Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Miami 2017?

I have older siblings who are avid and long-suffering fans (cue Colonel Nathan Jessup please) of the New York Jets. While I have been a Giants fan for as long as I can recall, I spent Sunday evening rooting for Sonny Werblin's one time toy to win the AFC Championship and return to the Super Bowl for the first time since joining the NFL. They did not. This year in Dallas the Steelers and the Packers will play in Super Bowl XLV. The Jets made their only appearance - and they made it count damn it - in Super Bowl III. For those of you keeping score at home, it has been XLII years since the Jets upset the supposedly invincible Baltimore Colts. And for those of you keeping score at home who did not attend grammar school in the Greater Ancient Rome Public School District that translates to 42 years. A long time indeed.

The Jets got caught standing around during the first half Sunday night as the Steelers unloaded kegs of Iron City whoop ass all over them. But they refused to cave in. One play after getting removed from the playing surface via spatula courtesy of a hit that resulted in the last touchdown the Steelers would score, Mark Sanchez was back out there chucking and ducking. Sanchez has an incredibly big heart - not surprising for the son of a firefighter perhaps - and significantly more skill than he is given credit for - and both his guts and his talent were on full display in the second half. His team fell five points short. XLII years between Super Bowl appearances rolled with ominous ease into XLIII but Sanchez gave everyone who roots for Florham Park's favorite sons reason to believe heading into next year.

Tougher day in Chi-town for the man who earns his paycheck as the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears. Jay Cutler injured his knee during the first half of the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers and after coming out of the game due to the injury, he never returned. Apparently his non-return to the hostilities turned a fair number of his fellow professional football players - all of whom had seen their seasons end prior to yesterday - into armchair orthopedic surgeons. From their living rooms and their dens all across America, each was able to diagnose that Cutler's problem was not an injury to his knee but, instead, an absence of heart.

The good news for Ricky Gervais is that even if he is on the Golden Globes sh*t list forever, he apparently has a standing gig to emcee any NFL banquet/awards show for the rest of his life, given the venom with which members of what is a small - and I had thought until yesterday fairly close-knit - fraternity attacked a fellow member of the fraternity at the first whiff of blood in the water. From afar - armed with the newest, latest means to defame another (Twitter) - players emerged all over cyberspace chirping about Cutler's apparent lack of intestinal fortitude. Incredible stuff. And all the while their tweeting gave ammunition to sports reporters and columnists who were looking for a story about which to write. If another player thinks a particular player is a quitter, then how can a writer not write about that; right?

Cutler's incredibly scary-looking teammate Brian Urlacher stood up at a post-game press conference and had his quarterback's back. Whether Urlacher believed what he said or said it simply to protect his teammate I know not. But I do know that watching Urlacher snarl at the press post-game led me to write his name - in ink - atop my "People To Not Piss Off Under Any Circumstances" List.

And lost in all of the assault on Cutler's manhood on Sunday afternoon and evening was the fact that he apparently did injure his knee - much to the chagrin of the orthopedic group of Dockett and Jones-Drew. Cutler underwent a MRI study on Monday, which revealed that he had sustained a medial collateral ligament sprain in Sunday's game. How bad an injury was it? Should he have been able to continue to play with it - and through it? I do not pretend to know the answer to those questions. And there is no way that the other players sitting at home watching the game could have known either. Hell, I would bet you $1000 that most of the genius players who were Tweeting about Cutler's injury could not spell the word "knee" let alone explain to you where the MCL is located and what exactly it does. Yet from their various vantage points yesterday they felt secure taking a pot shot at another player. Pathetic. Simply pathetic.

I would breath a sigh of relief if I was any of the mad Tweeters who is heading to Hawaii to play in the Pro Bowl on Sunday, given the fact that Urlacher announced on Monday he is not playing in the game. He has withdrawn due to an injury. Imagine the inspired Tweeting emanating from the accounts of those who bashed his quarterback last Sunday only to find themselves trapped on an island with him this Sunday if Urlacher showed up in Hawaii half as pissed off as he was in his post-game interview. Might actually have made watching what is always a dreadful exhibition of football worth tuning into for a change.

This year for Pittsburgh and for Green Bay, there is one more game to play. A 50/50 shot to finish the season as the last team standing. For everyone else - including the Jets - it is a long way to Opening Day 2011. Again this season, the lights have dimmed on Broadway sooner than the Jets hoped they would. Next season beckons. Another year. Another opportunity. 'Til then life will go on beyond the Palisades. Same as it always has. Same as it always will.

-AK

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