Friday, August 8, 2008

All is fair in love and war and football

Chad Pennington has signed with the Miami Dolphins. Say it isn't so, Chad. Such is life in the NFL, I suppose. Rule # 1 - You can't trust Bill Parcells any further than you can throw him. But since it's impossibe to dislike Chad I wish him luck with the rest of his career so long as his new team continues to be awful and keeps losing to the Jets. I guess that isn't wishing him very much luck, so instead I'll hope he gets traded to the NFC soon. That probably won't happen prior to week # 1 when the Jets former QB (no doubt feeling vengeful) and their new icon face off against each other. This should be a very interesting NFL season, shaping up to either provide redemption for long suffering Jets fans or else ultimate humiliation.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dawn of a bright new day (for NY Jets fans)

Last NFL season was a tough one to be a Jets fan. Any long time Jets fan is depressingly familiar with suffering through tough seasons, but last year was particularly brutal following the promise of the preceding year when a new young coach that we snatched from the evil empire in New England strode into town and got far better than expected results for Gang Green. The Eric Mangini era got off to such a great start that he was dubbed Mangenius and made a cameo performance on the hottest show on TV. As everybody familiar with The Sopranos should realize, no matter how much you possess it can all be taken away in the amount of time it takes a bullet to travel through one's skull. The Jets stood poised on the brink of greatness long enough for even their most cynical supporters (and Jets fans by definition and necessity are a cynical lot) to get a little spoiled. Only one thing could stand in the way of glory - the next season. The fragile, oft injured Chad Pennington proceeded to play terribly and was replaced by a healthy but not particularly good Kellen Clemens. Combined they led the team to four victories in the regular season, twelve less than the perfect Patriots managed. Unbelievably New England did not win yet another Super Bowl because somehow they were beaten by their NFC opponent who somehow managed to be none other than the Jets roommates. It's painful enough to root for a 4 - 12 team without them happening to share a stadium with the champions of the league. Never has a competition for bragging rights been more lopsided. Try countering "the Giants are world beaters" with "the Jets had Namath during the Jurassic era". It is simply not an effective argument.

All that changed today. The Giants may have a Manning brother at the helm who has won just as many Super Bowl rings as the one in all those commercials, but the Jets no longer need to feel blue because they don't have too shabby a player manning the quarterback position themselves. Once again the mean green mediocrity machine is turning to a strong armed 38-year old to steer the franchise, but this time around it appears to be a significant upgrade from when they gave Vinnie Testaverde permission to get off his couch and suit up. Today the fabled Brett Favre is officially on board with the program. It may only be a one year experiment. It may be doomed to failure. It may be a pathetic display of desperation, more marketing ploy than effective gameday strategizing. Or it just may be the single greatest thing to happen in Jetsdom since the invention of sliced bread (assuming you're a sliced bread fan, that is.) Argentina no longer needs to cry for me, and neither do any Patriots or Giants backers. Jets fans finally have something to chant with more dignity to it than "At least we're not the Dolphins!".

Favre's résumé is the stuff of dreams, him being the NFL's only three-time Associated Press MVP, the NFL's career record holder in touchdown passes (442), completions (5,377), attempts (8,758), yards (61,655) and victories by a starting quarterback (160). I think I'll conveniently leave out that he also leads the league in interceptions because how can he not when he barely ever sits out a play, much less a game? Instead I'll provide additional stats taken from his most recent season - 4,155 passing yards, 28 touchdown passes, career-highs in both completion percentage (66.5 percent) and yards per attempt (7.8). Not too shabby for an old fogey who merely finished second in the league's MVP voting and got his team to within one unfortunate pass from the Super Bowl. The Jets nearly selected Favre in the second round of the 1991 NFL draft, only to have Atlanta pluck him away one pick ahead of them and eventually trade him to Green Bay. The Jets instead drafted Browning Nagle and everyone is forgiven for refusing to recall how well that worked out. The Jets were painfully close to getting a guy who puts Cal Ripken to shame, the true ironman not just of football but of sports in general (which is a nice change of pace from Chad "Body of Glass - Arm of Wet Noodle" Pennington), but it was not to be until 17 years later. Mr. Favre (I don't feel I know the man well enough to address him yet as just Brett) has nine Pro Bowl berths to his name and a Super Bowl XXXI ring for his finger. Chad Pennington has a nice personality, which when added to two dollars will get you a ride on the New York City subway until the next fare hike comes along. I don't want to rag on Chad too much because I sincerely like the guy and know he gave his all for the team. But being an NFL quarterback who can't take a hit or throw very hard is like being an Olympic swimmer with a pesky habit of sinking to the bottom of the pool and needing to be rescued by a lifeguard. On its own the addition of Brett Favre to New York's roster does not transform them from pretender to contender. When considered along with their other offseason acquisitions however, the path of the Jets does indeed appear cleared for take off.

Back in the olden days when Brett Favre still played for the Green Bay Packers, my wife remarked that John Madden seemed excessively fond of him. Complimenting a player for making a nice throw while under great pressure from a hard charging linebacker is one thing. Continuously proclaiming that he symbolizes all that is great about western civilization may be a bit much. But that was then, this is officially the new golden age of NY Jets history. Favre has changed shades of green, exchanged Cheese Heads and Lambeau leaps for performing his legendary heroics in front of a rightfully angry mob. We do so long to be happy though, and # 4 just may be the guy to turn our frowns upside down and our warranted pessimism into legitimate hope. If so, move over John Madden because you now have some serious competition at being Brett Favre's # 1 fan.