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Thursday, August 8, 2013

NY Jets #66 - Part 2

Donald Evans #66 came to the Jets in 1994 as the club seemed vaguely optimistic when Pete Carroll was named coach. It died that season - though, to be fair, it took longer than usual within a given Jets losing season to deteriorate. It took 12 weeks, and then this.

Evans started all his games that season, and then started only four in the next brutally bad season of 1995 before retiring. If you're too young to remember those years, then you're lucky, I guess. But I've always felt that years of struggle as a fan can temper you for the ups and downs to come, and if you're a Jets fan, then you come to know bad years pretty intimately. Sometimes it helps to remember the really bad times to get through the run-of-the-mill bad times.

Evans recorded two sacks among his last four games in 1995, and both of them came in the second week overtime home loss to the Colts. Did it feel like just a day at work, or a really good day at work? 

He is also the highest drafted player to come out of Winston-Salem State University, where apparently a training facility is named in his honor. 

Billy Shields #66 also came to us at the end of his career for three games in 1985 after playing a long career with someone else, mostly on the offensive line with San Diego. Shields and Wes Chandler are the two players who famously helped Kellen Winslow leave the field after the Chargers' famous overtime duel with the Miami Dolphins in the 1982 playoffs. In 2011, his name came up as a questionable character in the Sierra Madre Tattler over the development plan for an assisted living complex in Sierra Madre, CA, but whether or not that's the same ex-Charger Billy Shields (as one angry commenter at the above link suggests) I don't know.

But the shortest career in #66 that we have is Vince Jasper. Three games in 1987. Yes, it's time to talk once again about the 1987 NFL Strike, that absolute nadir in the history of the NFL that saw "replacement players" put in for the regulars, a ruse that still angers me today. I can't blame Vince Jasper - a chance to play football professionally for three days must have been exciting. He even got to travel to Indianapolis, so at least there's that.

***

Tomorrow is the first exhibition game of the season. Before all of the drama of this season begins, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you folks in the Jets blogging hemispheres a healthy and happy season ahead. It may be a long year, a year of wailing and gnashing our teeth, and I want to wish you the kind of happiness in your own lives that, perhaps, our beloved team will not be able to offer.

As the poster put it best, "I want to believe." The predictions vary. Our power rankings are very low. The very few optimists suggest 9-7. Personally, I predict 6-10; 8-8, at best. Maybe I should be more positive. The last few games of the season might redeem Rex Ryan, but I feel that his considerable weight loss will be his only real source of pride at the year's end. I wish him well, no matter what. For reasons that only a Jets fan could understand, I feel he's one of us. 

And just in time for such speculations, Rex and Bronx native Willie Colon #66 both suggest that the season will be better than people think. They seem hurt by the bad predictions and believe the bad tidings will actually motivate the club, though they may not actually feel that way. Maybe that's what they feel they have to say. Gird your loins, people.

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