Back when I was about five years old, my parents got me a rabbit. His name was Skippy, because as a child I was unimaginative and quite boring.
Skippy seemed like a happy bunny: never really tried to bite me, had plenty of space to run around and did his best to not poop on the carpet.
His only problem was that he seemed a little lame. Not lame in the "Wow, this thing is friggin lame" sense, but one of his legs was sort of weak. Then one day Skippy was allowed to roam free, and he decided to hop behind the TV and see what wire tasted like.
Next thing I knew the TV was off, and our living room smelled like burned chicken.
That damn bunny is the best way to describe the Jets.
You see, us Jets fans are normally a quiet, abused lot. Sure, the cameras sometime pick up some jack wagon that looks like a bloated Steve Buscemi screaming at an infant, but that's the fringe. Every fanbase has someone like that.
Jets fans have a history with their team that is unlike any other. The Jets are not a part of the community like the Bills, Browns or Packers are to their respective cities. They're not even the most loved football team in their city.
Instead for years the Jets have been the also-rans, and rightfully so. Somehow, a terrible team with minimal history hasn't surpassed one of the most respected franchises in all of professional sports. We take our title of "Little Brother" and accept it.
However, we're starting to believe it's time for our moment in the sun.
The Jets have been straight garbage for most of my life. Not just my adult life—my entire existence. From incredible highs (Jets taking on Denver in 1998 in the AFC Championship to go to the Super Bowl—notice how I didn't include a win here?) to incredible lows (pick anything, really), I've been through a lot.
I've never abandoned the team, because much like a battered spouse, I figured things could get better, that there was some good there. Don't get me wrong, I've been close. However, I just couldn't bring myself to call that taxi.
Ever have an argument with someone about whose team is better, and be out after the first name? Yeah, that's the Jets.
These same abusive Jets have a HUGE game on Sunday against the Patriots in Foxboro. This isn't just the Jets playing an enemy. This isn't just the Jets playing a playoff game against the No. 1 seed.
No, this is the game where the Jets could finally shake The Black Hand.
I'm not talking about some "Coast To Coast" creature that you'd hear at 1 a.m. on some radio stations. I'm talking about the constant feeling of a loss being imminent.
Before this year, you could have swore that every game was a guaranteed "L" in the standings. Sure, we had a few good years, but those are so few and far between that bragging about the wins seems petty. Go 12-4? Well here's 8-8. Go 3-13? How's 1-15 feeling?
Detroit Lions fans know how this works. Whenever I go out and see someone in Lions apparel, I feel the need to buy that person a drink. For they—and really only they—know the pain of a franchise that is so terrible that movies from the 1980s can bash them and the reference not seem dated.
The Lions had Barry Sanders, one of—if not the—greatest running backs of all time until he retired in 1998. The Jets have Joe Namath, who retired in 1977 and is one of the worst players to be in the Hall of Fame. Heck, even the Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills have been to a Super Bowl since 1969.
As a Jets fan, when you're given some hope, some freedom to go out and puff your chest, the Jets will go and bite the proverbial wire. With a split of the season series (although that thumping the Jets took in Week 13 should count three more times), the stage is set for great matchup between two great teams.
One team has been talking smack all week, making rude comments about the opposing QB and making it personal. That same team has looked completely lost at some points this year and has limped into the playoffs the past two years.
The other team has a three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback and coach.