By Anthony Bosco
I was tempted to write this column yesterday after watching my beloved Jets lose their opening game of the 2001 season. But, alas, the pain was too great for me to put into words my utter disappointment and rage. Hopefully now I can fully articulate how angry I am.
I waited nine months for this? Nine months of hoping and tricking myself into the belief that, despite all the woes my team has suffered over the years, the Jets would actually be a decent team this year. I should know better.
For some Godforsaken reason, I have been cursed a Jets fan. I was born in June, 1970, nearly six months after Broadway Joe Namath led the team to the promised land and changed the landscape of professional football forever, when the AFL Jets beat the NFL Colts in Super Bowl III.
That was a lifetime ago for me. In my 31 plus years on this crusty ball of molten lava and carbon hurtling through the universe, not once have I been able to dance a jig in January in celebration of the Jets winning the Super Bowl. That is just downright tragic.
In my humble opinion, one’s allegiance to a team is a lot like being in love. You don’t choose who you will fall in love with, it just happens because of deep-seeded animal desires, the phase of the moon at your birth and a chemical-electronic impulse somewhere in your frontal lobe. The same can be said about my loyalty to the Jets. I mean, if I had any choice in the matter I would have abandoned them long ago.
When I was in my formative years, just old enough to begin to understand the subtleties of football, did the Jets threaten to once again become a great team. It also happened to be the first year I can remember following football with any real interest. Sure there was a fascination with the Pittsburgh Steelers when I was in short pants, but I was young.
The year was 1982 and the Jets, believe it or not, were still playing their home games at Shea Stadium, just a short car ride from my parents’ home in Bayside.
I watched in awe and wonder as Richard Todd (remember him?) led the team to within one game of the Super Bowl, battling the hated Miami Dolphins in what was to become known as the Mud Bowl down in soggy south Florida.
All I remember from that game is a Dolphins linebacker named A.J. Duhe. Never before or since have I heard of this guy doing anything remotely important on a football field, but when it counted to my team, Duhe had the day of his life.
Todd was picked off three times by Duhe, as the Jets went down to inglorious defeat and elimination from the playoffs.
Since then, the pickings have been very slim.
Joe Walton took over the team in 1984 and the Jets were respectable, but never great under him, despite some pretty darn good players in Mark Gastineau, Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons, Freeman McNeil, Wesley Walker and Ken O’Brien.
After Walton came Bruce Coslet, a nice enough guy, it seemed, but someone who just couldn’t get the Jets over the hump. Of course, Browning Nagle didn’t help matters.
Then came Pete Carroll, an energetic young coach with a bright future ahead of him. But after one losing season, Carroll was let got by the Jets braintrust in favor of, get this, Rich Kotite.
Kotite has become a joke, albeit a sad one, in Jets circles since. When he was hired, then Jets owner, the late Leon Hess, said he couldn’t wait to win any longer and was making the move because he didn’t have much time left.
He’s still waiting.
Kotite ran the Jets into the ground, literally, guiding the team to a disastrous 1-15 season in his second — and last — year at the controls.
Then came the Tuna.
Bill Parcells, who led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl wins and took the New England Patriots to the championship, was supposed to be the savior of the franchise. And he was, in many respects. But like all things Jets, this marriage was bound not to work out.
Parcells was 9-7 in year one of his term, quite an improvement, and a year later he took the team to within a half of the Super Bowl, as the Jets were leading the Denver Broncos at halftime of the AFC Championship before going on to lose.
As upset as I was at the time, I knew better things were to come.
Of course, the Jets were snakebitten again when quarterback Vinny Testeverde was hurt on the very first play of the following season, forcing him to miss the whole year. The Jets finished 8-8, which was quite respectable considering, but Parcells had enough.
Al Grohl stepped in last year, went 9-7, missed the playoffs and quit after the year ended. In comes Herman Edwards, architect of a fantastic defense in Tampa Bay, but with no head coaching experience. Still, I was hopeful.
Then Sunday happens. All the talk of a young, fast defense and the west coast offense had me thinking the Jets would contend for the division crown and then, who knows.
Well, a day later I am here lamenting the damage done. You know, if Marvin Jones kneels down in the end zone after his interception or Vinny Testeverde doesn’t fumble away the ball in the fourth quarter, maybe the Jets night have had a chance. Yeah, they could have won that game Sunday. No, they should have won that game Sunday.
Maybe next week.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.