Friday, January 22, 2010

This. This is Gang Green.

The title pays homage to the unintentional comedy from a scene in Mask, a very uncomedic film from the 1980's. The severely disfigured lead character falls in love with a blind girl. He tries to help her understand descriptive adjectives by giving her cotton balls and saying things like "this, this is billowy" in a melodramatic way. It makes for a good running joke between me and the wifey. We say things like "this, this is what infant vomit on your arm is like." I'm sure every other couple has their Mask jokes as well. So while the plight of the 2009-10 Jets doesn't EXACTLY mirror the tragic life of a disfigured teenager born to a drug-addled biker chick, it is important to understand what Green feels like. In a nutshell, it's a cross between waking up in the morning next to a surprisingly cute girl you don't remember drunkenly going home with the night before and squeezing somebody else's corn-laden poo nugget between your fingers.

The nuances of my relationship with the New York Jets are well-documented here. The team has not won a title in the 30 years I've watched them, although they have, for the most part, been average. Despite the perpetual negativity pervading the psyches of the fan-base (somehow achieving misery synergy with overlapping Mets fans), the team has offered enough joyful moments to keep me coming back. The oddest trait about the franchise is its up-and-down nature every year. In the 1980's, before salary caps and free agency churned rosters on an annual basis, franchises rode waves of success that surged and crested before eventually breaking. The Dolphins, Chargers and Raiders all had lengthy runs in the AFC, while the 49ers, Cowboys and Redskin battled in the NFC, giving way to the Bears and Giants in the latter half of the decade. This trend continued for most of the 1990's. But in the face of the arc-like fortunes of these franchises, the Jets' fortunes bobbed like a buoy. Sure, there have been poor draft picks, booger-picking coaches, train wrecks and tragedy. But there have also been surprising playoff appearances and overachieving fan favorites. Inconsistency is the hallmark of Gang Green. It is maddening and uplifting at the same time, but it always causes me to look cautiously toward the future, when anything can happen.

Let's briefly review the team's past two appearances in the AFC Championship:

1/23/83: Jets lose 14-0 to Dolphins in Orange Bowl monsoon
Don Shula orders the tarp to stay off the field the night before, turning it into a slow, muddy slog that mitigates the Jets' speed advantage. Mark Gastineau repeatedly kicks a fumbled ball off a sack while trying to pick it up and run, allowing the Dolphins to get the ball back. Richard Todd throws five interceptions (three to A.J. Duhe, including one he returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal the victory). The game was as strange as the strike-shortened season. For those too young to remember, the strike (which I remember vividly because of this depressing SI cover) cut the regular season to 9 games. To come up with playoff teams, the league scrapped the division standings and ranked teams in each conference, lining up the best 8 in each conference to go at it. No wild-cards and no byes. This was very perplexing to me as a third-grader. I had just figured out how the league worked after thoroughly enjoying the epic playoff battles leading to Super Bowl XVI (Winslow beating the Dolphins, Montana to Clark), and they go and change the rules on me. Stupid strike.


1/17/99 - Jets get pummeled by Broncos 23-10

The game wasn't as close as the score indicated. Elway, TD and crew won to get back to the Super Bowl and repeat as champions over the whore-loving Atlanta Falcons. The Jets were riding the Parcells-driven Vinny train and over-achieved a bit. The outcome was neither surprising nor saddening. Not much else to say here. Those Broncos teams were awesome and mowed down just about everybody, including the knees of any defensive player lined up in front of the Broncos' dirty offensive line.

1/24/10 - ???

Let's focus on the big picture - the Jets face an oft-choking juggernaut and have some clear advantages with their running game and defense. The Revis factor is overblown because the Colts' passing attack is multi-faceted. On the flip side, the Colts' revenge factor is underblown. (Not a real word, but a nice transition from the prior sentence. And an apt reference to my genitals in college.) The Jets robbed the Colts of a perfect record and some dignity last month, and Peyton was seething on the sidelines after he got pulled. He'll want to shut up Rex Ryan in the worst way. This makes me a bit anxious. As a result, I will be mildly depressed, but not surprised, if the Jets lose.

This year's Jets team has achieved the one basic task you hope for from your NFL team every year - they raised my ceiling of expectations for the team. The Cardinals and Giants did the same thing successfully in the last two post-seasons. Let's hope they can keep pushing that ceiling, with Rex Ryan stepping in for Eric Stoltz, Mark Sanchez in for Cher, Fireman Ed as Sam Elliott and Norv Turner as the principal who insists Rocky Dennis needs to be in Special Ed. And Vernon Gholston as the blind character Laura Dern plays who doesn't understand basic concepts the rest of the world does.

53 comments:

Whitney said...

When you mentioned the revenge factor, I thought you were referring to Super Bowl III. I was wondering how you were going to make that one work.

rob said...

nice work with 'underblown'. cutting edge self-deprecation right there.

Whitney said...

And good luck to you, TR. And TJ.

I'll be rooting for the Jets because they're the underdog, because I have family with Jets season tickets, because I have Baltimoron friends who have hated the Colts with a twisted passion since 3/29/84, and mostly because of you idiots.

TR said...

The thought of a Peyton vs. Favre Super Bowl makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit. Actually I take that back. it's the Chipotle burrito/guac/nacho feast that I threw down in about 10 minutes that's causing the vurps. But a Colts-Vikings game would be uber-annoying.

zoltan said...

When aren't you mildly depressed about the Jets?

zoltan said...

And I can't believe you didn't like to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZxNeFLuY98

TJ said...

And much like "Herman's Head", Mask, be it the 80s cartoon or fucked-up-face 80s movie, keeps popping up around here.

zoltan said...

That's because TR has a secret crush on Rocky Dennis.

TR said...

Z-Man now takes a commanding lead in the tired contest: who can repeat more jokes that were relevant 15 years ago?

zoltan said...

I really have nothing else.

Dave said...

last week, i watched the jets game with some neighborhood jets fans, and so now (as per the associative property . . . or is that communicative . . . transitive?) i am a jets fan!

rob said...

i'm rooting for a saints/colts super bowl. there. i said it.

Geoff said...

I remember as a kid thinking it was kind of awesome when Cher hired a hooker for her son. Rocky really blew it that night.

TR said...

He sure did. Just as bad as Mitch Taylor. Joel Goodson, on the other hand, had no problems dealing with professional women.

Geoff said...

Princeton could use a guy like Joel.

TJ said...

So is this Guido guy...he's your "manager"?

Whitney said...

I am really slow today. I thought TR was referring to Joel Hodgson, and I figured he meant he should have banged those robots on MST3K.

Geoff said...

I once shared a cab with Joel A. Spivak.

Mark said...

I think we all know what Geoff means by "shared a cab".

Mark said...

Another thing: Who the fuck schedules a conference call for 4 pm on a Friday afternoon?

The assholes I work for, that's who.

Mark said...

So do I mute my end of the phone at 4:20 or just say fuck it?

zoltan said...

That's nothing. I got an email telling me to update everyone on what I figure out over the weekend before our 7:30 am call on Monday. This means: 1) continue to work all weekend; 2) update us on your progress; and 3) be functional at 7:30 am on Monday.

TR said...

I just found out that the guy across the hall from me got canned. 10-15% of my department will be axed on Monday. I think those folks would take a late Friday conference call or weekend work over their fates.

Mark said...

Those assignments are the best.

Sure, I've got nothing to do during my time off than work. Thanks for thinking of me and my mental health.

Sadly, I decided to mute the phone before my papal election. And now I'm pretty much done with the conference call. The conference call isn't over, mind you. I'm just done with it.

Mark said...

Good point, TR. Fretting over employment status doesn't seem to be a recipe for an enjoyable weekend.

Are you in any danger?

rob said...

avett brothers on austin city limits tomorrow for those who swing that way

TR said...

Don't think I'm in danger. Got a poweful boss to protect me from the fire.

Knicks looking positively frisky against the Lakers. I want them to make the playoffs so their pick doesn't turn into a high lottery pick for Utah.

rob said...

not to nitpick, but stephen spielberg just noted that the people of haiti need 'solar powered flashlights'.

Mark said...

So do I TR. So, I can win our bet.

rob said...

jay z, rihanna, and bono is a better combination than it might seem on paper

KQ said...

that Edge sure knows how to work a guitar. and a knit cap.

rob said...

wyclef is a gifted dude

KQ said...

indeed he is. but i can't decide if his flag-scarf is a nice homage or an insult.

rob said...

i think other countries may be less uptight about the flag-as-accessory thing than we are.

KQ said...

good point

I've switched to project runway now, and have returned to my reguarly scheduled shallowness.

rob said...

i'll be making fun of pau gasol now. his ugliness is underrated.

Mark said...

The Gasol family makes up for it's ugliness with height and swarthiness.

Mark said...

I'm obviously in the tank for David Lee (Gator, legitimately cool guy), but he's probably the NBA's most underrated player.

Even if you disagree, he's definitely in the discussion.

rob said...

i've always liked lee for his absurd hustle and rebounding. now that he's developed an offensive game, he's a really valuable guy.

Mark said...

Yeah. There's a lot to like about Lee. He's alwas been an underrated passer and ballhandler for a big but now he can keep people honest with his J. D'Antoni system is great for him too. Not only is it uptempo, but they let him do a lot if point forward stuff too.

Mark said...

Excuse my terrible grammar/spelling. On my phone/ half drunk.

rob said...

if you've donated to haiti relief, or if you want to, paste magazine (www.pastemagazine.com) has a deal that gives you access to their download vault for donating (even if you donate via a mechanism other than paste). pretty eclectic list of tunes, all free once you're in.

Greg said...

I am at the college delly......$5 pitchers of natty light......Dino is back....... Tribe hoops is sold out tonight and people are tailgating

Dan said...

clark kellogg just said of balbay on texas, "defensively, he wants to get right up in you"
also called him a "dime dropper"

Dan said...

make that balbay "of" texas...thorry.

Jerry said...

Sounds like there's a new chief futile superfan in town.

zoltan said...

The price of a pitcher of beer in the Burg has only increased by fifty cents in the past 14 years? Amazing.

Whitney said...

Cal Bowdler is doing color commentary for this game. Taking a break from his busy schedule doing . . . something.

And he tells us that W&M Hall is always a difficult place to play. Okay.

Shlara said...

Anyone have a score update for the Tribe?

Whitney said...

Tribe down 3 with 11 seconds left.

Whitney said...

Tribe loses by 3. Schneider hit a couple of huge ones to bring them back, but he helped dig the hole by chucking up terrible unreboundable 3 after 3. He was off for most of he game.

Ludwick had a great game, but the other two big whiteys were just hideous. Kitts, despite what you think, is an anagram for Stiff, and Hess appeared to be missing between three and five fingers. Tribers missed a few FT's down the stretch as well.

The Tribe needs a few pattycakes to get the momentum back. Can't afford not to get that tournament bye.

Mark said...

ChandlerParsonsChandlerParsonsChandlerParsonsChandlerParsons.

TJ said...

Less than two hours to kickoff...excited...frightened...unshowered.