Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Using the Jets as a coping mechanism

Marianne OLeary/Flickr
(Marianne O’Leary/Flickr)

I am from Stony Point, N.Y.. I was born a New York Jets fan. Rather, my father was a Jets fan for a long time and I appear in a Jets trademarked onesie in numerous family photos, all of which were taken before I could walk.

I have entered a lineage of New York Jets faithfuls who, for the most part, have never witnessed a Jets team make it to the championship, let alone win one. After all, we’ve appeared in one championship in our history, which we won. That was Super Bowl III in 1969.

For years I have followed the Jets and they have led me to sheer misery. In both 2009 and 2010, they ventured to the AFC Championship. They lost both times. Though I am not proud of it, I have remained a devotee even through the aftermath of Mark Sanchez’ infamous butt fumble. In a sense they’ve trapped me in an abusive relationship, the likes of which has ultimately made me harshly cynical and unnecessarily pessimistic.

This is kind of like my relationship with government—full of doubt, uncertainty, mistrust, cynicism, morose realism and at times, hatred.

Still, I was shocked by the results of the election.

Now, football is not even remotely as important as the influence American politics have on the state of, well, everything. However, the point I seek to make here is that if there is one thing that being a Jets fan has taught me, it is that I do care, regardless of how easy it would be sometimes to just stop devoting attention to them as they are seemingly just a source of anxiety, frustration and humiliation in my life.

What Donald Trump’s presidency will spell for undocumented workers, Muslims, women, minorities, “convicted criminals” and those abroad whose lives are directly touched by American military action, I do not know for certain, nor can anyone. Uncertainty at this time is the only certainty.

Regardless, a specific tale of my Jets fandom keeps nagging at me. It was December 28, 2008. I was in the sixth grade. My father and I were watching the Jets, wearing the new pajamas my mother had bought us both.

Brett Favre was our quarterback. I do not know why. He was not right for the job; he was a loose cannon, a gunslinger and an easy solution. Brett Favre was a classic football player who’d been a celebrity before he came to the Big City and who would still be after he left.

When the Jets signed him that summer, I thought maybe we could finally solve all of our problems as a franchise, unite the whole offense and finally win.

But what we got was an old white man with questionable judgment and a tendency to do horrible things that on a few occasions left my pre-pubescent self nearly in tears. He did throw a lot of touchdowns, however, and thus had a way of winning over just about any fan that was desperate and needed a reason to believe in their team’s eventual success. To some, it was enough touchdowns to ignore allegations of sexual assault.

Regardless, on December 28, 2008, having just lost in atrocious fashion to the then lowly Seattle Seahawks, we returned to New Jersey to take on the Miami Dolphins in our final regular season game.

Things were quiet in the first half, but Brett came out guns-blazing in the second half and put us up a touchdown. The elation that followed was short-lived and in the end my father and I watched as the Jets offense fumbled around in the snow for most of the fourth quarter, losing the game 24-17. We missed the playoffs. Brett Favre retired at the end of the season. Then, he went and played for the Minnesota Vikings, and made a lot more money.

When that game was over, I turned to my father. He was just kind of chuckling, occasionally letting out a deep exhale. I asked him, “Dad, why are we Jets fans?”

He did not say anything, just laughed.

In the post-game press conference, head coach Eric Mangini said, “I thought today was somewhat of a microcosm of what we’ve been experiencing,” adding, “you know you wish there was just one thing, you wish there was one thing you could look at and say, ‘that’s the issue.’”

To me, the election was a microcosm of American politics that has become a backward melodrama demeaning to all persons who bear witness to it. Likewise, I wish there was one simple issue that was clearly the problem in our society, one everyone from every demographic could agree on, and agree on how to fix.

I don’t mean to demean or discredit people struggling with this election’s results. I don’t mean to compare the importance of professional football to politics. I don’t.

What I mean to do is shed light on a story that in this moment serves me as a reminder that at times it’s nearly impossible to understand why certain decisions are made, no less by large groups of people all seeking the same thing: a better future. In four years I hope things will be different, and Trump’s presidency will not have been in vain.

And in that same press conference, Favre said, “it is what it is.”

Charlie Giordano is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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    Dr. VenckmanNov 16, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Take it from a fellow Jets fan. The only certainties in life are death, taxes and the fact that the Jets suck and will never win anything. Otherwise, uncertainty has ruled the Earth since the beginning of man. It won’t ever change.