The Giants may have a better record but the Jets are more exciting. Randy O'Rourke/Jets Insider.com
Most of last week I read articles describing the exciting showdown that would take place on Sunday at the Meadowlands between the heated rivals and roommates of the swampland. Can anyone say “ho-hum”? Look, I won’t say that Sunday’s game wasn’t exciting; it was an exhilarating contest and even though the outcome was not what I had hoped for the game did leave me breathless. This game had a little bit of everything. If you were just watching this game as a pure fan of football you had to be thoroughly entertained. The only thing that this game didn’t have was a meaningful history between the two teams playing.
I know that there are legions of Giant and Jet fans out there who disagree with me. I still stand by my statement. What real animosity should I feel towards the Giants? Why should a Giant fan feel anything more than indifference towards the Jets?
I have heard some people claim that this rivalry should be mentioned in the same breath as the Yankees and Mets or Rangers and Islanders but I disagree. In the case of the Yankees and Mets there are constant battles for the back page limelight from early March through late October, it spans 162 regular season games that are played on an almost daily basis. They play each other six times a year and have even contested against each other in a championship series. It is true some of the luster has been dulled in recent years but deep down there is still a very real and heated feeling of resentment between the fans of both teams.
When you attempt a comparison between the New York football squads squaring off in regard to the hockey clubs then you begin to propose something truly laughable. Both the Rangers and Islanders actively compete against each other in the same division and work against each other all year for top (and sometimes bottom) place on the totem pole that is the Atlantic division of the Eastern Conference. So you are really stretching out the old cliché of comparing apples and oranges. It is more like comparing apples and drag queens: totally absurd.
No, despite what any of my friends say to me this week during the aftermath of the latest chapter that is the story of the Jets, this game did not hurt anymore than the game against the Eagles; meaning that these were both contests where victory was in the grasp of my team and it slipped away thanks to a botched play or an untimely miscue. (Untimely miscue...that’s funny. I always hear sports reporters use phrases like that. What exactly is a timely miscue? It is like when you hear a color commentator say something like, “Man, they really did not want to turn the ball over in that situation.” Like there is some situation where turning the ball over is ok? I digress.)
There is no rivalry between the Jets and Giants. They play a meaningful game against each other roughly once every four years. They are no more a rivalry than say the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The only team in the AFC East that I could see some sort of a remote sense of rivalry with would be the Bills. If some fan of Buffalo came up to me and stated their hatred for the Giants I would understand. That makes sense. That was a historical sporting event that tweaked the hearts of Buffalo fans. Which in a way makes the Giants even that more appealing, the enemy of my enemy and so forth.
I will admit to an occasional twinge of disgust when I hear Giant fans talk about their team in the same breath as some of the true dynasties and imposing champions of the NFL’s past. To hear some of these guys spout on and on about Big Blue you would think they won ten Super Bowls instead of two. The two they won weren’t even back-to-back. Yet you can find a Giant fan who feels that his team’s legacy should be placed next to that of the Steelers, 49ers, and Cowboys. That just is not the case. This is a team that recently has also been party to some heartbreaking losses in the post-season but gets overlooked at times. All I have to say in response is that every season for the Giants since 1991 has ended exactly like the Jets seasons have, with a loss.
Yes a few years ago they made it to the big dance but ran into a buzz saw of a team at the time in the guise of the Baltimore Ravens led by Ray (I didn’t see nuthin’) Lewis. Even though I watched that game in a room with a few buddies who are die-hard Giant fans (with Murph I use the term loosely), I didn’t get any feelings of enjoyment out of watching them get taken apart. It wasn’t a game I really had too much interest in other than it being the Super Bowl and I had hoped to see a good game. The same goes for last year’s Giant collapse (pun on purpose) against the 49ers in the playoffs last year. No real satisfaction about that one either although I did enjoy some of the daggers thrown Jeremy Shockey’s way. What can I say; I can’t stand the guy.
No, as far as I am concerned there is no true rivalry between these two teams. Nothing one does means anything to the other unless it is under the circumstances of last week’s game. Maybe if the NFL scheduled an annual contest between the two teams we may have something to talk about (which, I am convinced, they can do. If we can travel to Oakland every year why not play the Giants instead?).
I guess I will leave you with this thought: When we were watching the Super Bowl between the Giants and Ravens my buddy Coos (Giants fan) and I were discussing this very same topic. He believed that there was a rivalry albeit a weak one while I said then what I have said here. The only difference was that he told me that although there is no true rivalry between our teams he still hated the Jets and would almost always root against them. He went on to tell me how he does get a warm feeling deep in the cockles of his heart every time a Jet season goes belly up. He went as far as stating that if the Jets were in the Super Bowl playing the Cowboys he would root for the Cowboys. That would be like Al Sharpton backing David Duke for president. That is some hatred.
My theories: it isn’t hatred it is jealousy. The Jets are just a more exciting team to watch. The Giants have made their franchise on being boring. And even when they win the Jets still steal the back pages most of the time. The Jets become the topic of discussion on most talk radio. Think about it this way; if I were to ask you who the top five most compelling football players in New York were you would probably say Chad Pennington, Santana Moss, John Abraham, Jeremy Shockey and Micheal Strahan. Maybe not in that order but those would probably be the five names to come to you right away. Even if the Giants go to the NFC Championship Game and I posed that question to random people on the street they would probably name those five guys. Does this really mean anything as far as football seasons go and the measure of a team’s success? Of course not; but I think I may be onto something here.
Think about how quickly the Giant fan base embraced Jeremy Shockey. They fell in love with him before he even showed up to camp. They are starved for exciting and compelling young players. Even Coos said he loved having this guy on his team because of his fiery in-your-face attitude he felt the Giants lacked. So maybe that is why he hates the Jets so much. They are the exciting and dynamic playmakers he wishes he had on his team. Maybe not, I could be missing the mark on this one but I will stand by my premise nonetheless.