As I began watching last week’s Wild Card round of NFL Playoffs, I started thinking back to the last time I saw the New York Jets in a playoff game. It wasn’t just about remembering the game because that’s not hard to remember since they’ve been in so few over the years; it was remembering where I was in my life when I watched them lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL Championship Game fourteen years ago.
Once I started thinking about that, it became even more striking. It feels like I’ve been living in the house I am in now forever. However, the last time the Jets played in the playoffs, I was in a different house. My two sons, now in their twenties, were still pretty young. They were completely different people than they are now when they were just kids. My older son, now 27, was only 12 years old. My younger son, now 21, was only seven years old. There is a vast difference between a 7 and 12-year-old and a 21 and 27-year-old. That’s when it really hit me just how long it’s been since the Jets were in the playoffs. My kids have never really gotten to experience seeing the Jets in the playoffs in their youth. Of course, it’s not just my kids but an entire generation of kids who never experienced the joy of NFL Playoff Football as a Jets fan.
It’s a critical point because most football fans become fans of teams between the ages of 12 and 15. If their team never presents them with exciting football or even a believable glimmer of hope, there is a chance that they lose interest in the team and maybe even the sport. Of course, the NFL does try to help losing teams by rewarding them with higher draft picks and easier schedules. But, in the end, some teams seem cursed.
I love the Jets. Their organization has always treated me well as a season ticket holder for the most part. However, this past season was the first time I felt a little resentment towards the team. It wasn’t about the losing because that’s what I’ve come to expect from the Jets. Ask any hardcore long-time Jets fan, and they will tell you the same thing. No, I began to feel resentment and even a bit of anger when the Jets asked their season ticket holders to start making payments in mid-November for next season. This was when the Jets were winning this year, so it gave the team a little swagger they thought they could get away with on their fans. As a PSL owner, my 14th PSL payment was due on November 1st. The team asked me to pay for next year’s ticket two weeks later. That’s something that the Giants would do to their fans. I was pretty surprised that they pulled this stunt.
It has been years since the Jets organization have seen such a interest in season tickets. That changed when they signed Aaron Rogers. With a taste of possible success and a winning season, the Jets got greedy with their fans. Suddenly they didn’t care about their regular season ticket holders. They were looking to get more new ones, finally, fill the stadium again, and create a new waiting list. They were telling fans like me that there was such a need for seats that they just wanted to ensure I would still return next year. That would be done by giving them more money after giving them a thousand-dollar PSL payment. It’s funny how making a thousand-dollar PSL payment was not enough proof that I was coming back for the next season.
Of course, as in the past in jet land, the team took a turn for the worse from that point on and continued to look like the same old Jets. The curse laughed and roared very loudly. What was his team thinking? How could they take such a risk, angering long-time season ticket holders because they got greedy? It was a big mistake.
My entire point behind this article is that the teams should not mess with fans who have stuck with them through the bad. I can’t even say the good and bad with the Jets. It’s mostly just been bad. There were a few moments. Of course, for most people my age who are in their 60s, the 69 Super Bowl is just a little bit too far away as I was too young to really enjoy it.
We had fun during the Parcells years and got close. Perhaps the most fun I ever had as a New York Jets fan was when Rex Ryan was steering the ship. He was a lot of fun. He was enjoyable to listen to in the car driving home after every game during the usual 3-plus hour drive back to Long Island. Most importantly, he brought the Jets to two Championship Games two years in a row. What did the Jets do about it? They let him go. Maybe it’s time to bring good Rex Ryan back. At least he’ll make it fun again.
Stay tuned for my story on life at Met Life stadium for the past thirteen years.