Andrew Sharp is a featured columnist and editor at SBNation.com, a distinguished colleague, and a really talented, entertaining writer. He pontificates on all sports from unique angles, and in general, his pieces are a pleasure to read.
Yesterday, however, he brought forth this headline: "Rex Ryan, The New York Jets, And Why America Should Root For The New Bad Guys".
So, yeah. That needs to be addressed. We'll handle it after the jump.
For those of you who read that headline and steadfastly refuse to read the article - I know you exist, and I do not blame you in the least - just know that the basis of Sharp's thesis lies in a comparison between the 2010 Jets and the 1986 New York Mets, who won the World Series despite a spate of off-field issues and a brash, Rex Ryan-like attitude.
Then I thought of Jeff Pearlman's ode to the 1986 Mets, The Bad Guys Won, and I realized--that's New York this year. The Jets are the NFL's Bad Guys.
Sure. The Jets are controversial, to say the least. There are zero NFL teams that can claim a squeaky-clean record. Rivalries and arrogance reign supreme across every city, even ones that currently house crappy football teams. The Jets are just a highly concentrated version of what makes the NFL polarizing. If that makes them some people's "bad guys," then so be it - but they are unique only in quantity.
And 25 years after the '86 Mets, it's impossible to root against the Jets.
The blatant untruth of this statement is baffling. Raise your hand if you have any trouble rooting against the Jets. Everyone put their hands down. Now raise your hand if you didn't raise your hand. Hello, 212!
Don't get me wrong. On an individual basis, it's easy to hate the Jets.
There have been plenty of opportunities to point at the Jets and call them obnoxious, overrated, blowhards... But think about the Jets as a whole. As a true team. Like a comet comprised of unstable elements, powered by cockiness and complete, utter lunacy. Perpetually on the verge of self combustion, but now soaring past all the stars. First Peyton. Then Brady. This week, Big Ben.
... yeah, I hate them. Please, go on.
Pittsburgh. Obnoxious fans? (Check.) Obnoxious players? Hines Ward and James Harrison! A superstar quarterback accused of sexual assault on multiple occasions that went largely unpunished and is constantly lionized by announcers for his intangibles? Hey, give the Steelers fans credit: They waited at least a month before going back to worshiping Ben Roethlisberger and pretending this summer was all just a misunderstanding. NO MEANS NO MEANS... GO STEELERS.
America should root for the Jets because they're the lovable bad boys, but America should be irritated by the Steelers because they've had a lot of the same issues (with one serious exception) as the Jets. I get that I don't get that logic.
Packers. Everybody loves Green Bay and their fans. You know this because every single time someone mentions the Green Bay Packers, it's followed with, "...And they've got those great fans!" Well, whatever. There are a lot of awesome fan bases in the NFL. The Redskins and Chiefs, for instance. And those fans are from cities that actually have alternatives to football, making their commitment more impressive, and the Cheesehead slobbering all the more obnoxious. Packers fans deserve a title like 20 other fan bases deserve a title. Get over it.
Packers fans have titles, plural. Jets fans have one too, if you recall. But we're not rooting for fan bases, right? I thought we were supposed to be rooting for bad boys? Hey, Spencer Havner has a DUI! Johnny Jolly is a suspended codeine pusher! And hey, they once employed Brett Favre for a few years, and even won a ring with him!
Bears. Is there anything more annoying than the Bears masquerading as a good team and Jay Cutler masquerading as a Pro Bowl quarterback? Oh, I can think of one thing: Having to call Jay Cutler a Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the next decade.
Jets. Is there anything more annoying than the Jets masquerading as a good team and Mark Sanchez masquerading as a playoff hero? Oh, I can think of one thing: Having to call Mark Sanchez a Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the next decade.
You may not like Rex Ryan's style, but if you don't, you probably hate America, too.
I do not like Rex Ryan's style, and I do not hate America. I was very good at truth tables and logic in high school math; let me assure you that this is true.
And best of all, they piss all over moralists like Tony Dungy, refusing to apologize for any of it.
How awesome is THAT?!
What more could you want? Teams like the Jets make sports more fun.
This, at last, is a good point. I have a great time hating the New York Jets, and look forward to hating them any time they're mentioned. They are extremely fun to hate. That doesn't mean I have to openly pine for the opportunity to keep hating them through the first weekend in February. It's OK to want to take a break from hating something, right?
And even if this year's Jets have sometimes looked like a cast of cartoon characters, that's still better than the faceless machine being powered by Belichick up in New England.
Oh, yeah. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick? Who the hell's ever heard of them? Ripped them to shreds on sports blogs? Loved to hate them? Wholly anonymous sports figures. And nobody thinks Devin McCourty is the next Darrelle Revis. Zero people.
But after a year in which we all had to concede to Bill Belichick's unyielding genius, it's nice to know that a dyslexic blowhard with a stupid grin can one-up the stonefaced mastermind that everyone lives to fear.
I seem to remember the militant Tom Coughlin doing the same thing. Bill Belichick's genius is not unyielding, and perfectly ordinary coaches beat his football teams. Gregg Williams did it once, for God's sake. This is supposed to make Rex Ryan endearing? Is Eric Mangini endearing?
Sports are supposed to be fun. Sports are supposed to be entertaining. Sports are supposed to give us something to romanticize.
Agreed. Sorry, Andrew, but I'm going to have a ton of fun rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. I'll be wholly entertained rooting against the Jets, and will be accordingly crushed should they win two more games this season. As for romanticizing something, rest assured that I do not believe that your stance on this particular issue has any bearing whatsoever on your opinion of America.
No, Mr. Sharp. Just... no.