by Kevin James Shay
At the risk of putting my foot in my mouth, I will go out on a limb: The New York Jets have just overtaken the 1986 University of Miami football squad as the most hated, loathsome sports team in history.
The evidence starts with the head coach. Before the season, Rex Ryan wrote on the ESPN Tour Bus "Soon To Be Champs" and repeated the braggado several times. He has made an obscene gesture to Miami Dolphins fans and has done nothing to stop his team from engaging in unprofessional trash talk before most games.
Just this week, Ryan had the gall to suggest that his team doesn't "try to bad-mouth an opponent."
Prior to the Patriots game, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie called New England quarterback Tom Brady an "a**hole" and said "f**k him" in reference to the quarterback's history of taunting. Brady took the high road in response.
Then there is Jets linebacker Bart Scott, who became likely the first athlete in history to publicly support his coach's right to engage in foot fetish videos. Before the Patriots game, Scott put out a bounty on Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, saying his playing days were "numbered." Welker's crime? Giving a comedy routine that would make Bill Maher proud with 11 or so foot and toe references in an interview.
It was not trash talking. It was just a subtle jab at Ryan and the Jets, some of whom used much stronger language and even violent threats in response.
Yet who got benched in the game? Welker, who was made by Belichick to sit out the first series. Ryan did nothing to discipline Cromartie and Scott.
After the Jets defeated the Patriots, Scott sounded more like an unprofessional wrestler in an interview with ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, trashing Tom Brady and complaining that the Jets get little respect.
"Disrespect us, talk crap about the defense—like we ain't the third-best defense in the league—all we hear is about [Patriots] defense," Scott bellowed into the live TV mike as Paolantonio cowered. "They can't stop a nosebleed—25th in the league—and we the ones that get disrespected!"
Last summer, Sports Illustrated released a list [ see http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/more/07/23/most.hated.teams/index.html ] of the 25 all-time most-hated teams. The 1986 University of Miami football team got the top spot, mostly due to alleged crimes committed by college players. The 1988-89 Detroit Pistons were second and the 1992 Cowboys were third. The 2007 Patriots were sixth. No player from the Pats came close to saying publicly what several Jets have said this year, although they are on that list for their hypocrisy, cheating, and arrogance.
The 2010 Jets deserve their shot at this list. They have certainly put their best foot forward trying to make it.