New York Jets Prepare To Be "America's Team" on HBO's "Hard Knocks" This Summer
This is what a surprise run to the AFC Championship game can get you.
Your very own television show!
In an offseason that has been full of Jets headliners since they fell to Indianapolis in that aforementioned title game, the latest now has the Jets starring in HBO's annual right for open-mic'd big mouths with bigger egos in Hard Knocks, a training camp diary that follows a team from Day One of training camp all the way to the final preseason game.
For Jet fans this is an exciting time. The Jets have never been treated like kings in the franchise's history, and in just two months since the end of the season, this franchise seems to be grabbing more headlines in New York than are the Mets and Yankees, both of whom are about to start their season in a matter of days.
Such publicity is the root of the Jets' plans, the desire to be New York's Team! New Jersey's Team! Hey, and if they win a Super Bowl with all this publicity, why not push the Cowboys for the title of America's Team?
Consider that Woody Johnson made a big fuss over a meaningless coin flip that awarded the Giants the first regular season game at the new "GIANTS STADIUM."
But, while the Giants get a 1 p.m. kickoff on the first Sunday, the Jets are the real winners because they receive two gifts from the NFL—they get to open their home schedule the next day on Monday Night Football, and they will get to host a game on Thanksgiving night, rumor has it that they will face the Texans on Thanksgiving.
Consider the fact that the Jets signed another aging Hall of Famer in LaDainian Tomlinson, a guy who looked finished each of the last two seasons, but whose name still reverberates through the league.
Also, the Jets are opening the brand new stadium with the Giants and are still trying to sell Jets tickets; why not give fans more rhyme and reason to buy PSLs than to have them star in prime-time game slots and have them on HBO?!
The Jets in many ways are trying to make people forget about the Giants, and the Giants are just a little over two years removed from winning the bling-bling that the Jets do not possess. The Jets want people to come see them—bottom line.
What should we expect from Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the New York Jets? Well, we know that Rex Ryan will have a lot say, and there may be less of him (physically, that is) after his lap band surgery that will allow the coach to lose some weight.
If you thought he had a lot to say about Bill Belichick and Channing Crowder last year, imagine what he will say on HBO! Keep the kiddies away!
Bart Scott, Kris Jenkins, and Damien Woody have built reputations as guys who love the camera, and HBO will most definitely track Mark Sanchez and his work back from knee surgery.
Keep in mind this is New York, and when the Jets return to New Jersey, there will still be another week or two left in the Hard Knocks series; don't be surprised to see HBO tail some players into the city, the way they followed Chad Ochocinco living up the nightlife in Cincinnati during training camp.
This sounds great, and it will make for must-see TV...could even break ratings records for HBO in the New York/New Jersey market.
However, is all of the publicity really good for the Jets?
Training camp is a time when the players are supposed to hunker down, get to work, learn to live and play with each other, and focus on something called football. Teams in the recent past that have tried Hard Knocks haven't exactly hoisted the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the year.
The 2007 Chiefs tried it after a 9-7 playoff season in 2006. They went 4-12 in 2007. The Cowboys tried Hard Knocks in 2008, and, after their 13-3 season the year prior, the 'Boys went 9-7 in 2008.
The Bengals are the only team to have some success in spite of Hard Knocks, so maybe the good karma will rub off. Who knows?
Just remember the Jets were 9-7 last season; by no way were they blowing people out of old Giants Stadium on a week-in, week-out basis. Heck, they even had four hideous losses at home on their resume.
When the Jets started to make their push after the Colts took their starters out of a game against the Jets in Week 16, this team went on an incredible roll that sent it back to Indy to face the Colts.
During that one-month stretch the Jets received more praise then they have ever received. Not even the 1998 Jets squad that went 12-4 and had Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick on the coaching staff—Curtis Martin, Vinny Testaverde, Bryan Cox, Keyshawn Johnson, and Wayne Chrebet on the field—received as much support during its run as this year's team.
Diehard fans were joined by bandwagon fans at pep rallies in Manhattan and New Jersey. Media outlets all over were tickled with the idea that the Jets could win the Super Bowl this year. People felt that the 2009 Jets could do the unthinkable and win the Super Bowl as a 9-7 team.
It would have been great, it would have been wonderful, but it didn't happen.
Everyone is excited about the prospects of the Jets in 2010. Many news outlets will pick Gang Green to go to the Super Bowl and possibly win it due to their No. 1 defense and running game. Hard Knocks will try to paint this as the dynasty of the future, and the franchise will slogan 2010 as the drive to Forty-Five.
But lets just remember that the Jets were 9-7.
They were average most of the time. Looked dead other times.
They have holes at defensive end and questions at running back, wide receiver, and kicker. They have been restricted in free agency thanks to the "Final Eight Rule" in this un-capped year.
And their 2010 schedule won't be easy: Green Bay, Minnesota, @ Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New England twice, Miami twice, @ Denver, Houston, and @ Chicago—all of those teams expect to win big time in 2010 as well.
So before the Jets take bows for being the new "America's Team" with television deals, a half-dozen prime-time games, and signing one Hall of Famer after another, do the "real" Jets fans a favor...win the Super Bowl first!
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