Saturday, February 02, 2008

Talk Supe On Groundhog Day

Super Bowl number whatever: You've got the classic Yankees of football vs. the late-90s Yankees of football.

Giants (the "classic Yankees" of football): The traditional New York team who have been around a long time, and who can make fun of the other New York team by saying, We've won in the 90s, you haven't won since '69. Their fans are mainly Yankee fans, and they act like they are simply a higher class of person. And Jere never liked them.

Patriots (the "late-90s Yankees" of football): They've won a bunch of titles in a short timespan, they're the boring team in blue, they cheat to win, but when they're called on it, they just say, "everyone else was doing it, too," their best player wears a Yankee hat, they play "Welcome to the Jungle" at their stadium every game, everyone either loves or hates them, and a lot of their fans assume they've won before the game is played. And Jere never liked them.

Yes, folks, the voices in my head are still battling this one out. And I'll bring more history into it for you:

Many were shocked when I, the man who would sometimes eat more than one McDonald's meal in a day, gave up meat, eight years and 33 days ago. (Next week will mark the point where I can say I've been a vegetarian for exactly one quarter of my life. And please note, I'm not that weird about knowing the exact day--it's just easy since that day was January 1st, 2000.)

But people were more shocked when I gave up my teams in the two "other" sports around that same time. Having grown up with the Red Sox, Jets, and Nets in southwestern Connecticut, I had, let's see, three total people who liked the same team I did in ANY of the three sports. And that's if you count the other guy who rooted for the Red Sox and Jets as two people. I'm not talkin' friends, I'm talkin' total people in my town that I was aware of (not counting my own family). I don't know what was worse, the fact that I'd never seen any of my teams win a championship, or that I had hardly anyone to sympathize with about it.

Around the turn of the century, though, a very disturbing thing happened with the Nets--they joined forces with the Yankees of baseball, to form "YankeeNets," an ownership group that oversaw both teams. I don't know the details of it, I just know that my team and "Yankee" were being used not only in the sentence, but in the same word. Steinbrenner had interest in my team, and they were shown on the YES network. That was it for me. The worst part was, the team finally got good at that point, going to the Finals two years in a row. I still couldn't help but root for the guys I'd been rooting for in the years just before the Yankee-merger, but soon after, I was completely done. (Ironically, or not, a few years later, in '05, when Chan and I moved in together, he had gone from being a Jordan-era Bulls fan to a Kidd-era Nets fan, so the Nets were once again on the TV all the time at my house.)

So being done with my basketball team was complete--and, honestly, it was the least desirable of the three sports to me. It freed up more time in my life to do creative things. Which is another reason I stopped following football, too. And that is a valid reason. Sports took up a lot of my time as a kid, and I wanted my Sundays in the winter free again, among other days. Ironically, or not, the one sport I kept is the one that basically goes all year....

Okay, so I'm finally getting to the part where I stopped rooting for the Jets. I was just as die-hard about them as I was the Red Sox. It started out with the Sack Exchange--Gastineau, Klecko, Lyons, Mehl, Abdul Salaam--and the '82 run, when they almost knocked off the Dolphins to go to the Super Bowl. It didn't happen, and I was only 7, but I had my team from that point on. I went through the Freeman McNeil years, though my favorite was his back-up, Johnny Hector. Then Kenny O'Brien came on the scene and we thought we were finally Super Bowl-bound. That one year, man, we were 10-1, and stupid Paul McGuire came out and said, "the New York Jets will not win another football game this season." He was right. We finished 10-6. After a wild card win with O'Brien's back-up, Pat Ryan, at the helm (Post headline: Ryan's Hope), it looked like maybe we were back. We went to Cleveland and had a big lead late, but blew it, losing in double overtime, missing out on the AFC title game by that much. The Wesley Walker/Al Toon teams would never get that close again.

The next decade was pretty rough. Man, we saw some bad games at the Meadowlands from section 316, where we'd see one game each year. It was always fun listening to the "no-show" number. Attendance: 76,000. No-shows: 70,000. But we had one game, and my family and a friend would faithfully go to it every year, sitting in the freezing cold under a huge blanket. The 1-15 season was rock bottom--though I still say we were the best 1-15 team in the history of football.

Then the Jets went ahead and got Bill Parcells to be the coach. I hated the guy. Why? Because he was a Giant. He'd gone to the Pats, becoming "Pah-cells, dude," and had almost won there, while I continued to hate him. And now he was my coach, but I didn't want "almost," which had become the Tuna's forte. Sure enough, he almost won with us. It was 1998, and finally, the Jets were in position to get back to the big game. In a season where it seemed the team simply could not lose at home, we finally won the division we missed out on a decade before. We won a playoff game, and were in the AFC championship. It was Jets mania, with all my friend showing up every Sunday to watch the new popular team.

Then, Parcells decided his old Giant buddy, Dave Meggett, would be good to have on the team. We were up at halftime over Elway's Broncos, and I had visions of driving to the Super Bowl, but thanks in part to a Meggett miscue, we blew it once again.

And again, we'd missed our window. Shortly after, Parcells was movin' out of the head coaching job, but his trusty assistant, a bitch of a man named BILL BELICHICK, was to take over the job. The Jets were ready to stay up there with the class of the AFC. However, Belichick shocked everyone when, a day after getting the job, he fucking quit. He went to the Pats, and, needless to say, by early 2004, it didn't seem like the Red Sox were cursed as much as it seemed "Jere's teams in general are cursed."

But before that, before the Pats won, that's when the "rivalry" started happening. Jets-Patriots. After the '98 run, and into the early '00s, suddenly these two teams started to hate each other. Growing up, the Pats were just another team to me. The division rival I cared about the least, in fact. I hated the Dolphins, Bills, and Colts way more than the Pats. But I never thought of it in terms of "the Pats are the team Red Sox fans are supposed to like," or whatever. The Giants were my rival. There were Giants fans, and there were Jets fans where I grew up. That's all we cared about. "Bragging rights." Neither of us cared about the Pats. The year they played the Bears in the Super Bowl, when I was 10, I rooted for the wacky, fun-lovin' Bears. But I would've rooted for them against anybody. Except the Jets, of course. And then the Pats stunk again and none of us paid attention.

But now, suddenly my fellow Jet fans were yelling "Boston Sucks," and Pats fans felt they had a rival, the suddenly "big, bad" Jets, with their old coach--and Curtis Martin, their old running back--now in green. And now that they'd taken Belichick back, it was war.

A war I wanted no part of. Like I said, I'd never had more than one friend and my family to sympathize with as a Sox fan. But with this newfangled internet, suddenly I was aware of other Red Sox fans. And these people did NOT like the Jets. Which turns out to be ironic, or not, since the Jets to this day are the "old" Red Sox of football. So I felt the pressure. The weird thing was, though, it wasn't about "oh no, the Pats are gonna win, and I don't wanna be on the losing side." Not at all. It was more like, "Oh no, the Jets are gonna win, and I don't wanna get my ass e-kicked by this new community of Sox fans I'm now in."

But instead of that happening, the favored Jets, that fateful year, knocked Drew "most overrated person in the world" Bledsoe out of action, leaving the poor Pats with a back-up named Tom Brady, while the Jets would surely go on and win nine straight championships. Nope. Brady took the Pats to the Super Bowl. And I must've gone into full hatred mode by then, because I remember, despite hating the Rams, picking them to beat the Pats, like, 55-10 in that Super Bowl. But the Pats won. Now all New England sports fans had Celtics dynasties to fall back on, and a new title in football. And I had nothing. It really stank.

By then, I'd already started my "I don't follow football" plan, and had started doing these "creative" things with my new free time, like starting and touring with a band. But you can't avoid sports no matter how hard you try. So I officially "wasn't a Jets/football fan" but I was still sick. And to think, it partly came from the fact that I, a Sox fan, might become a "hated winner," only to continue to be a loser. Maybe it's time for me to become a Jets fan again, eh? (I also wonder if maybe my intense focus on baseball is what allowed me to see the Red Sox finally win it all--and maybe the sports gods are saying, Hey, we made sure to keep the Jets and Nets as total losers in case you ever get "tired" of this whole "Red Sox as winners" thing. Nah, it ain't worth it. This is too good.)


So as you can see, I would be in this same dilemma about this year's Super Bowl if I were a Giants fan. I wouldn't want MY football team to make it so people can make fun of MY baseball team by beating the Pats. And I wouldn't want MY people to make fun of me for having lost to the Pats. So I'd probably wuss out and just say "I'm out" like I did when the Jets and Pats "played each other in the Super Bowl," i.e. "became rivals."

You see what I'm saying? I hope that all made sense.

The more I think about this game, the more I think, Well, something bad WILL happen, but something good will, too. I have to think positive. I'll just let the game happen, knowing that either I won't be (ridiculously) thought of as a "choker" by Yankee fans, or I'll get to see an undefeated team who's won enough already lose their first game in the Super Bowl, and get to laugh at all the people who have already printed up their "19-0" T-shirts. Either way, one of the two Yankees' will lose.

Bonus paragraph, where he actually talks about the game!: Okay, so, all that crap said, I've been watching this Pats team, and they're beatable! Seriously, has anyone noticed this? Okay, so my girlfriend, a Pats fan, says, "If they're beatable, how come no one's beaten them?" Good point. And maybe I'm just looking at it from the gambler's perspective and seeing how the Pats are always huge favorites, yet have not been covering the spread lately, but it just seems like every game, the opponent is in the game. For a long time. One or two lucky breaks for some of these teams, and the Pats would have a couple of losses. I think if the Giants can get ahead, they'll be in good shape. The Pats seem to just do a little more than the other team, consistently, and very calmly. And I give them credit for that. They've won games where it seemed like they had no chance. They can come back when they need one score, but what if they need two or three? I think the Giants will take a lead on 'em at some point. If, at that point, they can hold onto the ball and get another score, the Pats may be done. 18 and a very huge 1. More likely, the Pats just blow them out of the water.

Erase the Patriot Hate, Jere. Reduce it down to very simple terms: If the Pats win, a lot of Sox fans will be very happy. And just as many Yankee fans will be sad.

I'll admit to being a complete bandwagon Pats fan. The Yankee analogy is not appropriate...the Pats keep winning in a league with a salary cap. And Bledsoe was never that good, but he was never as overrated as, say, Derek Jeter...or even Brett Favre.

I think it's going to be a very close game. Giants have a legitimate chance at winning, but I suspect that the Pats will pull out a squeaker.
Erasing my own Jets love is the best Pats fans are gonna get from me, I think, and I did that a while ago. "I did it for you, Sully!!!!" You are right about the Yanks comparison, but they are like the Yanks in the ways I specified. The late 90s Yanks. And if you heard EEI at all lately, you'll hear an arrogance that's as bad, easily, as any Yankee fans that called the FAN in those days. It's, like, over the top.

(My Bledsoe thing--that was just my nickname for him at the time. My little joke. "Not only is he the most overrated athlete, he's the most overrated person, period."
Jere, it pains me that you hate the Patriots that much. Look at it this way, with me being a HUGE Pats fan, of course I hope they win, but NO MATTER WHAT, I hope for a GOOD, CLEAN game, and a close score. A real nail biter. And if Manning pulls it off, I'll be sad to see the Pats lose, but sort of (resentfully)happy to see Manning in the limelight. My advice, hate the teams but respect the top players. It should be a great game.
Don't compare the Patriots to the Yankees.

Right off the bat, how can you possibly use EEI as a basis for judging the Pats? You have yourself complained about them for not being representative of Sox fans! Well guess what? They aren't exactly the pulse of the Patriots either!

Secondly, the thing with the bandwagoners is that there are more of them with the Pats than the Sox because they were absolutely dreadful until the mid 80s and even then only briefly good. I know people who lived in RI and MA their whole lives who are Dolphins and 49s fans because they were on top when these folks came of age and they wanted to be the kid who rooted for a winner in school. I remember growing up in the 90s that department stores would always have a wide array of football stuff, and not much more New England than Giants or Greenbay. Seems really lame to me, but whatever. When the Pats started being good, a lot of these fair-weather people migrated "back" to their home team, and suddenly, stores went to being 90% Patriots apparel. These are the people who compose that arrogant wagoneer group, I believe.

But all of this doesn't mean that actual fans who grew up with New England (and it is awesome that they aren't "Boston" by the way, because some of us are not from "Boston") deserve to hear about how they "cheat to win" or all this garbage. A remark like that demonstrates your ignorance of that overblown incident. Everyone actually DOES "steal" signals which are out in the open. It is just that no one else was caught videotaping it, which has to be only a marginal disadvantage. That is nowhere close to most of the Yankees line-up juicing. Taping signals never won them a single game and never made Brady, Moss and all of them as good as they are.

I ask you: If the Red Sox won the next two years would you stop rooting for them in the World Series because they were winning "too much?" Of course not. Maybe other people would find them boring and monolithic, but they're you're team no matter what. Would it make some of casual fans arrogant? Of course it would, but that is no basis for judging them. Any of the "arrogance" you are hearing on the radio is because they really ARE amazing this year. They are probably the most dominant team in 20 years. Confidence in them is not misplaced or incorrect. If the Sox were that good, people would come out just like you are complaining about how boring it is that they crush everyone and some of their fans are now expecting them to win every game.

I usually agree with you, but I think you have really misjudged the Patriots here. You don't have to like them, but the Yankees analogy is not apt.
I don't doubt that about the bandwagoners, we had our share of 49ers/Dolphins kids--how convenient for them....

I'm totally not ignorant about spygate. Just because I don't talk about it here doesn't mean I haven't been bombarded by it for months. I've heard all the accusations, all the excuses. But the point is, they cheated to win. Just like the 90s Yanks, they were caught, and they say "everyone else did it, too!" Doesn't mean they didn't do the illegal thing and get caught. Again, I just find a lot of similarities between them and that one time of Yankee history, not the team in general.

I love to hear Red Sox fans bragging about winning to Yankee fans, and I hope it can continue for 100 years. But who held the Pats down? So they stunk for a kind of long time, the Jets stunk for that long and STILL do. Matty "hates" the Jets, when they've done nothing to the Pats (except make Tom Brady the starter), and they've never won in our lifetime while the Pats won a bunch. What's hatable about that. In the Jets-Pats fake-ass rivalry, there's only one Yankees.

About the 'boring" thing-that's just it, the Red Sox are so NOT boring. We've been blessed with the "beyond the laundry" effect for years now. We love them because we would anyway, but they just happen to be damn lovable. If I had written a script of about the Red Sox finally winning the World Series, I couldn't have even dreamed up personalities like Pedro, Manny, Papi, Papelbon, etc. I also couldn't have dreamed up the way we'd win like we did against the Yanks in '04. That was something everyone could get behind. The Pats may have had bad years, but I don't see it as an excuse for people to want to get behind them. I sure didn't.

Maybe if I can stay "neutral" for another 50 years, and the Pats are bad the whole time and then finally win again, and they develop some rivalry with some really evil team, maybe I could root for THOSE Pats. But I'm too close to my roots of just never liking them. They just weren't my team.

I also feel like there's not much "God this is sweet, we get to beat the (true) Yanks of football, the Giants in the Super Bowl. Double awesome!" from Pats fan because all their grandparents were Giants fans!!! It's just muddying up this whole fake/real cities/sports teams/ non rivalry even more. This is why I just want it all to go away.

EEI people: the morons of the world. I consider this a given, but you're right, I should've specified this once again.

I also like the New England tag.

Post a Comment

If you're "anonymous," please leave a name, even if it's a fake one, for differentiation purposes.

If you're having trouble commenting, try signing in to whatever account you're using first, then come back here once you're signed in.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

My Photo
Location: Rhode Island, United States