I am a New York Jets fan. There, I said it!
It’s not something I go out of my way to tell people these days, or really any day ever. My support of the New York Jets is just who I am, like my blood type or love of pizza. It’s something that just can’t be changed. When people ask me what NFL team I root for, I solemnly state, “The Jets,” as if someone at a bar asked me what I wanted to drink, and I said, “Water.”
How did I become the self-effacing Jets fan I am today? Well, that’s why we’re here. To hold each other as Jets fans and have a good cry. Or you can just point at me and laugh.
I’m not exactly sure when I first became a Jets fan originally. I was about five or six years old. I don’t remember this, but there’s this picture floating around the family of me in a complete New York Jets sweatsuit. Yup, matching sweatshirt and sweatpants, as close to wearing Zumbas as a kid would come to in the 80s. I’m guessing that my uncle, another self-tortured Jets fans, got the outfit for me. No one else in my family would have, because we”re more of a baseball family, with a passing interest in at least seeing a good football game. So most of my relatives aren’t Jets fans.
I grew up with the label “Jets fan” because that is all I knew. I didn’t watch football, so being a Jets fan didn’t really mean anything to me. The only game I ever got around to watching was the Super Bowl and, since the Jets have never played in the Super Bowl during my lifetime, I never really watched a Jets game. I saw plenty of NFC teams win the Super Bowl, like the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, and New York Giants, but I didn’t become a fan of any of them. For some reason, I couldn’t stand the Cowboys, which should have probably made me lean toward the Giants, but it didn’t. Instead, I leaned toward another green team: the Philadelphia Eagles.
Looking back on it, I couldn’t even really call myself an Eagles fan. Sure, I got the Eagles Starter jacket back when Starter was all the rage, had an Eagles cap back when I actually wore caps and probably got enough Eagles paraphernalia to fill a chest of drawers. But I wasn’t really an Eagles fan; I was a Randall Cunningham fan. For some reason, I had a fan-crush on Cunningham because he was the first quarterback I saw that could run and throw the ball. I liked the idea of a QB having multiple talents. So I figured, being a fan of Cunningham made me a fan of the Eagles.
When Cunningham left Philadelphia for Minnesota, I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t going to trade in my Eagles junk for a bunch of Vikings junk. So I rode the idea of being an Eagles fan for a season until I made the decision to bring my fandom back home.
It just so happened that there was a team close to home that had a few hometown heroes. Well, home area; Long Island is a big place. The New York Jets had West Islip native Boomer Esiason at quarterback, fresh from his glory days with the Cincinnati Bengals. Boomer was also a lefty. I’m a lefty. The fandom just made sense.
Even as the Jets continued to play poorly, they kept getting players that were close enough to Long Island to keep me rooting for them. Journeyman quarterback Vinny Testaverde hailed from Brooklyn. Recent Hofstra University graduate Wayne Chrebet came up at wide receiver. It just made sense to be a Jets fan because of this. Not only was I rooting for a local team, but I was rooting for local guys.
The problem was, the Jets lost a lot with those local guys. Once in a while they’d make the playoffs, and sometimes they even got as far as the AFC Championship game. But by the end, it was all just more heartache.
But you know what? I wouldn’t trade my Jets for any other team. Why? Because I’m a Jets fan, and every year that they don’t win it all is just another reason to think that it’s going to happen eventually. And when it does, it will be glorious! That’s what being a fan is all about.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.