The New York Jets. What comes to mind to the everyday sports fan when the name Gang Green is muttered? Broadway Joe and the guarantee? Fireman Ed yelling out his "J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS" chant at every home game? Maybe it's Rex Ryan dressing up like his brother for a press conference? To each person the image that pops into their minds will be different, but are the Jets really hated?
Until Ryan took over the head coaching position, you would be hard press to find someone not in New England, Miami or Buffalo that could claim hatred for New York's second most popular team. But all that has changed.
Ever since Ryan has taken the helm, he has spewed out left and right about how good his team is, Super Bowl championship guarantees have become an every year occurrence and Ryan's bravado has made him one of the most polarizing figures in sports.
But polarizing can mean several different things. For Jets fans who sat through three seasons of boring monotonous Eric Mangini, it was a breath of fresh air. Mangini, who was part of the Bill Belichick coaching tree, taking up his all business approach to the head coaching job.
But the fact of the matter is, in New York, unless your winning championships, that shtick gets real old real quick. Ryan's unique blend of confidence and honesty has made him a media favorite as well as making him beloved to Jets fans. And don't forget, he's backed it up too. Ryan has led his Jets to two consecutive AFC championship games in his first two seasons as head coach.
However, Ryan has his fair share of haters as well. While to Jets fans his confidence is reassuring, to fans of other NFL teams it can be perceived as obnoxious, annoying and immature. Many view Ryan to be unprofessional, making a joke out of the NFL head coaching position. Ryan is looked at as a goofball, and someone who cannot be taken seriously.
Ryan's attitude has rub off on his players as well. Guys like Bart Scot, who unleashed his infamous "CAN'T WAIT" rant after the Jets upset victory of the Patriots in last year's playoffs. The Jets seem to always be unfazed, supremely confident that no matter what happens, or who they are playing, they're just flat out better.
They have worked harder so that at the end of the day, they will be victorious. Even after getting pummeled by the Pats in their second regular season game, the Jets remained confident and even trash talked their opponents before their divisional playoff game. Many laughed at them and predicted another Patriots beatdown, but the Jets proved them all wrong once again.
Nevertheless, despite all the success, the Jets lack one thing: a Super Bowl ring. And until they get one, all their talk will be looked at by some as nothing but just that. Talk.
But does all that make the Jets the most hated? In baseball, it's the Yankees. In the NBA it's the Heat. But what about the NFL? The first team that may come to many peoples mind is the Dallas Cowboys. Any team that lays claim to the nickname "America's Team" will no doubt have it's haters.
But the Cowboys have been consistently up and down in recent time. The dynasties of the 70's and 90's are long gone. True, Jerry Jones is still the owner, and many people will hate the Cowboys until he decides to hang it up, while many older or middle aged fans will hate the Cowboys until the day they die, for whatever reason they have.
But what about the newer generation of NFL fans? Today's teens and young adults? While it's true they may be more responsive to the Jets style, many may still find it crass and dislike the team for it.
For most NFL fans, their most hated team will be their team's rival. In a league in which only 16 regular season games are played, two games against division rivals every year are amplified even more then in other sports. Only six teams in each conference make the postseason, and often times division games will make the difference about who makes it in and who gets left out.
But as a whole, what NFL team is really hated? The Eagles now become a candidate due to Michael Vick still having his fair share of protestors around the nation and the "dream team" slogan being thrown around. They are likely to garner a fair share of hate this year.
Maybe there are those out there who still hate the Oakland Raiders and Al Davis despite their decade of mediocrity. Many (like myself) despise the New England Patriots for their smug head coach, pretty boy quarterback, cheating methods, and the media's love for every move they ever make (and their three Super Bowls...).
There are certainly other teams that may have a case. But when you take a step back and look at it, it very well might just be the New York Jets. A remarkable feat in just two seasons since Ryan has taken over. If the Jets can follow through on another guarantee from their coach and finally hold up the Lombardi trophy this year, their hate might be amplified even more; but as a Jets fan, I'll make that trade in a heartbeat.