Running around to Give you the Reacharound
See you at the crossroads (the crossroads, the crossroads)
I blame this on my family never being Falcons fans. When I was a kid, my grandparents owned a small neighborhood grocery store in midtown that my dad and uncles also worked at from time to time. For over 25 years, beer vendors and other distributors peppered my family with Braves and Hawks tickets (not exactly a valuable commodity in those days). They attended hundreds of games over the years, and grew to love those teams, especially the Braves, during their lean years. To say my dad, uncles and grandfathers were captivated by the Braves' success in the 1990's would be a vast understatement.
However, for whatever reason, the swag dealers never hooked up my grandpops with Falcons tickets. No idea why. Still, he's a stubborn man, and because of this, dude has never liked the Falcons. Just doesn't care whether they win or lose. He passed this trait down to his sons, who likewise passed them down to me. I've never had much interest in watching the Falcons except during the Vick years, and Vick could have been playing for the fuckin' Lions and I would have watched him...so anyways, yeah. I've never really been a Falcons fan.
Needing a team, I adopted the Jets in the early-mid 90's for whatever reason. (Note: I think it was because I was born in New Jersey and hated the Giants at the time.) So I basically made myself a "Jets fan," got some Jets crap for Christmas, a Starter jacket when those were the shit, watched them whenever their games were televised in the ATL, and followed them like a transplanted fan. I never really felt the connection or interest-level with the Jets like I did with the Braves, Hawks or Dawgs, but they were still my favorite NFL team and I remember the devastation I felt in January of 1999 when the Jets were one shoddy VinnyT drive away from beating the Broncos in the AFC Championship, setting up a Falcons-Jets Super Bowl and the chance to annoy the shit out of everyone at school for a solid two weeks.
So yeah, the Jets are my team, I suppose. My thoughts on Brett Favre have been well documented in this space, so it was somewhat bittersweet to see the Jets presumably improve their QB play by acquiring one of my least favorite athletes. Also unfortunate was that the Favre trade meant the end of the Chad Pennington era at the Meadowlands. Pennington, whos arm strength has deteriorated in recent years, was always a solid QB, never too flashy or dominant, but much better than half the crap other teams were throwing out there. You rarely felt QB play was a huge liability to your team with Pennington back there...although admittedly that's probably because the Jets had so many liabilities elsewhere on the field during that time.
If you've been watching ESPN at all this week, you know the rest of the story. Pennington signed with the Dolphins, lost a nailbiter at home to Favre and the Jets in Week 1, presided over a steady 10-5 season while the Jets have been reeling in recent weeks. Enter this weekend's matchup for the division title in the Meadowlands. I'm not too bitter or aghast at Pennington's success vs. Favre's this season, mainly because I think both teams would have had similar results with either quarterback. Other than Favre's high INT total, which is a given, their numbers are remarkably similar.
I'll still be watching this game with a huge rooting interest in the Jets. I like Coach Mangini and think if he gets fired for taking this average-talent team to a 9-7 record in arguably the best division in football, the Jets' brass are idiots, or suffering from lil' brother syndrome in regards to their Meadowland mates.
(Aside: I'm really getting fed up with the short leash on coaches. Washington thinking of firing Jim Zorn after one season where he exceeded[!] expectations? Why not just give everyone a one-year contract and be done with it? You want to fire someone, look at Marvin Lewis yo.)
Still, as a Jets "fan," I won't be enormously devastated if they lose. Much like a real Jets booster, year after year since the Tuna has left, I have tempered expectations for this team. You tell me before the season that the Jets would have been 9-7 and playing for a playoff spot in Week 17, I'd take it. And if that does indeed happen, I'll be rooting for Chad Pennington to take advantage of the shitty hand he was dealt prior to this season and take the Dolphins deep into the playoffs. Yes, I admit my NFL rooting interests are fucked up.