Why We Love to Hate the New York Jets

Vincent Frank@VincentFrankNFLCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2013

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 30: Head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets sends Bart Scott #57 into the game during an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 30, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

We have to bring in another quarterback that will make him work at practice....He’s lazy and content because he knows he’s not going to be benched.

Various New York Jets players indicated this to The New York Daily News last January. Of course, they were talking about ultra-enigmatic quarterback Mark Sanchez

While it is surprising to hear unnamed players come out against the embattled quarterback, the media has been on his jock for a better part of two years now. 

As most of you would agree, we tend to prop people up, whether in the sports world or not, only to rip into them when they are down. 

The same can be said for a professional sports team. 

Just look at what the media, in general, said about Tony Romo and his six-year, $108 million extension with the Dallas Cowboys (via Spotrac). 

Mr. McNabb seems to forget that this one playoff win came against his Philadelphia Eagles, but I digress. 

We tend to look at a team with a storied history and expect continued domination throughout the years. While the Jets have a long history of futility, they're still the darlings of the New York metropolitan area because of their "underdog" mentality when going up against the Giants in the same media market. It's kind of like stepsister syndrome. You feel bad for them until they outshine you and then decide they're not worthy of the success once they have it. 

In terms of the United States in general, the Jets represent what is wrong about the professional sports world. 

Sanchez is more of a cover model than a quarterback. He has appeared on the covers of various magazines showing off what many consider a sleek body and "All American" look. 

You really think this photo endures Sanchez to the hardworking fans who dole out a huge portion of their paychecks to watch him play? Do you really think that the attitude that Sanchez displays off the field is an indicator or representation of the average football fan? 

If Sanchez was able to continue the success that we saw in the first couple years with the Jets, all would be forgiven. After all, Boston has a love/hate relationship with Tom Brady, but put up with his egocentricity due to the success of the New England Patriots. 

After all, Boston is as working class of a city that you can find in the United States. Its long history of blue-collar workers, American romanticism and good ol' Irish attitude doesn't mesh well with Brady's persona. 

So, I guess all would be okay if Sanchez led the Jets to multiple Super Bowl victories and earned the right to act the part of a teenage pop sensation off the field. 

It is the head coach and front office in New York that I think forces us to really take a step back and realize the primary reason for the hatred that exists against the organization. 

If owner Woody Johnson, former general manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan had brought Tim Tebow in to compete with Sanchez, it would have made some sense. Instead, that specific trade seemed to play more like a PR move than anything else. 

New York really never gave Tebow a shot to compete, but the media still played into its hands with a collectivist attitude that represented, for a lack of a better word, sensationalism at its worst. 

I apologize for dumbing down this article, but the embedded video shows exactly how the media played right into the hands of the Jets. That particular episode of ESPN's First Take first aired immediately prior to the start of the 2012 NFL exhibition slate. This at a time when Peyton Manning was returning to active play and the New York Giants were coming off a Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots. 

Yes, let's just focus on a backup quarterback with the lowly Jets rather than substantive news that actually means something in the grand scheme of things. 

Again, it is all about sensationalism and ratings. The Jets played well to the masses, so the mainstream media thought it made sense to focus on that. Once things went awry for the Jets, we were quick to place the blame everywhere within the organization. This despite the fact that most football experts had predicted them to have a down season because of a lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball, quarterback included. 

We love underdogs until they actually aren't underdogs anymore. The Jets were media darlings during their runs to the AFC Championship Game back in 2009 and 2010. What they were able to do with a rookie quarterback (Sanchez) against the Patriots in '10 was something for the ages. It reminded us all of Joe Namath and the 1968 club that defeated Don Shula, Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts. 

Once the Jets were expected to contend in the AFC, they started to struggle. The lack of talent on both sides of the ball became apparent and we were the first to call them "overrated," a term that can be used for over half the teams in the NFL. 

Whether it was bringing Tebow in for all the wrong reasons or handling distractions both on and off the field, the Jets haven't done themselves any favors. 

The story has been written, the title has been inked and the chapters completed. The 2012 version of these Jets were an absolute disaster. 

Future Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who played his final two seasons with the New York Jets, had this to say on Showtime's Inside the NFL immediately following the 2011 season (h/t USA Today). 

It got out-of-hand toward the end of the season. That is why it got out in the media. This is something that happened (in the) third or fourth week of the season, that was going on, and nobody knew about it because the players kept it under wraps. Until we went on that losing streak and guys started to speak up and speak out about certain things...

It is as bad as I've ever been around, honestly. And I've been around some locker rooms and quarterback-receiver situations and what-not. But it was as bad as I've been around. You know it was at the point where I think the players could no longer do anything about it. There was nothing that the players could do.

When someone like Tomlinson, who never made a peep during his days with the San Diego Chargers, comes out; you pay attention. The atmosphere wasn't only toxic, it led to what had to be considered a self-fulfilling prophecy on the football field. The Jets ended up losing the final three games of the season by a total of 43 points, missing out on the playoffs in the process. 

Once they went out there and acquired Tebow a few short weeks later, a media firestorm was about to begin. Through no fault but their own, the Jets organization also became Tomlinson's target. 

Guys think about this. They (Jets Organization) created this. This is the type of football team that they wanted. Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan are both brash, in-your-face type of style, say whatever you want, just get it done on the field. And then it leads to other things, as guys are calling each other out and saying I'm not getting the ball or whatever it may be.

We in the media and fans like feel-good stories. We love underdogs and inspirational play. As it relates to the Jets, it seemed to be all about a me, myself and I motto. That is to say, individual before team. Once they began to struggle, cracks in the perceived unity of the team as whole became evident. This drew a firestorm of responses from media folk covering the team and those of us on the outside looking in. 

We love to hate these New York Jets because the attitude of the players and coaches within the organization makes it so darn easy. 

Let me ask you one question in ending. If the New England Patriots and Tom Brady were struggling like this, with an equally divisive head coach, wouldn't the media be out in full force against them? The lovable loser mantra if the Chicago Cubs in baseball does not translate to the football field. It most definitely doesn't translate to organizations that seem to be too full of themselves.

Even in defeat, the Jets still believe they are the crown jewel of the football world. Well, I hate to say it; they're not. In fact, they are nothing more than a laughingstock in the media and they only have themselves to blame for it. 

I guess we can always just look forward to Tim Tebow news for a couple more weeks before the mainstream media decides to focus on where he will end up next and then set up camp in that city. 

Or this.........

If you don't want to be a target of criticism, don't put yourself out there. If you cannot handle the heat, get out of the kitchen...Insert your own analogy here, but it all rings true. The Jets' organization, from top down, have themselves to blame for the media "bias" against them. 

Maybe Mr. Ryan will refrain from guaranteeing a playoff spot this season. After all, saying something doesn't mean that it is anywhere near the truth. We know where the Jets stand, and Ryan going all "catfish" on us won't sway that opinion. If it isn't there, it just isn't there. Yes, that's talent I am talking about, not Lennay Kekua. 

Vincent Frank is a NFL featured columnist here at Bleacher Report. He was hired prior to the 2011 season and couldn't be happier working with a great group of individuals here. In addition, Vincent is the head sports editor over at eDraft and co-host of eDraft Sports Radio, which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. ET.

Go ahead and give him a follow on Twitter @VincentFrankNFL.


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