FLORHAM PARK, NJ — The Jets-Giants rivalry; it’s certainly a debatable topic. Sharing a home and a city, the two teams rarely play each other — once every four years to be exact. Of course they do play annually on the third pre-season game of the season, often considered to be the most physical of the pre-season.
That aside there is a constant battle for bragging rights, back page exposure, and one-upping amongst fans. But rarely did the players and coaches seem to get involved in the rivalry because, as they would tell you, it really wasn’t a one. The Giants weren’t just the Giants, they were the New York Football Giants; winners of three Super Bowls, the David that knocked off the undefeated Goliath in Super Bowl XLII, home of Hall-of-Famers Bill Parcells, Lawrence Taylor and Phil Simms. The Jets, on the other hand, had only Broadway Joe Namath’s infamous Super Bowl III guarantee and a slew of disappointing seasons to hang on their heads.
That is, of course, until Rex Ryan brought his boisterous attitude to New York and changed a culture and team into a bunch of hard-nosed, braggadocios — dare I say — winners. For years the Giants owned the back page of all the New York newspapers and garnered all the national media attention, then back-to-back AFC Championship games happened. Then a loud-mouth coach from a football family who can do more than just talk the talk happened. Then a young, good-looking quarterback with moxy happened. Then a team that had no real identity became known for an intimidating, gritty defense with a player who has his own island happened.
And all of a sudden — almost over night — everyone wanted a piece of the New York Football Jets. HBO’s documentary “Hard Knocks” saw the appeal of this team and asked to have America get an in-depth look at the inner workings of this newly changed team. And as everyone began talking about the Jets no one seemed to care about the Giants — who have done little since their magical Super Bowl run in 2007. Now, it wasn’t just Miamians and New Englanders who hated the Jets, it was New Yorkers too.
Upon the season premiere of the Jets on “Hard Knocks” Vice President of Communications for the Giants, Pat Hanlon, was one of those New Yorkers who didn’t like the taste of the Jets being forced down America’s throat. “Whoopee…what team is being featured this year,” he questioned in a response on his Twitter account. (Even his Twitter wallpaper is a subtle shot at the Jets, as it shows a picture of his shirt that says “Talk is Cheap”.)
But it didn’t stop with “Hard Knocks”. Ryan has released a biography recently entitled “Play Like You Mean It”. It’s not exactly a tell-all book, but Ryan does divulge on the topics of problematic players, the New England Patriots, his foot fetish, and of course the New York Giants.
“When people ask me what it’s like to share New York with the Giants, my response is always, I am not sharing it with them — they’re sharing it with me,” Ryan says, adding, “I know it’s going to piss off every Giants fan to hear this, but here you go: We are the better team. We are the big brother. [The Jets are] going to remain the better team for the next 10 years. Whether you like it or not, those are the facts and that’s what’s going to happen.”
Upon receiving negative feedback from the Giants for his off-the-cusp remarks, Ryan didn’t back off those statements. “The facts are we’ve played better than the Giants the past two years, and those are the only two years I’ve been here,” Ryan said. “My big thing is, I think I can whip Pat. I’m worried about him throwing a BlackBerry at me.”
The Jets and Giants will have the opportunity to put the talk to an end when the two teams play, for real, on December 24th — where the Jets will be the featured home team at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
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