Il bacio della morte. The mafia kiss of death. "I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart." The words spoken by Godfather Michael Corleone to his brother just as he dooms Fredo with Il bacio della morte. Here in Jetland we have a similar phenomenon. It is Rex Ryan's kiss of death. When Rex starts talking about a scrub like he's a budding Hall of Famer, you know the scrub is not long for the NFL.
First there was Ropati Pitoitua, a giant of a man at 6'8", 320 lbs and an unheralded rookie in his mid 20's looking to catch on with the Jets. Ropati caught Rex's eye. In Rex's first year with the Jets Rex for some reason became enamored with Ropati's potential and started talking him up as the next great Jets defensive lineman. Next thing you know Ptoitua goes down with a season ending injury, ending his Jets career and beginning a series of journeyman pitstops in an utterly forgettable career.
Then there was Jamaal Westerman. Remember him? He was going to be the Jets designated pass rusher, a man with tremendous potential waiting to be unleashed. After one nondescript year with the Jets, he somehow lost all that potential and was released. He proceeded to bounce around with the Colts and the Cardinals last year, producing almost nothing, and will now be lucky to make an NFL roster in 2013.
Next up: Eric Smith. Anyone remember how Smith looked like Ed Reed on the football field? How about this quote: " I'll take Eric Smith every day of the week. He's a tremendous football player". That's THE Eric Smith. The one we Jets fans had the dubious honor of watching destroy our secondary on a weekly basis. The one that single handedly blew the Tebow game in Denver. And the one who is now on the streets, looking for a job in the NFL and finding no takers.
Then there was Aaron Maybin. Remember this quote ""Maybin has just scratched the surface. I think he's going to benefit from Dunbar. I expect him to have a big year rushing the passer." ? Remember how Maybin was allegedly destroying the offense last training camp, how he was all but unblockable? Then came this 2012 stat line: 8 games, zero sacks, 1 tackle. Now he's an ex Jet looking to catch on with the Bengals and hoping his NFL career isn't over.
And now we have Hayden Smith. Rumblings out of OTAs suggest Smith is tearing it up and that he was all but uncoverable in practice last year. A budding superstar in the making. Uh oh. Mr. Smith better watch his back. He may have just gotten the deadly Il bacio della morte treatment from Rex. Let's hope we all won't be saying this time next year "You broke my heart Hayden..."