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Forty Years Later

It was 40 years ago today, January 12, 1969 that the New York Jets forever entered American sports lore as Joe Willie Namath led the AFL champion Jets over the 18 point favorite NFL champion Baltimore Colts, the biggest upset at the time (and arguably still) in sports history.
But as Jets fans all know, we haven’t been anywhere close to recapturing that moment in the four decades since. Sure, runs to the AFC title game in 1982 and 1998 were nice, and the playoff victories of the past decade are memorable, but they don’t compare to a Super Bowl victory.
As a young Jets fan, I have only seen the Jets Super Bowl win in archive footage format on ESPN and other media forums. Maybe it’s because I haven’t suffered through all of the four futile decades that followed that I still have hope for the immediate future of the franchise.
The Jets will find their head coach. The stocks of Rex Ryan and Russ Grimm certainly shot up this past weekend. If the Jets believe one of those guys really is there man, they should have patience and hire their coach when he is free of his 2008-09 duties. And that new coach will be able to find a quarterback, via the draft, free agency, or someone already on the roster.
If you go back to August, perhaps the only one of the final four teams people thought would make it this far is the Pittsburgh Steelers. If you want back to the first week of December, people would have only picked the Steelers out of these four. The Ravens, with their vicious defense and mistake-free offense, the resilient Eagles who battled back from literally rock bottom (tie against the hapless Bengals and Donovan McNabb pulled a week later against Baltimore, not to mention needing Chicago and Tampa to lose in week 17 to have a shot) and the Cardinals facing doubters at every turn and battling some monstrous historical demons (and you thought the Jets were bad, at least they won a title in the era of visual media) to make it to the conference championship games says how in the NFL, you can never count a team out year to year, or even month to month.
On January 12, 2009, the Jets are in a flux. And even though the anxiety will be there through the draft, free agency, mini-camps, preseason, season, and (fingers-crossed) post season, the 2008 football season has proved that a franchise can put the pieces together in a snap, if everything works out right. If the Cardinals (repeat, THE CARDINALS) or a rookie QB, or a star-crossed coach and quarterback combo that looked beyond done two months ago, can feel the Super Bowl in their grasp, it can happen for the Jets. I guarantee it.

Jason Levy

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