On Christmas Eve, my wife and I drove to another commonwealth, where my parents live. Somehow, though moving away from the New York-New Jersey area, we were able to pick up the Jets-Giants game on the radio all the way down. Needless to say, what began as a promising matchup turned out to be no matchup at all. It was an awful experience, listening helplessly. You sensed the momentum shift after Victor Cruz's 99-yard touchdown. Antonio Cromartie forced two returns when he should have taken the touchback. Penalties abounded. The Jets were a team forced by a mediocre Giants club to see themselves for what they really are, fueled by symbolism, fortune, hubris, energy, hot air, but little else. Even the announcers craved a Sanchez pass way downfield to Burress, Holmes, or Keller - to somebody, anybody - but it didn't come. Or maybe if they just ran the ball more.
Christmas came. My nephew got an Ahmad Bradshaw jersey and a kid's sized Giants helmet that reminded me of the Jets one I had when lived on Long Island. He and I played catch out back, and he talked about all the players from Big Blue that he loved. He talked about playing the game himself against all sorts of NFL players, and I realized that he was talking about Madden 11. He's light on his feet, tall for his age, curious and thoughtful, most of all. Perhaps I had moaned once too often about how remote the chance of even backing into the playoffs seemed to be for the Jets, and he said, looking through his Giants' face mask, "Don't worry, Uncle Marty. The Jets are still a good team." It was nice of him to say. He pitied me.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson #60 is a character representation of the best of these years. At tackle, he was drafted #1 in 2006, has made the Pro Bowl three out of the six years in the NFL and is regularly considered to be among the better offensive linemen in the game. True to an offensive lineman's nature, he does not appear to be boastful or particularly nasty to anyone, and he heads charitable work outside the game. He is, in other words, not really an ideal character in a Rex Ryan drama. His tweets are quite innocuous, polite, thoughtful, and not at all the confessional work of today's players. Aside from appearing to have arms as long as his legs, he is the sort of fellow that I would hope my nephew would grow up to be.
Casey Wiegmann #60 should win an award for surviving. He is 38 years old, has played for six clubs (one twice over, and that one being Kansas City), actually married a contestant on Survivor, his house in his childhood town was destroyed by a tornado, he played for the 1996 New York Jets, got to go to the Pro Bowl for first time in 2008, and currently has the longest starting streak at his position of any player in the NFL. If you are wondering, he plays center, the most unrewarded and unrewarding of positions in the game, and he is from Iowa - a stoic, virtuous Midwestern state that may, for all I know, produce many a remarkable number of centers. It is a position that must demand a self-sustaining sense of humility and humor, for the center must have his fanny touched on every play. He endures. He survives.