In the spirit of full disclosure, let me point out that I was born in New York, and though my family moved to New England when I was only a boy of four, I have fond memories of many visits there, over the years, to visit my relatives. My boyhood memories include great times at Coney Island, the Bronx Zoo, the Statue of Liberty., and later the New York World’s fair. As we grew up here in Massachusetts, my younger brother and I always selected Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford to emulate when we’d play baseball. We sang along with Frank when he belted out “New York, New York” at countless weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. I remember admiring John Lindsey and John Rockefeller, even as I became enamored of the Kennedy brothers. I appreciated the Giants and Bill Parcells, even before he came to the Pats. And even though I am a rabid Red Sox fan, I have always appreciated and applauded Yankees from Thurman Munson to Graig Nettles to Andy Pettite to Derek Jeter to Mariano Rivera who have played the game with both grit and class.
“So what?” you ask. So, there is no way you can accuse me of being a Big Apple-hater! In fact, I just got back from a few days of delightful New York sight-seeing where I visited the Bronx Zoo, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Top of the Rock. You can check out my photos at http://mrgrosky.wordpress.com/ and at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrgrosky/ .
That is why it almost pains me to say that the New York team which is visiting Gillette Stadium in Foxboro tomorrow–the New York Jets–is one which is unworthy of its fans and unworthy of the great city of New York. Yeah, I know all about the Patriots and the great Snowplow controversy and Spygate ………The former was no big deal to anyone except Don Shula and some disgruntled Dolphins, and the latter was nearly identical to what many other NFL coaches have routinely done. For that, they were justly penalized a total of $750 THOUSAND dollars and a first round draft choice—the toughest penalty in NFL history. But these two events are the sole blemishes on a team that for much of the 90’s and the first decade in the new millennium has represented class and the highest level of skill. Since 1994, the Pats have the best record in football. They have continued their extraordinary record even after Spygate in 2007, when many were hoping and waiting for them to fall on their faces.
Now the Jets, on the other hand, have long been a team that has fallen far short of expectations. Many say that the first three words that a new Manhattan daddy hears his baby utter are “Same Old Jets.”
This year the Jets have notched new lows in outrageousness and lack of class. Hmmmm…….where do I start? There are so many examples that I’d better take them chronologically. Way back in August there was the HBO Hard Knocks display of profanity by brash Coach Rex Ryan. Then in September, a reporter complained that she was subjected to catcalls and jokes by players as she covered practices. Jets owner Woody Johnson had to not only apologize, but was forced to pay for an NFL training program to improve the workplace environment. Also in September, we had the allegations of driving while intoxicated against Jets receiver Braylon Edwards. Then, in December, the Jets were forced to suspend their strength and conditioning coach when he instructed inactive players to form a wall on the sidelines before he tripped a Dolphins special teams player during the game. Then in December and January, we continued to deal with the behavior of Brett Favre, back when he was a Jet–serious allegations of sexual harassment by this famous quarterback, who also happens, by the way, to be a married man. In recent days we have arrogant Coach Rex Ryan trying to get inside Tom Brady’s head by saying that Brady studies—but not as much as Peyton Manning, and that Manning would have been watching the Jets instead of watching the Broadway show Lombardi, a la Brady. Finally, this week we have Antonio Cromartie profanely attacking Brady with words that can not be reprinted here (because this blog is read by adults and children of all ages). For that reason among others, I will not even tread into the dirty waters surrounding the Ryan/Ryan foot issue.
And what have the Pats done during all this time? Kept their mouths shut, respected their opponents–including the Jets–and played tough, smart, great football–even while having one of the youngest teams in the league. The Jets would do well to remember that words are cheap, and that it is action and results that count.
For tomorrow’s playoff game, I hope that the Jets leave the trash talk in the locker room, and come out to play some good clean hard-nosed football. It’ll be the only way they have a chance. If they get carried away with their own hyperbole, as they did the last time they met the Pats, it’ll end up being another blowout with the Pat winning 38-10. If the Jet can play up to the level and quality of the city they represent—with class and with heart—it’ll be significantly closer.
Still, I’m predicting a Patriots victory 31-27.