There seems to be some sort of movement among those close to the Giants to claim the two New York teams are in direct competition this year. Ian O'Connor said so in an ESPN New York article. Mike Francesa used some of his trademark bluster this morning, claiming the stadium belongs to the Giants and that the Jets are in their shadows over past accomplishments. Ed Valentine of SB Nation New York made a rather bold claim on this topic today.
For me, this is a little bit like the Yankees vs. the Mets. Remember back in 2000 when the two New York teams met in the World Series? The Yankees won, putting an exclamation point on their hold over New York's baseball landscape. Even if the Mets had won the championship that season, however, New York would still belong to the Yankees when it comes to baseball.
For me, this whole Giants-Jets dynamic feels a little bit the same way. The Giants have so much more history, and a recent study put them as the third-most popular franchise in the NFL while the Jets were ranked 18th.
O'Connor is a professional writer entitled to his opinion. Francesa has done more to discredit himself than when talking about the Jets in the past twelve months than any sports journalist in recent memory. Ed I consider a friend. He's a great guy. I don't agree with any of them, however.
The Jets aren't chasing the Giants. The teams do not play this year. The Giants have a better history. They have more fans. What does it really matter, though? The Cardinals were in the Super Bowl two years ago. They have a historically apathetic fan base. Did that make their run any less special? I'd rather have my team hoist the Lombardi Trophy than win vague popularity contests.
The focus of the Jets is on Miami and New England in the division. It is on San Diego, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore in the AFC. The goal is to win the Super Bowl. The Giants play no role and will not unless they are the Jets' Super Bowl opponent.
If the Jets are more successful on the field than the Giants, new fans will flock to them, and they will become the most popular team in the city just like the Mets overtook the Yankees in the 1980's. That's really not important, though. Let Francesa worry about symbolic victories. Let Brandon Jacobs worry about the preseason championship. What the Giants do is not Gang Green's concern.