(Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
The world will be watching the Patriots and Giants on Sunday in Super Bowl 46. What are Jets fans supposed to do?
Super Bowl XLVI is here. We can't avoid it, Jets fans.
Actually, we can. When Lawrence Tynes' field goal split the uprights in Frisco a week ago, that's what I, as a die-hard Gang Green fan (thanks, dad) thought to myself. This is going to be the first Super Bowl as a conscious human being that I won't watch. I'm going to the movies or something.
Monday of Super Bowl Week is upon us and I'm not sure yet if I'm going to go through with my boycott or not. I know for certain that it's a near-impossible game to watch as a Jets fan. Super Bowl 42, the Giants' monumental upset of the then-undefeated Patriots was a bit easier to stomach for Jets fans. I don't recall many Jets fans, if any at all, rooting for the Patriots to cap off the first unbeaten season since the '72 Dolphins, especially since Eric Mangini selling out his former boss in the Spygate scandal sent the Pats on the destroy-everything-in-its-path streak that brought them to the precipice of 19-0. If it took our city-rival Giants to knock them off? So be it, I guess.
Quick aside: I may have been one of the only Jets fans who wasn't exactly enamored with the fact that the Giants won that game. Here was my rationale: by about Week 14 or so when the Patriots were steamrolling the NFL, I had kind of made up my mind that the Pats were going undefeated and winning the Super Bowl. I had plenty of time to digest it so that when it happened, it wouldn't have really mattered all that much. And then when Plaxico Burress caught that pass in the end zone, I thought to myself "Now I have to hear about this from Giants fans the rest of my life." Couldn't it have been the Seattle Seahawks or someone to beat the Pats? So there's that. But I suppose it still would have been worse had the Pats went 19-0. I guess. (As you can see, I'm a fairly tormented Jet fan).
But this year isn't as clear cut. After the Giants won that Super Bowl, it kind of became a Jet town. I know, I know, the Giants WILL ALWAYS OWN NEW YORK YOU STUPID JET FAN. But, the Jets signed Brett Favre for one weird season (they were Super Bowl faves at 8-3, then collapsed) and the Giants lost in their first playoff game after a great regular season. Then the Jets hired Rex Ryan, drafted Mark Sanchez and made two straight AFC Title games while Big Blue missed the playoffs. And while the Jets have no one to blame but themselves for this most recent debacle of a season, everything was made ten times worse by the Giants making the Super Bowl. Not only have the Giants made it again, their run started by essentially ending the Jets' season in Week 16. Victor Cruz's 99-yard touchdown reception sent the Jets one way and the Giants the other. The Giants' two Super Bowl appearances basically takes everything a Jets fan could hang their hat on these past few seasons and obliterates it.
And then of course there are the Patriots. The last thing I want, as a New Yorker, is for another Boston team to win a championship. Any agony of the Red Sox' hilarious September collapse would be softened with another Patriots Super Bowl win. The Pats are the Jets' chief rival, no matter if they share a city with the Giants. Had the Jets beaten the Patriots in both of their meetings this season, the Jets would have made the playoffs, so they have no one to blame but themselves for not knocking off New England (as Rex Ryan pleaded for the rest of the league to do). And what makes New England being back in the Super Bowl so unbearable for Jets fans is that the Patriots were so beatable this year. (All you need to know about them is that with their season on the line, needing a stop, they had Julian Edelman, a wide receiver, covering Anquan Boldin. And they're supposed to stop Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham how exactly?)
The breaks both the Giants and the Patriots got on Championship Sunday are breaks that us Jets fans seem to never be on the right side of. Ask any Jets fan and they'll tell you that if Tynes was wearing green and white, he would have Cundiff'd it. Had Ahmad Bradshaw been a Jet, they would have never called his forward progress stopped, and that surely would have been a fumble. There's no way a punt returner is muffing a kick and fumbling another one against the Jets in a title game. Of course it sounds like sour grapes because that's exactly what it is. That's what us Jets fans have been dining on for too long.
I confess that I'm a bigger fan of the New York Jets than I am of the National Football League. That's why I can actually consider boycotting Super Bowl 46. There are millions and millions of people who would never not watch a Super Bowl, no matter what. For those fans of the Jets who will still watch on Sunday, who do you root for? There's no such thing as watching a game just to watch it. Sports fans, no matter what they say, have a rooting interest in every game they watch. You either get a pit in your stomach when you watch a player celebrate a victory or you don't. When Sunday's game is over and either Tom Brady or Eli Manning is raising the Lombardi trophy, you'll either wish it was the other guy or you won't. So who do you root for?
If you hate all things Boston no matter what, you root for the Giants. If you have nothing but annoying Giant-fan friends who you just want to shut up, you pull for the Pats. Maybe you want former Jet Shaun Ellis to win a title. Maybe you want Eli to win a second Super Bowl so that Peyton can't stand the idea that anyone will think Eli is better than him (he's not, and Sunday does absolutely nothing to change that), so he decides to come to the Jets to try to upstage his little brother. Maybe you'll throw some money down and root for that -- totally acceptable.
Either way, if you watch Sunday's game, you'll have a rooting interest. It's a no-win situation for Jets fans. Or you can be like me and not watch. That's also acceptable.
***The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the Patriots finished this season at 12-4. They finished 13-3. Thanks to those who pointed out the needed correction.