Why Ask Why?
By Kevin Newell
Jets Head Writer
August 3rd, 2003
Come on Jets Fans, lets focus on the good times!
Come on Jets Fans, lets focus on the good times!
During the past two weeks I have read two stories on this site that conjured up the demons of the early and mid 1990's and the heartbreaking game's that got away, a.k.a., the tragic loss to Cleveland in the 1986 Divisional playoffs.

My question is this: Why ask why? What's the point? To put it in perspective: Chad Pennington was in grade school when Mark Gastineau speared Bernie Kosar. Okay? He was in high school when Rich Kotite walked the sidelines at the Meadowlands. Get over it. I'm tired of looking up the word pessimist in the dictionary, only to see some guy wearing a Browning Nagle jersey.

What is the obsession with dwelling on losses and dysfunction? Why must we continue to dredge up games that happened in 1986? 1991? 1995? It may be cathartic but I find it a bit odd. Everyone knows the history of the New York Jets; none more so than Jets fans. That's why they call it history.

Believe me, with my family having been season ticket holders since 1977; I have witnessed - both in person and on television - my share of atrocities. I have lived with the angst of donning the green and white. That's all part of being a fan. Hey, it could be worse. We could be Red Sox fans. Or Chicago Cubs fans. Or Arizona Cardinals fans.

Stop your bitching. A new era is dawning.

It's all been written and rewritten. It's all been said. Yes, the Jets were the laughingstock of the National Football League. We have been scarred - some of us apparently for life - but scars heal. There's an old saying: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Let's move on, shall we?

Let us not forget that many championship franchises in the NFL had to walk before they could run. It's just taken us a little longer. Look at the Pittsburgh Steelers (1933). Their history was even worse than the Jets before becoming a dynasty in the 1970s. And they've been at it for a lot longer than us. The San Francisco 49ers (1946) were an average at best franchise before Bill Walsh and Joe Montana came to town. Ditto the Niners' lengthy existence.

We may not, and probably won't, win four and five Super Bowls, respectively. Heck, at least we have one gleaming Lombardi Trophy to call our own. There are 16 NFL franchises that do not. So you see, we also have a proud history, albeit a distant one.

Why ask why?

The last time I checked, the Jets have at long last moved into the penthouse of teams in the NFL. That was clearly evident by being chosen to play in the American Bowl, the first time a Jets team played overseas in its 40-year history.

Yes, we lost, but that's why it is called an "exhibition game." The first one of the season and after just a little over a week of training camp. But you couldn't tell by some of the posts on this site's messageboard. Some fans act as if the sky is falling. It's not a matter if the glass is half-full or half-empty with some Jets fans. It's, the glass is leaking and the water is toxic. Enough!

Since 1997 we have won two AFC East Divisional titles - a first in franchise history. We haven't had a losing season since the 1-15 debacle of 1996. Since then we've gone 57-39. We have a rising star coach in Herman Edwards, a man with a plan and the respect of his players who has guided the team to successive playoff appearances, something we haven't done since 1985-1986. We have an owner in Woody Johnson who has vision and determination. We have a young quarterback that is on the cusp of greatness. Perhaps a new stadium to call our own before the end of the decade. I can think of worse positions to be in.

Why ask why?

Yes, the promise of 1999 was torn from our collective grasp when Vinny Testaverde tore his Achilles on Opening Day. Yes, that three game collapse under Al Groh in 2000 kept us out of the playoffs.

Sure, any Jets fan worth his or her Al Toon Starting Lineup figure can recall Blair Thomas's fumble in Chicago that Monday night nearly a decade ago. So? Correct me if I am wrong, but we have played in some memorable games - one's we have actually won - during the past seven years. Games that are defining our present and future.

As anyone forgotten the magical ride of the 1998 season. Is the Monday Night Miracle victory over Miami a distant memory? It was only voted the most memorable (read greatest game) in the history of Monday Night Football! How about the Monday night comeback against New England that same year? Or that victory on the road in Tampa Bay? Here's one: John Hall's 53-yard field goal on the road in Oakland - a nefarious place where previous Jets teams have gone to die - that lifted us into the playoffs? More recently, last season's dramatic win over Green Bay and the ensuing 41-0 demolition of Indianapolis in the opening round of the playoffs have buried the likes of Kotite, Nagle, and Joe Walton.

So take your Blair Thomas mishaps and Ken O'Brien interceptions and Mark Gastineau late hits and burn them on the funeral pyre. Discard them from your memory banks. Get on with your lives. (Unless you're a masochist.)

Folks, newsflash: Ding, dong the witch is dead! You can keep your horrific past. I'm moving on.

Why ask why?