It must be extremely challenging to be a New York Jets fan, especially since most Jets fans are also New York Mets fans.
That is just way too much heartache for me.
Sure, I’m a huge Mets fan, but at least I have the New York Giants to root for. Though they’ve been up and down the past few years, the Giants have had their fair share of success as a franchise.
The Jets though … they’re a franchise that is a snakebitten, abject failure.
For the past six months, all we heard about was how the great Aaron Rodgers was the final piece the Jets needed to return to Super Bowl glory. That lasted a total of four offensive snaps.
Rodgers suffered a debilitating torn Achilles tendon on his left leg during the Jets’ season-opener on Monday Night Football. While Gang Green impressively rallied to win the game against the division-rival Buffalo Bills, Rodgers will miss the remainder of the season. Truly unreal.
It wasn’t too long ago that I polled some local diocesan Jets fans priests for their thoughts heading into the Rodgers era. It’s uncanny to think that the tune has shifted so abruptly — despite the opening victory.
Father Bill Sweeney, pastor of St. Francis de Sales, Belle Harbor, had just settled into his chair alongside his family members as Rodgers emphatically carried out the American flag through the tunnel in honor of Sept. 11. What a powerful scene.
“My family members were all there, and we were all psyched,” Father Sweeney said. “But then it was like they let the air out of the balloon. What I think it is is that Joe Namath made a deal with the devil.”
Father James Kuroly, rector principal of Cathedral Prep and Seminary, Elmhurst, and director of the diocese’s youth and young adult ministry, couldn’t tune in until the fourth quarter and was so confused when he saw Jets backup quarterback Zach Wilson in the game. A quick Google search let him know exactly what was going on with Rodgers.
“Even the most pessimistic Jets fan could not have made that one up,” Father Kuroly said.
For Father Pat West, pastor of St. Sebastian, Woodside, he likened the feelings of seeing Rodgers going down to the epic Mets collapses of 2007 and 2008. As a Mets, Jets, Rangers, and Knicks fan, he’s experienced plenty of despair.
“I’m not superstitious, but is it an omen?” Father West said. “I don’t know.”
Yet maybe there’s a lesson to be learned in all of this. In fact, the day after Rodgers’ injury, Father Kuroly spoke to his Cathedral Prep students to put things in perspective.
“We Jets fans had these great expectations and great goals,” he said. “We had this vision of the Super Bowl. And then four plays later, we get deflated.
“Such is life. Such is school. We have these goals at the beginning of the year. We’re going to get all these great marks. And then the first test or paper comes back, and it’s not what we hoped. We feel deflated, but remember, the Jets came back and won. It’s the hand that we have been dealt, and we must do the best we can with it.”
The good news here — in addition to the Week 1 win — is that Rodgers’ injury happened so early and not during a playoff push. There’s plenty of time for the Jets to establish themselves as a top team.
“If there’s any bright spot to this, it happened in the beginning of the season, and you can move on and adjust,” said Father West.
“I’m still cautiously optimistic,” Father Sweeney said. “I’m a Jets fan: I pray for the best and expect the worst.”
Even the most skilled, diabolic playwrights could not have written a more Jets-like script to open the 2023 NFL campaign. It’s a long year, so we’ll see what happens.
But this whole instance is just so iconic of the franchise’s long-standing catchphrase:
“The same old Jets!”