I've taught myself never to get excited about the New York Jets.
It happened over the course of the entire last decade. When they were coming off of a good season looked like they'd be a team that could possibly contend, they'd go 4-12. When they were coming off one of those 4-12 seasons, they randomly bounced back and made the playoffs.
Their bipolar behavior during the aughts decade is understandable. The Jets went through a calvacade of occasionally inspiring coaches (Remember Herm Edwards? Remember when Eric Mangini was cool enough to be on an episode of the Sopranos?) and played at the whims of Chad Pennington's arm, which, though accurate, was unfortunately constructed by a group of eight-year olds out of paper maché in the arts and crafts booth at a local day camp during the 2002 offseason. I realized it was easier to live in a state of semi-ignorance about my favorite football team. I'd watch every game, but building up expectations was foolish: if they were good, it became a pleasant surprise, as it was this past year, and for the first eight weeks of the Brett Favre era. But if you were expecting them to be good, they not only didn't turn out to be good, but they turned out to be horrendous. (And don't call me a fairweather fan: I attended a game between a 4-11 Chiefs and 3-12 Jets in sleet and watched Mike Nugent hit a game-winning field goal in overtime. I watched Justin Miller return a punt for a touchdown to give the Jets the lead - and thereby remove them from contention for the first pick in the 2006 NFL draft, where the Jets would get the fourth pick, too late to select Mario Williams, Reggie Bush, and Vince Young.) I've loved this team and paid for it. So I convinced myself just to watch the games and see what happens. That way, if nothing does happen - it rarely does - nobody gets hurt.
But... this year... despite all my best interests... I can't help but become obsessed with the New York Jets.
There's established, name-brand talent at pretty much every position. There's Rex Ryan, who, as we all know by this point, is everybody's new favorite NFL coach. There's Hard Knocks.
For once, I feel like this team I follow - the one everybody generally considers the second most interesting team to play in their own stadium, you know, the stadium named after another team that plays there - is in the middle of something big. The world, for whatever reason has it's eyes on the Gang Green. Normally, I'd be on my soapbox preaching about how bad an idea it is to get caught up in the excitement.
But not with this team. I can't help it. It's terrible. I'm telling myself about how good Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson be, even without Darrelle Revis. I marvel at how good our offensive line is. I tell myself that LaDanian Tomlinson still has it, and that Mark Sanchez has great leaps and bounds of improvements he could make. I wait eagerly for HBO's next dispatch about the fullback position battle.
This could get ugly.