Lichtenstein: Jets Fans Watch Chiefs Break Super Curse And Wonder, 'Will It Ever Be Our Turn?'


Another Super Bowl has passed, the 51st in a row that did not feature the Jets.  Congratulations, Chiefs fans, on breaking your own 50-year curse.

The Lions are now the only other franchise that existed then that has never even competed for an NFL title since the Jets’ 16-7 upset over the Colts in Super Bowl III.

For fans of my age, those on the wrong side of 50 who were also too young to remember what they were doing on January 12, 1969, when No 12 Joe Namath jogged out of the stadium in Miami with his index finger wagging skyward, time is not on our side.

New York Jets head coach Adam Gase (left) talks to Jets former quarterback Joe Namath (right before a game against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct 13, 2019 at MetLife Stadium.Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The “Same Old Jets” refrain didn’t just emerge from the ether.  This nuisance of a cliché was borne out of the cumulative frustrations of thousands of fans who worry that their energy and passions have all been for naught, that Gang Green will never hoist another Lombardi Trophy in their lifetimes.

The current squad is miles away from contention with glaring holes at premium positions on both sides of the ball.  The wait, should we so choose, will have to continue several more years into the 2020s, at least.

I asked five friends who are also diehard Jets fans if they share my concern and how they handle every Roman Numeral that ticks up on Super Bowl Sundays. While some responded optimistically, I know I am not alone when it comes to owning a doom and gloom fate:

John Lappetito, West Windsor, NJ: “I wasn’t much of a football fan (when the Jets won)—I came along after the fact.  I think it’s very unlikely (they win another).  I think they need a top-down change.  As long as the Johnsons own the team, it does not look like he has the apparatus in place and the wherewithal and the knowhow to be successful.  As long as those guys are in charge and don’t at least turn it over to people who do and make better decisions, it looks bleak.  After a while, your soul gets crushed.  Your expectations are so low, I enter every season just assuming we’re not going to get in—even to the playoffs—forget about getting a bye or winning a division.  Every Sunday I watch and I don’t expect them to win. It’s a shame.  This feeling is just terrible.”

Bob DeLuca, Hamilton NJ: “No (the Jets won’t win again in my lifetime).  No hesitation.  Because the ownership doesn’t care about the team winning.  They just care about the money that they make because they have everybody bamboozled.  Every Super Bowl, I say, ‘Why can’t it be my team?  Why can’t we turn it around like (Kansas City and San Francisco) did?’  They were both doormats five years ago.”

Stuart Rosenthal, Berkeley Heights, NJ: “Do I think they will (win again)?  Yes.  Because, I’m hoping to live to 150.  It makes me very angry and very jealous (watching the Super Bowl).  One year, when Brett Favre was a Jet, when they were 8-3, I bought tickets to fly to Miami so I then wouldn’t have to overpay, thinking I was going to the Super Bowl. I ended up flying to Florida and watching the stupid Super Bowl from my uncle’s house."

Joe Irace, Oceanport, NJ: “I was four years old for the Super Bowl—I don’t remember it.  As a matter of fact, I remember Joe Namath with the Rams more than I do with the Jets.  Unfortunately, we’ve had more bad than good.  I look at my kids, and I hope they win one in their lifetimes because we’re all rabid.  I gotta hope so, by luck of the draw.  You go through all these years with top picks, getting the quarterback you want, getting guys you want, and still it never works out.  I gotta think they’re gonna win one in our lifetime by luck of the draw—we got to have, what, another 20 years?  Why if we get an offensive line for Darnold, can’t we be good?  You sit there (watching the Super Bowl) and go, ‘Why can’t we get there?’ You look at the game and it’s almost a different game when you the Jets play and then you watch the Chiefs play. It’s like they’re playing two different sports.  It’s depressing."

Edward Levy, Mahopac NY: "My older brother was a big Jets fan and when I was growing up, I watched the games (with him).  I think at some point they’ll get lucky enough to win one again in my lifetime.  On a year to year basis, I’m not optimistic, especially with (Adam) Gase coaching. They can’t be that inept for that many years and not be able to get that guy one day.  I think the NFL, probably more so than any other league, at any point you’re a player or two away and, more importantly, a good coach away from making the playoffs and having a shot."

OK, not exactly a random sample, but then again there must be some particular genetic deformity that makes one a Jets fan in the first place.  After that disgraceful loss in Buffalo in the 2015 season finale (and thank you, Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins, for triggering my Twitter feed with reminders of how he toasted Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis that day), I suggested that Jets fandom was a mental illness.  You know, because we come back every year and expect different results.

Unfortunately, I never found the cure.  I’ve learned the hard way that superstitions, birthday wishes, and other paranormal activities don’t create the magic.

Will it ever happen in my lifetime?  I am keenly aware that the odds get worse each passing year.

Even safety Jamal Adams, the Jets’ best player, must have doubts.  He tweeted yesterday, “I’ll win a Super Bowl one day!” Notice that he didn’t specify that it would be with the Jets.

For a FAN’s perspective of the Nets, Devils and Jets, follow Steve on Twitter @SteveLichtenst1.