Whether 2-3 or in the AFC championship game, the Jets have been able to earn the love of many. And the ire of plenty.
They're brash. They're cocky. They're not afraid to say what they want, when they want, to whomever they want. And with a 4-2 record in the playoffs over two years, both times as a disregarded underdog, they've backed up their talk—well, most of it.
With the Jets, the talk isn't isolated. It's everywhere, all the time. They talk when they win, they talk when they lose. There's no filter when it comes to Gang Green.
In today's sports climate, that makes them villains.
Sports fans like colorful personalities. But the Jets aren't colorful. They're not fun. They don't try to be. They're self-assured at best, angry and resentful at worst. They feel they have a massive chip on their collective shoulder, and they're obsessed with pumping up their bravado to project their self worth. It's swagger on steroids, confidence on shots of espresso.
As a result, it's easy to hate the Jets. Whether due to their antics or the personalities on the team, it's easy to dislike any of the 53 players putting on kelly green and white—but these five personalities rise above the rest.
Rex Ryan has been the ringleader of the Jets' swagger circus. Thirty-one NFL coaches operate as damage control officials, a medium attempting to downplay the soundbites coming from within the team. They want to project an image of stability and peace.
Ryan is the opposite.
Ryan is brash, cocky and, above all, honest. He's not trying to project a front. This is just the way he is.
Because it's his normal self, he doesn't know when to contain it. So he promises championships every year. And he challenges teams that beat him 45-3 to rematches. And he predicts Super Bowl appearances after three-game losing streaks.
And it gets old. Really, really old.
Ryan is undoubtedly a good coach. He's one of the best defensive schemers currently wearing a headset. He's Tom Brady's biggest nemesis, and he has consistently been able to get his team, often at a disadvantage talent-wise, to play its best in the biggest games.
He makes bold guarantees and he puts the spotlight on himself. And to the public, that makes him an enemy in today's NFL.
Plaxico Burress isn't a villain for the typical Jet reasons. He has been relatively quiet since joining New York, but his past qualifies him for the list.
Burress' defining moment came when he accidentally fired a gun into his thigh in a night club in November 2008. He was in prison from September 2009 to June 2011, and bears the criminal tag to this day, even after he resumed his career.
Even aside from his shooting and prison stint, he's been a headache throughout his career. His last year with the New York Giants was a messy one, as he was fined $45,000 for post-game comments and unsportsmanlike conduct in October 2008 and he spoke out against Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin after leaving the Giants.
To the public, he comes across as an attitude problem with a checkered past. He's a player easy to root against.
Bart Scott carries himself with a borderline paranoia towards the people around him.
Need proof? His angry, venomous interview with Sal Paolantonio following the Jets' playoff victory over New England last year should provide it. Scott's words weren't "I told you so." Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Jackson were probably afraid that Scott was hiding in a bush when they got home.
This was Scott being Scott. He's nicknamed the "Madbacker" for a reason. He's one of the biggest talkers in the Jets' locker room, and he's never afraid to insult or ruffle feathers with what he's saying.
As one of the biggest smack talkers on a team full of it, opposing fans "can't wait" to see him and the Jets lose.
If anyone on the Jets can rival Scott for angry remarks, it's Antonio Cromartie.
Cromartie can live under an opponent's skin. He famously pulled zero punches before last year's playoff game against the Patriots, calling Tom Brady a, well, read here.
Though Cromartie reiterated his comments before last week's matchup, he hasn't limited his words to the two-time MVP. He also got into a war of words with Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall this week, and after Nnamdi Asomugha spurned the Jets in free agency, Cromartie said he was "more of a playmaker" than the multi-time Pro Bowler.
(Of course, the best corners aren't given chances to make plays by quarterbacks, hence Darrelle Revis' zero-interception year last year, but that's besides the point).
If that's not enough, he has more children than he can remember and is allegedly barely literate. Tough mix.
The guy's a gamer. He's as clutch a receiver as there is in the league, with a Super Bowl MVP award to prove it. Whenever the Jets need a big play or a key first down, Mark Sanchez looks for No. 10. And he usually delivers.
But he's a problem. He had off-the-field troubles while at Ohio State and with the Steelers, getting into a bar confrontation that led to his release from Pittsburgh and suspension to start last year.
And this year, he's done little to support his appointed captaincy with the Jets.
His actions have been divisive even outside of the locker room. Some members of the media believe he's taking initiative during a disappointing start. Some say he's blowing up the chemistry of a promising team.
Either way, the guy's got his critics, and he's been a lightning rod for judgment everywhere he's gone.