Today is the anniversary of the greatest moment in Jets franchise history.
Matt Snell scored the game’s only touchdown in the second quarter to open the scoring. It gave the Jets a lead they would never relinquish. Joe Namath was named the game’s MVP, throwing for 206 yards.
I think this is a happy day and a sad day for Jets fans.
It is happy because we get to celebrate an iconic moment for the team. And it doubled as one of the most significant moments in the history of the sport. The Jets’ victory provided legitimacy for the American Football League, the first time its champion defeated the champion of the more established National Football League in the Super Bowl.
The circumstances surrounding the game add to its lore. The Jets were 18 point underdogs when their star quarterback guaranteed a win sitting by a pool in Miami. Many players have guaranteed wins in significant games since then. None have ever resonated like the original.
While we celebrate the 1968-69 Jets today, it also is a bit melancholy. This day is also a reminder that five decades have passed since the last time our team has won a championship. Most of us have no idea what it is like to watch the Jets win the sport’s ultimate prize. The lucky among us who do are either at or approaching retirement age.
It is a very long drought. In the same city, the New York Rangers once went 54 years without winning a championship and were thought to be cursed. The Jets are now just four years away from matching that level of futility.
There isn’t any one reason a team goes 50 years without winning a championship. There has been a lot of bad football. There has been bad luck along the way. There have even been a few championship-caliber teams who just couldn’t get the job done in the end for whatever reason. It’s always a combination of things when a fanbase is forced to wait this long.
Three years ago we saw the longest championship drought in North American sports end when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. While 50 years is bad, the Cubs went from 1908 to 2016 without winning a title, an incredible 108 year stretch. Generations of fans came and went without seeing a championship.
During the Cubs’ run in 2016 I saw a video frequently pop up.
That came during the final game of the 1991 season. Legendary Cubs announcer Harry Caray assured Cubs fans that one day the team would eventually see glory.
That day came 25 years later. Sadly, Harry Caray didn’t get to see it. He died in 1998.
If you follow sports, you know that all championship droughts eventually come to an end. So I’m here to tell you that one day the Jets will win the Super Bowl. I don’t know when it will be. I don’t know whether it will be with Adam Gase or Sam Darnold. I certainly hope it won’t come 18 years after I die.
But it will come. And all of the suffering Jets fans went through to get there will make it sweeter.