Today is a tough day to be a New York Jets fan, and it isn't just because our team wasn't playing. It also isn't just that the two teams that Jets fans least wanted to see in the big game made it, or how they made it despite the fact that their opponents mostly outplayed them. It isn't just the knowledge that now, one of two groups of loudmouthed fans will get to spend the next year rubbing it in. It's having to choose. You can either pass on the game entirely and disappoint the people who would enjoy watching it with you, or you can choose whichever team you view as the lesser evil. There are no happy options here, but that still doesn't mean you shouldn't try to find reasons to be happy.
Come Super Bowl Sunday, I will be watching the big game in a house on Long Island, and I will be completely surrounded by Giants fans. My friend invited me over to his family's Super Bowl party before we knew who it would be, and I said yes. At some point a few of the people there will make Jets jokes. I will grin and bear it, because that is all we can do. The truth is though, I will be ecstatic to be there watching it with them, because as fun (or heart wrenching) as football can be, there are always more important things. In this case, the important thing is my friend. Back in September he had a sizable tumor removed from his lung, and he has been fighting through infections and the effects of chemotherapy ever since. I will be overjoyed to be sitting with him, watching a game we both love very much, even if I can't stand the teams involved in it.
Pain is part of the human experience, and it is important to remember that the pain you feel over this is pretty tame compared to the pains one could be feeling. I never understand how people can wish harm on others just because they support a different team. Every team has a fanbase, and every fanbase feels pain at some point. This year we felt the pain a little sooner than the last two years. And there's no doubt that being that close is a more intense sort of pain than being a fan of , say, the Bucs or the Bills. But it's still worth remembering that tides turn in the NFL, and that we are not that far away from being the ones who get to spend an entire offseason bragging. Some day it will be us.
Today is a prime example of how close any team is, in any given year, to signing (Wes Welker, Victor Cruz) or drafting (Rob Gronkowski, Jason Pierre Paul) the right player who will put them over the top and take them from contender to champion. If you have a good coach and a front office that tries, you should always have hope. Our Jets have a couple of key spots to fill, but it is still just a couple of spots. We could be one good or lucky draft pick and one or two solid FA signings away from going from a feisty contender to a legit dynasty. That's how football works. So there really is no reason to feel despair. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. And even if you really can't stomach watching the two teams that you least wanted to be in the Super Bowl fight it out for a title, just take heart in the fact that the draft is only a few months away, and training camp is soon thereafter. Nightmares end. Life goes on. We'll all be just fine.