Being the father of a three-year-old boy is great.
One of the few times it becomes difficult is on certain Sundays when your team—whose rookie quarterback throws 20 picks against 12 TDs during the season, whose coach thought they were mathematically eliminated too soon, who wasn't supposed to be in the playoffs, or win the first round—is playing in a playoff grudge match with what might be the best team in football and holding their own.
And no matter how demonstrative I get or how many times I try to lead my son in a chorus of “J-E-T-S” he still would rather be watching Nick Jr.
So, while juggling the dual responsibility of die hard fan and role model to future citizen, I allow my son to put a plastic fireman’s cap on me, which is two sizes too small, and suddenly Jim Leonhard intercepts an ill-advised pass from Philip Rivers.
Believing that the flimsy red plastic has a direct line to Divine Authority, I allow it to cut into my skull as Shonn Greene busts through San Diego’s front line and beats their safety, vowing not to take it off until the game is over.
I finally remove it after the final play and, encouraged by the outcome, I inspect the deep indents in my forehead, knowing that more than that silly cap or stifling defense or powerful offensive line, which paves the way for the ground attack, something else played a role in this cathartic experience...and that was lady luck.
To backtrack, there was a point at which I almost took the cap off, and that was when Philip Rivers snuck into the end zone for a one-yard TD score bringing the Chargers within three points at 17-14. I resisted the temptation but I did send a quick text to my friend which asked, “Same old Jets or brand new Jets?” knowing the answer would arrive shortly.
However, the Jets have been anything but my father’s version this season. Sure, there were the spectacular Miami debacles, the ugly Buffalo setback in which Mark Sanchez threw five picks, the eerily disturbing home loss to the Falcons which prompted Rex Ryan to believe the Jets were eliminated from playoff contention, and the injuries to key cogs Kris Jenkins and Leon Washington that would normally shatter teams...but did not.
Somehow, the Jets maintained poise in spite of the setbacks. Something they had never been equipped to do in the past and would be usually followed by that old loser’s lament “Same old Jets.”
But the naysayers believe they shouldn’t be in the tournament—that they were lucky because the Indianapolis Colts pulled their starters in Week 16 and let them creep back into the tournament. Well, isn’t that just further proof of the profound change in this team’s fortunes? When was the last time anybody ever called the Jets “lucky”?
Now, as luck would have it, Indianapolis gets to play the team it let have life in the first place, and I can’t say that I think the Jets will win this game. Did David ever beat Goliath twice?
After all, I was happy when they made the playoffs. I was even happier when they beat Cincinnati. And I keep telling myself that it’s all gravy from here on out and not to get too over-excited like I have in the past, but it’s hard not to be with these brand new Jets.