By Ryan Fitzgerald – Co-Editor-in-Chief
I’m going to come out and say it; I am a New York Jets fan. I may have lost some readers already, but please, bear with me.
I was probably five or six years old. My father was watching football in the living room on a Sunday afternoon, and I was just gaining an interest in sports. The Jets were playing the Miami Dolphins. The game was a rout in the Jets favor (surprisingly), and that is when my fandom began. I’m not sure why I chose the Jets. Maybe it was my fascination with the color green. I loved the jerseys, and I loved the logo.
Ever since that Sunday, I’ve religiously followed the Jets. My room at home is painted green, with Jets posters, newspaper clippings, and collages plastered on the walls. Besides the Celtics, they are the sports team I love most. In fact, they are the only team outside of Massachusetts that I root for.
Of course at age 5 I didn’t realize the Jets were bitter divisional rivals with the beloved hometown favorite, New England Patriots. I didn’t realize the ridicule I would receive from friends and neighbors for loving the team in green as I grew older.
I often hesitate to say something when football is brought up in class, or in a group of people I don’t know personally, because I know the first thing that will be said. “What??!! You’re a Jets fan? How could you do that to yourself? Why would you root for that dreadful team?” Each time I go on to tell the story and receive a look of disgust. But I’m used to it.
My friends were ruthless growing up; I was reminded every time the Jets lost, espe- cially to the Patriots. I would proudly wear my Jets attire each fall, hoping for some miracle that my team would make it to February. Each year I was let down.
In my 20 years, I have seen every team I love win a championship, except for the Jets. However, it was that fateful 2010 season when the Jets claimed victory over the number one seeded Patriots in the playoffs to reach the AFC Championship that I relished most. I immedi- ately called my friends to brag, they all hung up as soon as they heard me scream into the phone. One of my friends actually refused to acknowledge my presence for the rest of the week at school, and only spoke to me once the Jets had lost the following week in the AFC Cham- pionship. They haven’t reached the playoffs since. They’ve never won a conference champi- onship, and they hold one Super Bowl victory, which came in 1969, 26 years before my birth.
But it was that win in Super Bowl III that is arguably the most important victory in American football history.
The Jets were a part of the American Football League, and faced the Baltimore Colts of the National Football League. AFL teams were considered far less superior than NFL teams at the time, but the Jets pulled off the upset, be- coming the first AFL team to win a champion- ship. The AFL gained respect after the victory, which led to a merger in 1970, creating the NFL that exists today. Oh yeah, one of those teams in the AFL were the Boston Patriots. So next time you claim hatred against my be- loved Gang Green, remember what they did. Remember that they gave the Patriots and the rest of the AFL the chance to play in the NFL we follow today.