FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Woe is us who choose to wear green this weekend.
This Sunday, the New York Giants and New England Patriots will take to the gridiron for Super Bowl XLVI, playing to determine the NFL’s next champion. Of course, many football fans in Fairfield County and the rest of Connecticut are excited about the contest, a rematch of a classic Super Bowl from four years ago featuring teams with loyal followings in the area.
But for me and others in this state who root for the New York Jets, it’s a game we could probably do without. While still healing from the proverbial wounds of an 8-8 regular season in 2011, complete with off-field drama, Jets fans are torn on deciding which Super Bowl winner would be the lesser of two evils.
The Patriots are a longtime AFC East rival, and the guys from Foxboro have been on the good side of many recent Jets-Pats encounters, including winning both games in the last regular season. A Patriots win would mean us Jets fans would have to endure more trash talk from a team that’s won three Super Bowls while appearing in six throughout its history. Since Bill Belichick took over as New England’s head coach – and departed from the Jets after being head coach for one day, mind you – the Pats have become an elite franchise. The team is led by quarterback Tom Brady, who has made no secret of his hatred for the Jets and who has put up some of his better games against our favorite team. Surely a fourth title would make its fan base even more insufferable, especially with several former Jets (see defensive end Shaun Ellis) claiming a championship with the Pats.
That said, the Giants fans in our area may not be too kind, either. The Giants are the elder statesmen of New York football, having won three Super Bowls since 1986. Many Big Blue supporters have reminded us Jets fans of that, along with all the barbs about our team playing in “their” stadium for many years before both took up residence at MetLife Stadium in 2010.
The chatter of being “New York’s team” became even louder as Giants fans snapped back at Jets head coach Rex Ryan for his boasting of back-to-back AFC title game appearances after the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Many Giants fans took great glee in seeing their team beat the Jets last Christmas Eve, effectively eliminating the Jets from playoff contention.
The win in the all-New York contest proved a springboard for the Giants, who went on to win the NFC East a week later and then reel off three more victories to clinch a berth in the Super Bowl. A fourth title for Big Blue would make the success gap between the New York teams even wider and prompt Giants fans – and players – to rub even more salt in our wounds during a blue-hued championship parade through New York City’s Canyon of Heroes.
Neither outcome is favorable to championship-starved Jets fans. Those of us 45 or younger were either not alive to see Joe Namath back up his “guarantee” of victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III or were too young to appreciate it. We have seen our team in four AFC championship games, all ending in losses one game short of the big game.
So who are we rooting for? I’ve heard some Jets fans say they’ll root for the Pats. They have tired of the Giants’ recent success and G-Men players chirping about how their win over the Jets propelled them to this championship weekend. Some are saying they won’t root for the Pats as much as they’ll root against the Giants. Others simply can’t stand the idea of seeing a hated divisional foe win again, so they will root for the Giants, albeit while holding their noses.
As for this Jets fan: I’ll likely end up pulling for the Giants, though not with full heart. To me, Jets-Giants was never much of a “rivalry.” They play once every four years. And the relationship between Jets and Giants fans during my youth in Brooklyn was rarely antagonistic; most of my Giant fan friends don’t hate the Jets. Plus, I can’t root for a Boston sports team. Despite the declaration that they represent "New England,” all I see is Boston – and you won’t catch me rooting for the Red Sox, Celtics or Bruins, either.
Mostly, us Jets fans just want this whole thing to be done. We’d rather just hear that former Jet Curtis Martin is being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and then fast-forward to the start of training camp for the 2012 season. The latter, unfortunately, won’t happen.
In the meantime, while we're watching the Super Bowl, we'll be hoping that the day will come that we'll get to enjoy the sight of our Gang Green playing in the NFL's biggest game.
But for now, woe is us.
Meanwhile, my Main Street Connect colleagues Richard Weizel and Eric Gendron are engaging in some pre-Super Bowl trash talk. Click here to get their thoughts on Giants vs. Patriots.