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New York Jets: Why Do We Carry On?

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Al Bello

If you don't want to watch the Jets for the rest of the year I don't blame you. Nobody should hold it against you if you choose to not use your tickets. Things are not pretty for the New York Jets right now. There are probably still a few nice fall weekends left for you to enjoy without the aggravation this team provides.

I think it is fair to say this has been a rough four year stretch for Jets fans. The team has provided much more disappointment than success. The worst part is how difficult it is to see the light at the other end of the tunnel. By almost all indications this franchise is not moving in the right direction. Two years into a new general manager tenure it is difficult to see substantial progress.

It's one thing if you came aboard recently. Maybe Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez drew you to this team. You caught onto the wave when the Jets were flying high making deep postseason runs. It's different for people like me who lived through the 1990's. It felt like things were finally coming together for the Jets, and we were looking at a long period where the Jets would be contenders. Hopefully we would get a Super Bowl or two. We had earned it with all of the suffering. We thought we had done our time suffering with a lousy franchise. Now we were going to get our reward.

Alas it was not to be. There was more suffering to come, and there will probably be more suffering ahead. And there are a lot of people on this site who go back even further than me and have suffered even more heartbreak.

Is it all worth it? Let me tell you a story.

When I was a kid I rooted for the Yankees just as hard as I rooted for the Jets. Right around the time I was starting to watch baseball, the Yankees produced five homegrown stars who all emerged around the same time, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada. The team had the resources and the smarts to surround these young stars with grizzled veteran role players like Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill, David Cone, Orlando Hernandez, and others.

It was the perfect mix. Those Yankees teams were like a machine. They won four championships and went to five World Series in a six year stretch. They just had a knack for always coming through in a big spot. If you hated the Yankees you could find reasons to dislike them, their superior resources, the charmed life of Jeter, O'Neill's tendency to throw temper tantrums in the dugout, etc. You had to respect the way these guys always came through when it mattered. Teams like that don't come around often. The Yankees assembled plenty of rosters with more talent in subsequent years, but they feel well short of the success that group found.

I grew up expecting things to always go right for my baseball team. It was a magical way to spend my young years as a sports fan. At the time it was impossible to realize how few people got to have a childhood like that as a fan.

Those teams will always have a special place in my heart. I never really suffered, though. My first year watching baseball the Yankees came up short in a tight pennant race against Toronto. The year before that first World Series I had my heart ripped out in a series against Seattle when the Yankees blew a million chances to win. Disappointments like that were few compared to the joys I felt.

Things were different with the Jets. They always found a way to break my heart. Just as I always had inherent faith the Yankees would find a way to come through, I always believed the Jets would end up crushing me, and they never disappointed.

But when you suffer as a fan, it makes you appreciate the good times. When Jerricho Cotchery made that big run down the right sideline four years ago in that playoff game in Foxborough, who do you think it meant more to? Somebody who jumped aboard the Rex bandwagon or me, the guy who sat through a driving rainstorm until the bitter end of a blowout loss to the Oilers during the Kotite years? Those of us who sat watching terrible Jets teams year after year always persevered because we hoped one day we would see a reward for our pain even though there were never any guarantees.

The Rex Ryan Era seems to be coming to its close. It's sad, but it's time. Rex will be fine. He'll be one of the hottest defensive coordinator candidates in the NFL. He'll probably do well enough to eventually get a second chance as a head coach for a small market team that needs to make a splash just like his dad did. Maybe he'll choose for an easier lifestyle and take his personality to television. Or maybe he'll look for a different challenge and go to college. Perhaps he'll go work on the Clemson staff for a year to spend time with his son. Ten years from now the Jets will probably bring him back, and he'll get a nice ovation at MetLife Stadium. He'll deserve it for the excitement he'll bring to this team.

Things don't look so great for John Idzik. Barring something unforseen, he will likely go down in this team's history with reviled names like Lou Holtz, Rich Kotite, and Paul Hackett. He'll ultimately be fine also, however. He'll probably never get another general manager's job after this, but the NFL is an old boy's network. He's one of them, and they take care of their own. He'll find work in the league again.

Long after both are gone, you and I will still be rooting for the Jets. One day we'll have our day in the sun. Hopefully we all stay in good enough health to see it. At some point SB Nation will probably find somebody better to take this site over so I'm not sure it will be when I'm around here, but I'll always love the Jets.

So why do we keep watching? I can't tell you what to do, but I'll be watching every game for the rest of the year. I'll remember every painful moment. It will make it that much sweeter when the Jets finally do put things together. I hope you'll join me, especially if you are new to the pain. When the Jets finally do reach the peak, it will make things that much sweeter for you also.