New York is one of the biggest media markets in the world. Southern Illinois is a small farming community. The same community that housed Southern Illinois Univeristy, alma mater Bart Scott, but from his MNF introductions, you'd never know. Its an area that is has not been claimed by a single professional team as their territory. Rams fans, Bears fans, Colts fans, and Titans fans intermingle with the largest two being the Rams and Bears fans. Imagine living in such a football gray area and being the only Jets fan you know. This is a sneak peak into the life of such a Jets fan, stranded so far from home.
I could write for hours about my life as a Jets fan stranded in the midwest, but I'll keep it reasonable and relevent. No one seemed to mind me being a Jets fan until 2009. Enter Rex Ryan and his bravado and Bart Scott and his swagger. When national sports media began to feed on the Jets and our new found sense of pride, my life as a fan changed.
Everyone had their opinion of the Jets and very few of them understood the fan dynamic. We are a hardworking fanbase, middle class and proud. The bravado that Ryan brought to the Jets reinvigorated my love for the team. I had a team that seemed to care as much as I did after years of what seemed like indifference. In the first years under Ryan, as I would sit at the bar at Buffalo Wild Wings and watch the games, each fan regardless of affinity, would openly root against us. The Jets somehow found a way to shut them up with big wins. I finally had a feeling that the team had my back as much as I had its.
Enter last season. The media ripped us apart over an 8-8 finish, but as a long time Jets fan, there were many more disappointing seasons when I would have gladly finished 8-8. As a Jets fan, I always expect us to fail, being only 23, I've yet to see us succeed, but every small victory reminds me of why I am a Jets fan. Its who we are as a fan base, always against the odds, one with the underdogs.
Now the biggest debacle of recent memory, Tim Tebow. Deep down, I know Tebow brings an element to our team which can be useful. He is dangerous on the run, and if used correctly, I feel he can make us a better team. His appearance on our roster; however, has made my life as a fan harder. 17 hours away from NYC and even people here are chanting Tebow. I can't go enter an establishment where I'm known as a Jets fan without someone asking me about Tebow. I even had a man have a bartender make a drink she called a Tebow, just because he knew how against Tebow being our QB I am. (for the record it was rum chata and sour apple pucker. white and green alcohols respectively.)
I must say this is one of the few seasons I've entered thinking we would actually make the playoffs. I assume, as a Jets fan, that thought will come back and bite me. Life in the middle of no where became a little more tolerable Friday as the green and white took the field. For those of you lucky enough to enjoy the Jets from America's greatest city, rest assured Jetsnation still shines even if the most unlikely of places.