What did I get for Christmas? Thanks for asking! Yes, I did get the vintage Joe Namath jersey. I am very happy about that. There are so many things for which I might have asked on the festive holiday. And a good thing, too. Every year's end - often to settle my mind over a particularly sad, dull season - I find myself shopping for some kind of Holy Grail on Ebay that will make me feel better. Often these things are vintage NFL or New York Jets items whose value could only be real to the real fan - and even then, there is nothing about being a real fan that can justify purchasing any of this stuff.
Here's a sample, not in any order:
Someday, someday, baby, I'll buy the NFL Thermos circa 1976 with the newly enfranchised Seattle and Tampa Bay teams in the wrong conferences. I saw this thing at a church sale in the middle of Lancaster, Pennsylvania about ten years ago, and I've never forgiven myself since for not picking it up. I was too afraid of what the people traveling with me would think. Can you imagine? How stupid.
First of all, it needs to be said that when Shell Oil did their NFL smoked drinking glass giveaways between 1971 and '73, they did it just before OPEC starting biting America in the ass. It seems that when every red meat-eating American filled up at the pump, he got a drinking glass with his favorite team (or whichever team was playing locally) printed on the side in white. This is not to be mistaken with Sunoco's 1972 NFL sticker book giveaway, which was cooler. The smoked drinking glasses were given away when people promiscuously drank hard alcohol (which was advertised promiscuously, too). Out of rounded smoked drinking glasses, apparently. It was an era I just missed by a generation when drinking and driving could still be associated. Americans have been trying to sell these at garage sales ever since. Go on Ebay right now and you'll see people practically giving them away. As for me, no thank you. I could find some at a flea market.
Then there's gems. These were also gas station giveaways. I drank milk - whole milk, of course - out of these suckers. In the 80's, my brother had a Giants one and I had the Jets. They're actually quite brittle. Too many washings and it's back to the Mobil station for another pair.
I had this baby in the 70's - a Welch's Jelly glass with the 1976 AFC Central Division logos on them. I think we owned the AFC East as well. That would make sense. But we didn't eat that much jelly, and frankly the Welch's people sold us short on these given the year's previous ones, with all of the conference helmets on them. Now those I unashamedly bought off Ebay eight years ago. I offer no excuses or explanations.
Do I need a used 1970's rubber plastic rain parka? I cannot imagine that it would stand up to another lousy, rain-drenched game. Which one did this last endure? The 43-0 home drubbing to the Dolphins in 1975? Hmmm.
Tempting, but no. What are they? These are early 70's commemorative lids to bottles of Gatorade. "Ah, I remember that particular bottle of Gatorade. I drank it while waxing my Torino." Indeed, sir. That's why the smell of Turtle Wax always makes you think of the St. Louis Cardinals football team. And cars that get 12 miles to the gallon. Interesting item, but what would you do with these, except keep them in drawer where they will clang together with that jar lid sound. Do you put them on display?
I owned a hat like this one. But don't be fooled. This is a new wool hat fused with an old logo taken off an old hat. However, I recognize the sewed-on circular "Jets" emblem. It's not even accompanied by the actual Jets logo. Can you imagine such a time when such little care was given to NFL merchandising? Ah, innocence.
Who buys the pre-season prospectus for the 1975 season? What's the point? I can tell you how the '75 season went without consulting the prospectus. 3-1l. They went 5-0 in the '75 preseason, and everybody thought they'd compete for the division title. Then they tanked, like so many seasons before and after. Is this supposed to be some veiled joke at the crushed expectation of the Jets fan? We cannot give that much credit to the seller. That would be too inside a joke. It's just something an old season tickets holder had lying around in his basement. How sad.
Look, there are just some things I'm never going to experience. Buying the prospectus is not going to create a different outcome for the 1975 season. Nor am I going to be able to recapture the pure, childlike wonder that I felt upon entering into the world of being a Jets being a fan in the mid-1970's - as terrible a time to enter into Gangreendom as any. I will also never persuade the New York City Parks Commission to reinstall the hard plastic colored ceiling to the Tent of Tomorrow at the old Fairgrounds at Flushing Meadow Corona Park. The Jets are not moving back to to Queens, either. These things are gone forever, over a long time ago.
Still, in those dark moments at night when I cannot sleep, maybe - just maybe - having the 1977 New York Jets Media Guide will be like having a security blanket nearby. Don't you agree?