It has been a wonderful season, but as was the case with last year's conference championship, I am utterly heartbroken. And now I begin the process of letting go of the pain. There are people who die needlessly each day. There are people who never get a chance to deflect their anxieties upon the fortunes of a football team because they live impoverished under repressive regimes (I'm looking at you, North Korea and Myanmar), or in shacks under the eye of the Chinese government, or maybe in North Philadelphia, where every day is an embodiment of where the American Dream has failed.
It doesn't matter. People I know from all around the country whom I have known over the years know exactly what the last few weeks have meant to me. I am deeply proud that my team made it is as far as they did, but when the party is over, a part of you dies, too. This has been a great season, not just because it is the first time the Jets have gone to the AFC Championship two years in a row; no, I am happy because this has not really been a typical Jets season. Or maybe it was. Nothing has been taken for granted, except for the fact that Rex Ryan has made this season all about him. By doing so, his team has reflected what was best and worst about him.
In this single year, Jenn Sterger revealed the intimate self-portraits of Brett Favre, followed by the Jets being sued for sexual harassment (again, thanks Brett), saw a sideline journalist get harassed without legal ramifications, witnessed the hiding in plain sight of Ryan's love for his wife's feet, the impact of Sal Alosi's knee. Rex Ryan is not responsible for all of the above, but he is, above all, a lightening rod, like Sarah Palin. Only Ryan is actually talented. Is he a great coach? I'm not sure. He is either a genius, or a dumb, lucky lummox; maybe something in between. Either way, he said my favorite line of the year; no, not the one about the goddamned snack. He said, "Same old Jets. Going in the AFC Championship second year in a row." I've been waiting a long time for someone to sarcastically respond like that to the worst voices in my head.
I only know that the Jets never had the sense of this game's tempo. There were outplayed in a way that they would never have allowed themselves to be against the Patriots. Why did they throw on fourth down when they should have run? I don't understand it. But it doesn't matter. I know it's over.