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New York Jets

Leap of Faith by Matt Waters

Matthew 20:16 — "So, the last will be first, and the first will be last"

Because the colors.

The years blur together. Speed past one of many haunted avenues. Fullback Leon Johnson has a decision to make. While galloping along the rock hard turf surfacing Detroit’s Super Dome, he can either break forward past a line of scrimmage for the temporary salvation of a broken play, or he can pass, play the hero of circumstance, and prove one of Bill Parcells’ worst game deciding hunches correct. A berth in the playoffs is in the balance. A season after finishing 1-15, the New York Jets, official punch line for the A.F.C., are a single decision away from a previously unthinkable wild card invitation to the Post Season. The clock is ticking. Lion defenders, also fighting with vigor for their Playoff lives, viciously close in on Johnson. A touchdown pass would have won it.

An interception lost it.

The Jets go home.Hit the gas. The memories are part of a greater puzzle, each piece fitting perfectly in a Football God’s planned and purposeful response to Joe Namath’s everlasting bravado. All the positive karma existing within the Franchise’s pores was expunged on one single game.

J.E.T.S. Just End the Season, for those inquiring minds.

And how the seasons would end, crashing and burning with fiery tumult that the headlines would merely suggest. Super Bowl dreams fade blankly with a blown Achilles. Doug Brien misses. Twice. The Jets fumble away victory at Mile High, a second Super Bowl appearance, with Vinny Testaverde, Wayne Chrebet, Keyshawn Johnson, Curtis Martin, all of them, in their primes. Not good enough.

The Jets grasping defeat from clenched jaws of victory is a yearly tradition, played out with all the Greek trappings of tragedy. Often, the bitter followers of the team became more of a story than Gang Green itself, this trend reaching its utter apex in ’95, when two New Jersey Natives attempted to set off an explosion in the upper deck of an empty stadium. While the Meadowlands might have benefited from a sizable facelift, the protagonists were arrested before their uprising could be launched.

The real amazing part of it is our constant surprise. We’re either a real resilient bunch, or fueled by tainted perception. [The alcohol helps] It’s why the agony is consistently palatable. A Jet season kissing the abyss is always a new journey into Dante’s Inferno, the first time every time.

Perhaps it’s the ultimate expression of faith. Jets fans, all of us, continue with vigilance in waiting for our final judgment, a day when we can call a championship all our own.

It might as well be a doomsday’s away.

The hope springs forward from resilience. Easy it is to believe infallibility within the cozy confines of Training Camp, when the Secondary is shaping up just fine, when the always new and improved offensive is taking root, and when the head coach lacks any requisite negativity to spout about last week’s game. When the lip is busted, when the legs are shaken, when the cell phone is broken because of a heat breaking loss, only then is when faith is tested. Belief is a blind leap across an empty chasm, trusting that someone or something is waiting diligently at the bottom, ready to make a clutch catch. It’s not easy when your team, often the outlet for this faith, is dropping the ball.

No season has tested this fragile notion quite as 2005. The ghastly conclusion to the 2004 campaign had left an albatross hanging around the necks of both organization and fan base. What had been a surprising, albeit partially schedule aided drive toward glory ended with all the poetic synchronization of a courtesy flush. It featured a kicker’s meltdown, a coaching breakdown, and an offensive embarrassment. Despite this nightmarish caveat, Jets fans continued piling into the Church of our Holy Bandwagon, shiny new shutdown corner Ty Law well in tow.

What was expected? A Divisional Title, at least one January tilt with home field advantage, and finally, was a Super Bowl so much to ask?

What was given? A regularly scheduled visit from our old friend Murphy, laughing devilishly with his law in one hand and a bottle of jack in the other, the latter suggesting we dim our senses toward next year, when what could go right would.

This season will evaporate in time, a missing link, a forgotten somewhere, a mistaken someone, no place in time and no fit in rhyme, a waste.

Despite it’s apparent pointlessness, a definition could be found. Life is defined in the details, and among the current wreckage stands John Abraham. The enigmatic defensive lineman, whose blotter low lights include a violation for drunk driving, often missed key layers of season’s past, with assorted ailments. He would show a bounty of brilliance before heading off to the injured list, testing the patience of his peers and coaches alike. It seemed not a single person could figure out John Abraham.

Most recently, John sat out the stretch drive and playoffs of the 2004 road to infamy. This choice was preceded with a comment in which he insinuated that securing his future with a multi-year contract was a better option than attempting to play wounded.

John never would suit up, despite an avalanche of criticism. He further angered many with his hold out before 2005 training camp, citing his displeasure at being tagged as a franchise player, keeping him on the team without that precious long-term deal.

At this point, it was believed Abraham would never click, on the field and off.

Amid the catastrophe of ’05, an enigma known as John Abraham found him self. He is ranked in the upper echelon of defensive ends due to a hungrier style of play, and a reformed personality is drawing raves within the locker room. He is piling up sacks on a team going nowhere. In the end, fate once again refused to coincide with reality. Abraham could now finally be counted on.

Abraham is a free agent after the Super Bowl.

Irony may be painted green and white.

Another instance where one ponders, why did I choose the Jets?

By mw2828

Matt Waters is a screenwriter currently living in New York. He has been writing about sports since age seventeen, about the time when it became painfully apparent that his athletic dreams would go unfulfilled, due to terrible luck and an obscene lack of talent. His favorite movie is “The Thin Red Line”. His favorite band is “Modest Mouse”. His favorite sport is baseball! With an exclamation point.

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