All this week I have been forced to endure a barrage of insults from the young Philadelphians with whom I work. The truth is we are, all of us, fans of a team with one win under their belt. The Eagles are playing in the shadow of three other superior teams in their Eastern Division. I had thought that the Jets were better team than the Bills, but I was wrong; they are just barely better than a pushover Dolphins club. If you want to see why both the Jets and the Eagles will be staying home in January, you need only watch the Patriots-Cowboys game at 4:15 pm this afternoon.
The Eagles fans with whom I work in Delaware County know how much I love the Jets, but that doesn't matter when it comes to heckling. But then their heckling doesn't really matter either. They do it with a kind of an overly self-conscious skepticism about their own team that undermines the effect of their pepper:
"Jets suck worse than the Eagles, man."
"Yo. Jets are going down, asshole."
"God, I hate this hoagie. Sort of like the way I hate the Jets."
"Jets won't fly like the Eagles will. Asshole."
And so on. Always with a sound to their voice that conveys a feeling of unease, sort of the kind that says, "But, you know, if the Eagles don't win, I won't be surprised." I've never been good at heckling, myself. Philadelphia fans are famous for booing Santa Claus, but they are the really best known for being able to tell you after-the-fact why they were sure their team was going to lose all along. And frankly, writing this as I am near halftime of the game, I can imagine how my pals at work were chattering to one another in front of their TV's about Brian Westbrook's dominance (especially after his called-back touchdown run) but are probably also now saying that they've always known all along how overrated a kicker David Akers is, particularly after he's badly shanked a second kick in the first half.
As for the Yets, I've seen some terrible missed tackles and the usual unimaginative offense that's fooling no one. The entire season is going to be like this. Ben Graham's decent punt late in the second half produced nothing more than opportunity for Graham to show off some of his Australian Rules tackling abilities when none of his colleagues on the down field coverage could get to little Reno Mahe. No harm done. Akers missed his kick. Ugh. And this is pro football?
It will be nice to hear what the geniuses at work have to say about the Jets' Titans uniforms. Unless the Eagles really do open up against us, my colleagues are not going to have anything to grind into me other than a Jets loss - unless they want to make noise about the mighty blue and mustard that Titans of New York are wearing today. They look like the Chuck Knox Los Angeles Rams of the 1970's. The New York Titans became extinct for a reason; they were mediocre. Their legacy lives on, though. The Jets' 2007 season certainly pays tribute to that so far.