J.ust E.mbrace T.he S.uffering

By MICHAEL FAIRLIE //

For as far back as I can remember, the New York Jets, in all of their green and white glory, have been a source of intense joy as well as one of extreme agony for me. Considering that there has not been a Jets Super Bowl victory during my time on this planet, it is hard to say that the excruciating moments of despair have not made a larger impact on my psyche then have the few fleeting flashes of triumph.

The train has derailed on countless occasions, yet still I continue to hop back on board the gang green express, as do so many others stuck in this inescapable quandary of torment that is the life of a Jets fan.

Indoctrinated as a fan of the New York Jets at some point in the late 1970’s, while my young life was still in its single digits, and my mind was still dangerously impressionable, I set forth on this long and arduous journey of football fandom.

I have many great memories from the team in the early to mid-80’s: The Sack Exchange; Wesley Walker and Al Toon; Ken O’Brien’s better games, including the 51-45 shootout with Daniel Constantine Marino Jr. in 1986.

The unfortunate thing is that some of my earliest memories are of the miserable AFC Championship Game (Mud Bowl) of ’83 as well as the preposterous personal foul by Mark Gastineau in OT of the ’87 AFC divisional playoff game against the Cleveland Browns.

Then, of course, those of us who have lived through the Jets of the early-to-mid 90’s are far too aware of what “Just End The Season” means. Rich Kotite, who comes across as more of a goofy cartoon-like character than an NFL Head Coach, was at the controls of the catastrophe that was one of the most miserable two-year stretches in franchise history (not counting their years as the Titans of the AFL).

The light at the end of the terrifying tunnel finally came into view when Leon Hess reached out to Hall of Fame legend Bill Parcells, bringing him aboard to right the ship in 1997. I have to admit, despite my cynicism as a long suffering Jets fan, that the team has been a formidable foe in most years since that time.

Parcells restored respectability into the floundering franchise and they have pretty much remained competitive in the majority of seasons since, although the ride has not been without its ups and downs. And unfortunately, without a Super Bowl victory to show, the bad has outweighed the good more often than not.

With that return to relevance came heightened expectations that have never fully been realized despite various regime changes and sprinkles of success. We have seen Herman Edwards, Eric Mangini and the raucous Rex Ryan come in and have some early success, further raising our hopes, that ultimately led to multiple brick walls, including heartbreaking losses in back-to-back AFC Championship games.

Basically, when it comes to our beloved New York Jets, the more things have changed, the more they have stayed the same. Rejuvenated by the bold moves of new General Manager Mike Maccagnan and the hard-nosed, yet personable coaching style of Todd Bowles, our optimism is once again high after a turnaround, 10-6 season.

But even after this uplifting season that saw a 6-win raise from 2014, it all came crashing down in Week 17 with a devastating loss to Rex Ryan’s Buffalo Bills, in a game that could have catapulted our Jets into a tournament with a group of beatable AFC opponents.

Oh well, the song remains the same as we face another offseason of enthusiastic anticipation, hoping that they obtain the proper ingredients to add to the mix, in order to propel these Jets to the next level. I can only hope that the curse, cast upon us ever since Joe Namath sold his soul to the devil for a victory in Super Bowl III, is only a myth, an urban legend that will dispelled with the raising of a Lombardi Trophy by the green and white.

Over 35 years that have ended in disappointment, some of which were filled from top to bottom with disappointment, and still I come back for more. By now, I have surely reached the definition of insanity in doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I guess that all of us Jets fans, regardless of how long you have personally been afflicted with this stigma, are insane by definition. So join me, aboard the Crazy Train, as we head towards new frontiers and hopefully greener pastures for our New York Jets.

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