This is one of those games where I recite beforehand, This is going to be one of those games. And it turns out to be exactly that. One of those games.
(photo "courtesy" of the New York Times)
As a boy I was lulled into a stupor about the Buffalo Bills; the Jets won five of six from Buffalo from 1976-78. The Bills were the only team that the Jets could beat the snot out of time after time. Since then, the Bills have been about as easy to handle as the Vietcong. Bill Simpson intercepts in the '82 Wild Card game. Nine consecutive losses in the Jim Kelly era. Lee Evans shredding our secondary for enormous touchdowns the past couple of years. It's never consoling when I tell myself Buffalo has won one less Super Bowl than the Jets. It's consoling when I think of the Bengals, the Saints, the Falcons, and the Cardinals of course. But not the Bills. We've lost too much dignity to that stark city of the white north whose architecture appears like a string of remnants from a lost city you learn about on the History Channel.
This game just dragged on and on. It started with my wife and I doing some Sunday shopping that overlapped with the game's start. The Jets immediately went up 14-3. (Is Thomas Jones the Jets MVP? Maybe. Is Brett Favre? NO!! NO!! I was happy to see some sportswriters considering Kris Jenkins as a possible MVP for the entire league. He's like a very mobile home with legs.) So I felt comfortable driving home, listening to my wife give the updates from her BlackBerry. No sweat. Well hell, I think to myself, what have I been thinking? It's not going to be one of those games. No sir. No way.
Second quarter, 14-10 Jets. Hm.
This is after we've gone to the gym earlier in the morning. We are a mile from home, and suddenly my wife says something about wanting a donut. I think I want a donut. OK, fine. But does she actually want a donut? I mean, really? or does she just say that she wants one but the subject won't even come up again? Because I'll eat a donut. But this might be one of those moments when I'll say sure, hell yeah, I want a donut, and she'll say, oh, actually, no, no, I was just saying that I wanted one aloud. Just to, y'know, air that out. And then I feel foolish.
"OK, here's the deal," she says. "If the Jets are still ahead, then we'll get a donut."
I nod. I like those odds. I feel like I'm about to get a donut.
But then I get that feeling. A familiar sinking that accompanies a game against Buffalo. (I'm trying to imagine a scenario whereby I root for Buffalo anywhere anytime. It's not coming to me. I remember laughing under my breath watching them go down to the Cowboys in Super Bowl Whatever in 1993, and the Cowboys are, to me, like a President you feel no problem throwing a shoe at. Or two shoes. Then the following year, my wife and I watched the two teams repeat in the next Super Bowl. We watched from what she called the Little Boy Bed. We had been dating about six months back then, and I was pointlessly clinging to both bachelorhood and Catholicism - neither of which was ever particularly good to me - with a single bed in my studio apartment. Back then she didn't even like football. She asked with a bland interest for whom she should be rooting. I answered that I honestly didn't know and that I didn't care. Now we both love football. Both. It took another season for her to fall under its sweet, terrible spell. Now, 15 years later, here she is wanting a donut on the condition the Jets are winning.)
"Shit!" she exclaims. "They're losing." Buffalo up by three.
"Screw it!" I yell. "We're getting that donut. I want a coffee roll!"
"So do I!"
Screw it, I thought. Screw the Jets and their insane cruelties. I mean, never mind that later on I nearly choked on my coffee roll while watching Leon Washington go off tackle for 47 yards and touchdown. (If Bruce Harper had been shot with gamma ray radiation, he would have been Leon Washington.) They have toyed with my desires long enough. Indulge and live while you can. Chad Pennington is the best rated QB anywhere. The world is upside down, but whichever way, the Jets are always down. Have your coffee roll. Get a Big Boy Bed. Life is short.
To conclude, though:
- I don't know if Abram Elam has reformed his life, made amends, or fixed what he needed to. I do know that he is having a great season.
- When they brought Brett Favre on to quarterback my beloved team, I envisioned, in the worst case scenario, all his countless, irresponsible, wasteful interceptions heaved into the air without a single thought while playing for Green Bay. Brett's deep pass into double coverage intended for Jerricho Cotchery in the third quarter was just that kind of daydreamed disaster come to life.
- Then, there was the moment where we had to watch the Jets getting pushed as a person pile into their own end zone by Fred Jackson. This produced the physical reaction pictured to the left. For several consecutive plays afterwards it appeared as though the New York Jets - a fully accredited professional football team from the American Football Conference of the NFL - could not tackle a single Buffalo player. It was horrifying.
And when it was all over, the word around the TV tables continued unabated: the Jets got away with a win. They won't beat the Dolphins in two weeks. How can they possibly win on the West Coast when they've shown that they can't, y'know, really do that? The haters, the doubters are out with a flourish. They know it all. They spell the death of my team for the 2008 season. It's only a matter of time. Having seen Frost/Nixon this past weekend, I have finally found my Venn Diagram overlap with Tricky Dick in the priceless moment in the film where Frank Langella's Nixon has an apocryphal 11th hour drunken phone conversation with Michael Sheen's David Frost. Nixon says, with mistaken solidarity, "We're gonna make those motherf!@#$ers CHOKE on it!!" Fused to my core is this selfsame feeling of twisted, wounded entitlement. Damn you all. Give me my donut.