Sunday, November 27, 2016

NY Jets #71 - Part 1

Is it not enough to face the prospect of living in a country that in January will be led by a vulgar, overgrown child with a seriously untreated personality disorder, whose election was guaranteed by an FBI Director with connections to Rudolph Guiliani, or possibly to a Russian dictator? Is it not enough to imagine that this 45th President will likely be impeached and then succeeded by a guy who looks like Race Bannon and who also believes in gay conversion therapy? No. Because today, we must finally play the the first-place Patriots, a team whose coach and quarterback are - of course - good friends with a President-elect who gave off camera advice to a television personality on how to sexually assault women.

I did not know I could hate the Patriots any more than I do at this very moment. Don Shula's Dolphins? The '76 Raiders? The '77 Cowboys...wait, the Cowboys of any era? Big Ben's Steelers? I would gladly pledge an unholy allegiance to any one of these destructors if I knew they could bring Belichick's gray, dull, spiritless, predictable brand of football low forever.


Jeff Bleamer #71, played tackle for us in his last season in the pros, 1977. (I'd like to start out, however, by mentioning that the names for #71 are particularly good. In addition to a Bleamer, we have a Chalenski, a Lusckinski, a Krevis, a Pickel, a Stuckey and a Winkel. That is all.) Bleamer went to Penn State and was amazed to be drafted by any pro team in 1975, let alone the Philadelphia Eagles, who were, as he put it, "in my backyard." A 2015 Morning Call article outlines the terrific differences between the drafts of then and now by using Bleamer as an example. He may have been pleased to have been drafted, but the reason it happened is because Joe Paterno called Mike McCormack, the-then Eagles GM, and reminded him that the team had yet to draft a Nittany Lion. Bleamer was drafted. That's how things worked back then. I think we can all agree for reasons that don't need to be outlined here how that was both a better and worse system.

Mike Chalenski #71 is roughly my age and was, unlike myself, a USA Today high school All-American. He played well at UCLA and then, like Beamer, was drafted by the Eagles. I found his LinkedIn; he specializes in Information Technology and Services, but his Pacific Philadelphia Trading Card from 1996 (above), his only season with us, makes him seem a little more than mortal than his work in IT, though maybe it shouldn't be that way. I don't know. Maybe that's what's wrong with our country. But lettering three years at UCLA seems like a mark of distinction that never leaves you.

Maybe it's the fact that Chalenski recovered his only pro fumble as a Jet in 1996, arguably the worst season in franchise history. I don't know which game it was, but I do hope he kept the ball and has it somewhere special. Real life is a mundane and daily grind that should be punctuated by little bits of experience that possess all the resonance of childhood fantasy.


Jarron Gilbert #71 played on mostly the practice squads of the Bills and the Jets. He earned a BA in Sociology from San Jose State. To further reinforce the earlier point made by the Morning Call with regard to how much the draft has changed, consider the following:

This above is what the Chicago Bears considered upon taking him in the third round of the 2009 draft. Or perhaps, they, like you, were impressed by the video of him jumping out of a swimming pool.

Obviously this is something cool. One commenter on YouTube says, "It's harder then it looks! So all you people that sit on your ass... And dislike this video first.. try to jump on top of the 1st step of the stair case.. lol.. And if you don't bust your shit! LOL." Another thing that's wrong with our civilization is that a simple YouTube video can produce vitriol, both attacking and defending. Am I sitting on my ass? Yes. Am I disliking this video? No. In fact, what I like best about it is the odd Yo La Tengo- tinged-with-Dark Jazz soundtrack that doesn't really fit the grainy video itself.


As I write this, I have just been watching what are the likely winning points that the Giants have scored over the Browns - Jason Pierre-Paul's recovering a batted ball and taking it all the way to the house. The Giants now lead 20-6, with most of the fourth quarter to go, but in Brownsland, it's clearly another loss. The Browns had gotten a terrific 50-yard gain on a Terrelle Pryor Sr. reception.

Then, the turnover then happened on the very next play - as if on cosmic cue. The sound from the remaining Browns fans in the stands was a poignant combination of resignation and bitter laughter, as if they had been waiting for this particular piano to drop on them, as it always does. I'm certain it wasn't the Giants fans laughing. People who are proud to follow a team they know will break their hearts must respond this way. Otherwise why are you there?

JP-P looked like a tight end on his way to the end zone, at least compared with the man who was the first to greet him there - the Giants' Damon Harrison, who was once briefly a #71 for the Jets, and then our #94. Considering the serendipity of this moment, and the uncertainty with which I may be navigating the blog by the time I get to that number, I decide to discuss Harrison now. Who knows what kind of country we'll be living in by #94?

Are the Jets worse off without him? What's unfortunate is that it there are so many missing pieces in the Jets that it hardly seems worth exploring the question. The Giants have won five straight, and they've done it with much more than Damon Harrison. The Jets are just simply a worse team in many ways.

Here are some random cool facts about Damon Harrison:

1. He is, of course, "Snacks." It's one of the best nicknames in all of sports.

2. He opened up to the Players Tribune about fighting depression and suicidal ideation after Hurricane Katrina devastated his hometown. Any time giant men talk about their feelings, it's a good thing.

3. He was All-Pro last year.

4. His first recorded NFL sack was on Tom Brady.

5. After this year's defeat of the Cowboys, the Giants still had zero sacks. Newsday pointed out, during the game that Harrison tried to sack Dak Prescott, but realized that it might register as a late hit, so he pulled up. (Snacks did not sack Dak. There. I said it.) He is a popular player, and still well liked by his former teammates on the Jets, probably for saying something something like this - When he was asked about not sacking Prescott, he said that "I told coach today that it’s kind of good I didn’t get itbecause at no time should I be leading the team in sacks. We’d be in trouble.”


Giants top Browns 27-13. As the game winds down, there aren't any Browns fans left in the stadium. The fans in Cleveland will return next week in the game against Cincinnati because that's what people who are proud to remain loyal do. If only that dedication could be put to some useful purpose.

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