This blog post is not about the Washington Wizards. It does, however, deal with an underperforming sports team that I love. There's a connection.
For the past 37 plus years, I've been a die-hard New York Jets fan. Yes, not only did I choose to start a blog about one of the lowest performing NBA teams (the Washington Wizards), I'm also a fan of one of the lowest performing NFL franchises. I fell in love with the Jets when my mom and dad moved me and my sister to the United States in 1979. I think it was probably the design of the helmet that did it. Could have been a Patriots or Giants fan living in Connecticut but I ended up with the Jets.
Since I was 11, I've rooted for the Jets every year and seen them achieve relatively little. Yep, in 38 seasons (including this year) I've seen my beloved Jets win two division titles and play in four AFC Championship games. That's it. That's all I got for almost four decades of beating my heart against a wall. I even spent two of those years as a season ticket holder while I was living in the Washington, D.C. area. That's dedication, folks. The two division titles by the way is the fewest of any team from 1979 to now. The Jacksonville Jaguars are tied with the Jets but they entered the league in the '90s.
When I was younger before I really understood how big my new home was, I always wanted to go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Canton, Ohio. Wherever that was. Football (and the Jets) was my number one sport for a little more than 20 years before I became an obsessed Wizards fan and I dreamed of getting to a spot in the middle of nowhere of a state I'd never been to somewhere in the midwest so I could learn more about my favorite game.
Last month, I made it to the Hall on my trying-so-hard-to-be-annual D-League swing. This journey took me through Canton, Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania with a stop for drinks in Cleveland before the thing really got going. I couldn't pass up the Hall of Fame that I'd so long wanted to visit and see more than anything else, the players that I'd watched play in green and white for my beloved New York Jets.
But there was a problem. There aren't really any New York Jets that I've watched in the Hall of Fame. I found this surprising. Go ahead, mock me. I mean I get that the Jets have been terrible for the better part of four decades but I think we've had some pretty darned good players over that period of time. And don't tons of guys make it into the Hall every year? I can remember the New York Sack Exchange, the D-line that terrorized opponents' quarterbacks in the early '80s. We seemed to have some great receivers over the years in Wesley Walker, Al Toon and Keyshawn Johnson. And what about some of our offensive linemen like Marvin Powell and Joe Fields? Or Pat Leahy, our place kicker that seemed to be on the team forever when I was a kid.
Ummm...no. None of those guys are in the Hall.
So who is? There has to be someone, right? Well there are. The obvious two are Joe Namath and Don Maynard, the quarterback and receiver combo that shocked the football world in 1969 by beating the NFL's Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. That win legitimized the AFL's existence and ultimately led to a merger between the two leagues. Their coach, Weeb Ewbank, is also in the Hall.
After that, it's some tough sledding. Yes, there have been a number of players that have been on a Jets roster that have become hall of famers recently. Art Monk (played one year after a stellar career with Washington); Ronnie Lott (two years after multiple Super Bowls with the 49ers); Brett Favre (also one year and we won't talk much about that); and John Riggins (Jets gave up on him; he delivered a title in Washington) are all enshrined.
The Hall sells t-shirts with the inductees from each team screenprinted on the shirts. They include Riggins on the Jets shirts but not the others in the previous paragraph. I would disagree with that but I also wasn't watching the team when Riggins was on the roster. Know how many Jets there are in the Hall that I've watched? ONE! Curtis Martin. That's it. 38 years. Two division titles. One Hall of Fame inductee. That's it. How do I pick these teams? It's moments like this that I wonder if I'll ever see a team I love win it all.
Now there is some hope for more Jets in the Hall. This year there are five players in the list of nominees with a Jets history. Four (Jason Taylor, LaDanian Tomlinson, Alan Faneca and Ty Law) are in the same category as Favre and Co. But Kevin Mawae, the center who anchored the Jets O-line for eight years, is also on the list. He spent more seasons with the Jets than any other team so I'd have to consider Kevin a Jet when he enters the Hall, which I have to believe he will at some time. In the meantime, I'll keep hoping. The Jets once again disappointed me this year.
This blog post wraps my Midwest D-League swing. Back to Wizards coverage, I promise. Looking good at home lately. We just got to do better on the road.