So today was yet another fine example of why being a fan of the New York Jets is akin to forever having shingles. Now, a Cleveland Browns diehard might say, “Well, it could be worse. You could be us.” And that’s nonsense. Because at least the Cleveland Browns diehard knows there’s no such thing as hope. Your team sucks, your team will always suck. You know it, I know, and we’ve both digested and accepted the information.
The Jets, on the other hand, don’t always suck. They give you reason to believe, and have for many years. There was Joe Namath in Super Bowl III. There were guys like Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko and Wesley Walker and Al Toon and Kayshawn and Chrebet and Parcells and … lots and lots of great players; lots and lots of flirtations with optimism.
Then, inevitably, plop!
A lot of younger Jets fans have learned their lessons through Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez and, now, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Mine came back in the early 1980s, when the team was led by a quarterback named Richard Todd. Now, well before he was an established starter, Todd was selected by New York with the No. 6 overall pick in the 1976 Draft. And, for a while, he was awful. First he had to battle a nobody named Matt Robinson for the starting gig. Then, in 1979, he threw 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Then, a year later, he threw 17 touchdowns and THIRTY interceptions. He was brutal, and got booed with impressive vigor by the home fans.
Somehow, though, Todd figured things out, and in 1982 he led the Jets to the AFC title game at Miami. Over two seasons, he’d thrown 39 touchdowns and just 21 picks, and it seemed like New York was on the cusp of greatness … until the Dolphins picked him off five times en route to the Super Bowl. Todd was back to sucking the following year (18 touchdowns, 26 interceptions), and he never played for the Jets again.
But here’s the rub.
Bum Phillips, head coach of the New Orleans Saints, thought his team was merely a quarterback away from contending, and he handed New York a first-round pick in the upcoming draft in exchange for Todd. This was, truly, an absolute gift from the Gods. Todd was awful, and the Jets had recently added a strong-armed quarterback from Cal-Davis named Ken O’Brien. A first-round pick for Richard Todd? No brainer—we’ll take it!
And they did take it. And they used that pick—that insanely valuable pick—to grab Ron Faurot, a defensive lineman from the University of Arkansas. And Ron Faurot now operates a bar in Hurst, Texas, which is surely a better fit for him than the NFL (in which he lasted two seasons). Meanwhile, 18 future Pro Bowlers were picked after Faurot.
And Ken O’Brien, the strong-armed quarterback? He was picked ahead of Dan Marino.
There is no hope. Accept it.