I don't get how anybody can love this team as a going concern, unless it's all about tailgating.
    Don't underestimate the value of the tailgating.
    And it's not like it's baseball – it doesn't matter in the same kind of way.

  • Anonymous

    Greg,
    You don't know what a relief it is that I'm not a Mets/Jets fan as I'd have stuck my head in the oven by now
    GO BIG BLUE!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Despite being a fan of Brett Favre and the Jets, I haven't been following them much from France. I got back yesterday for Christmas to see that. Welcome home. Whew. At least they're not the Knicks.

  • Anonymous

    To me, I agree. It doesn't matter in the same way. My bro in law who is a die hard Jet fan , however, rooted for the Pats instaead of the Gianst in the Super Bowl, which I get, I think..I could never root for the yankees in the WS scenario.
    I find myself not really caring either way if the Giants win. As for being a Met/Jet fan, let's just say it has a lot to do with growing up on LI and that's who you rooted for. As jet fan, you ALWAys had a back up team (my team was/is the Steelers), cause the Jets NEVER made the playoffs.

  • Anonymous

    Foot-ball?

  • Anonymous

    Greg:
    Your instincts are correct. It's no coincidence that those who root for the Giants tend to be, by and large, fans of the other baseball franchise in New York. You can sense the same smugness during any Giants broadcast.
    I am 43 years of age, too young to remember the glory of Super Bowl III, which took place when I was also III years old. I have known nothing but false hope and bitter disappointment. Namath's knees, Todd's interception, 10-1/0-5, Fourth and 23, 10 points up in the 2d half in Denver, Vinny's hammy, missing chip shots in Pittsburgh, And for the rest of my life, they will play “home games” in another team's stadium. I wish it were within my power to divorce this rotten organization. All we can hope for is that they will divest themselves of their washed-up narcissist quarterback and their overmatched, overrated coach and start from scratch AGAIN.
    As miserable and frustrating as the end of the last 3 Mets seasons have been, they are a respite from the ongoing litany of failure of the Jets, related to the Mets by birth and by Shea.

  • Anonymous

    This is why this Mets fan has been a Cowboy fan as long as he's been a Mets fan….

  • Anonymous

    Many years ago when the Giants cut the great Phil Simms in an M.Donald Grant-level display of stupidity I soured on them, and football in general. Occasionally watching games dispassionately has since served me well. It's like a Padres/Angels World Weries: with no emotional investment I can relax, enjoy the games, not really care who wins, and go to the mall or watch Desperate Housewives instead.

  • Anonymous

    Mets lose to the Nationals and Marlins. Jets lose to the Seahawks, Raiders, 49ers. Isn't it still the same choking, this team by a team in green, rather than blue and orange?

  • Anonymous

    Like I've told you on many occasions, the Jets are just the Mets in shoulder pads. We do it for the same reason we put up with the Mets… we don't know how NOT to. Stockholm Syndrome, I guess?
    But every Sunday, I wonder how the heck I go through year after year as a Jets and Mets fan without falling on my sword. They truly drive me out of my freakin' mind.

  • Anonymous

    Glad to see that I'm not the only one! Let's hope that they get past the hated Eagles this weekend.

  • Anonymous

    Except for that one glorious day in January of 1969, being a Jets fan has meant little more than pain and misery. One's rooting interests are rarely rational, so I'm stuck being a fan of “the trifecta of suffering,” a.k.a. the Mets, the Jets and the Islanders. Woe is me.
    My “2nd team” was always the Packers, but they stink too this year, so I am resigning myself to having to root for Chad and his Brothers in Teal. I don't hate the Giants, and I did root for them against Bellicheat's boys last year, but I will not abandon Chad just because Tannenbaum and Mangini did. I'm going to need a long, hot shower after pulling for the Dolphins, but it's better than rooting for the Patsies or the Cowgirls.

  • Anonymous

    Amen, sister. I too never abandoned Chad for a second, and will be lodging a protest root on Sunday for the *shudder* Dolphins, resplendent in my Pennington jersey. Never shoulda happened.
    (I think we'll need some lye soap with that scalding shower…)

  • Anonymous

    I have my Pennington jersey ready to go too. It's the road white jersey — appropriate, no? All season long, I've been going to the local watering hole to watch games with my friend the Dolphins' fan. Luckily, she's not a gloater, so it'll be easier for me to cope with the loss.
    C-H-A-D CHAD CHAD CHAD!

  • Anonymous

    It is a myth that Mets fans = Jets fans. The Giants went thru their desert period a la the Mets (1986 was only eclipsed by the end-of-the-world win against the Pats) so Mets = Jints is just as valid. BTW, take a look at the partnership of Yankmees/Cowboys. Now there is the true Axis of Evil.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe Notre Dame can work their way in there to form the trifecta of sanctimonious fan douchebaggery.

  • Anonymous

    When people ask me which football team I'm a fan of I tell them I root for the Jets as long as it's not too painful. This looked like a year when it woujld be fun to root for them, and for much of the year it was. Then “we” beat New England and Tennessee, cruising for the division title and a shot a bye. Then “they” blew three of the next four, and only one the fourth because the Bills are fated not to win a division game this year.
    I will watch the game this Sunday against the Dolphins, but in a detached, disinterested way. I have long known that my rooting and caring for the team has a negative effect on their performance. Jets fans can thank me later.

  • Anonymous

    Raise a cold one for me… I'll be there in spirit. :-)

  • Anonymous

    When people ask me if I'm a football fan, I tell them “not really… I like the Jets.” What the Jets play can rarely be described as “football.” It's more like “a hideous, humiliating shambles.” And yet… *sigh*
    When we beat the Titans, I knew the house of cards was about to come tumbling down, and predicted 8-8. Stupid Bills.

  • Anonymous

    I live in Florida now, and when my Dolphin-fan friend and I walk into the bar (we're not in Miami, so the Dolphins are not the home team), people always ask me what team I root for, and I say “Jets — someone has to.” I've always found that it's better to laugh than to cry, so I just cut their snide comments off at the pass with humor.
    Last week at that bar, I saw 2 young men (young = practically jailbait!) wearing Pennington jerseys in that hideous Dolphin orange. Just nasty stuff. Green and white are a much nicer color combination. My Testaverde jersey (somewhere in storage) is home green. I may love sports, but I'm still a girl. ;-)

  • Anonymous

    I shall. It's a comfort to know that other people are suffering along with me. Misery does love company.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like the Cowboys' collapse was about as dramatic as the Jets'.

  • [...] of something besides despair, here’s hoping the Jets, whose weather usually involves a very dark cloud, shine on in East Rutherford next week. I assume my dad ill be into it. He drifted from the Giants [...]