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    December 30, 2004 -- YOU would think the shocking events of last autumn might alter the viewpoint Jets fans bring into these final hours of football's regular season. You would think watching the Red Sox celebrate on hallowed Yankee Stadium grounds would make Jets fans understand a few simple truths about sports:
    1) Anything really is possible.

    2) Championship droughts don't have to be life sentences.

    3) The mystical forces that try to figure things out for the universe really don't have time to sit around and figure out how to best torture those select sports franchises - be they Red Sox, Clippers, Cubs or Jets - who some believe wander about the world with poxes placed on their homes.

    You would think.

    "I've seen this script way too many times before," a Jets fan from Huntington named Kevin Slattery was telling me the other day, inside a sporting goods store at Roosevelt Field mall, a squib kick down the Meadowbrook from Weeb Ewbank Hall. "The Jets specialize in this kind of [stuff], right? They get you believing, believing, believing, then . . . "

    He slammed his workboot onto the ground and began twisting, as if snuffing a cigarette. Only in this case, instead of a butt of a Pall Mall, he was crushing his own imaginary football soul (thrown on the ground, no doubt, by Paul Hackett).

    "I'm tired of this [stuff], dude," Slattery said. "I've had it."

    It really is one of the fascinating recurring stories in all of New York, these self-loathing, self-fulfilling prophesies espoused by Jets fans whenever their team provides even the slightest glimmer of hope. Yankees fans have their haughtiness, Knicks fans their cosmopolitan wistfulness, Mets fans their feisty complexes, Rangers fans their affinity for bartenders who believe in buybacks.

    Jets fans believe in the Worst Case Scenario.

    "Think about it," said Angelo Vardi, sitting with his Chad Pennington jersey in the stands at the Garden the other night, trying to enjoy a Holiday Festival basketball game but fretting endlessly about his football team. "These are our options: Get some help from the Colts [against the Broncos], who have nothing to play for. Or get some help from the Steelers [against the Bills], who have nothing left to play for."

    I gently remind Angelo that the Jets can make the playoffs simply by beating the Rams in St. Louis on Sunday, that they don't need help from anyone else. He looks at me as if I am speaking Sanskrit.

    "Sure," he said. "Maybe if the Rams had nothing to play for. But they got to play the Eagles last week, and of course they had nothing to play for, either. It wears you out, being a Jets fan."

    It really is an amazing truth about life with the Jets. For years, players have talked about the dark fog that hovers over their headquarters, the ceaseless negativity that lingers there (perpetuated, of course, by many of those same players losing games that still provide their fans with recurring bouts of agita).

    All of this angst obscures one simple fact, of course: Two of the past three years, the Jets had to win the final game of a season to qualify for the playoffs. The first time, it was against a playoff-bound Raiders team that probably would have gone to the Super Bowl if not for the stupid "tuck" rule. The other was against a playoff-bound Packers team.

    The Jets won both times, against opponents that were much better than the Rams team they play Sunday, and neither of those Jets teams were nearly as good as the one that will take the field at Edward James Dome. The Hapless Jets of memory haven't truly existed since Rich Kotite was fired hours after the 1996 season. That's almost a full decade ago.

    The Jets do have issues, and they certainly do have to win this game, and they absolutely do have to make some playoff noise with this team. But their history, no matter how desultory, really should have nothing to do with any of it.


    "At least if we lose," Kevin Slattery said, "maybe we'll fire Hackett."

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  • r8rh8rmike
    Jets Superfan Fireman Ed Retires
    by r8rh8rmike
    Jets superfan Fireman Ed retires

    Updated: November 26, 2012, 4:01 PM ET
    By Rich Cimini |

    New York Jets superfan Fireman Ed, who for decades has fueled home crowds with his famous "J-E-T-S!" cheer, has decided to "R-E-T-I-R-E!"

    Ed Anzalone, who created a stir Thanksgiving night when he left MetLife Stadium at halftime of the Jets' 49-19 loss to the New England Patriots and deleted his Twitter account, announced Sunday night that he no longer will attend home games as Fireman Ed.

    The hits just keep coming for the 4-7 Jets, who became a national laughingstock with a mistake-filled performance on national TV.

    Anzalone, in a guest column for Metro New York, explains that the Jets' poor season isn't the reason why he has decided to hang up his fireman's helmet. He writes he left the game because "confrontations with other Jets fans have become more common, even though most Jets fans are fantastic."

    He says he also left early during the previous home game, a 30-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

    Anzalone cites his loyalty to embattled starting quarterback Mark Sanchez as the cause of the confrontations.

    "The stadium has become divided because of the quarterback controversy," he claims. "The fact that I chose to wear a Mark Sanchez jersey this year, and that fans think I am on the payroll -- which is an outright lie -- have made these confrontations more frequent. Whether it's in the stands, the bathroom or the parking lot, these confrontations are happening on a consistent basis."

    Fireman Ed always used to wear No. 42 (Bruce Harper's old jersey), but he switched to Sanchez in a show of support. During the 2010 season, Anzalone, who rarely attends road games, flew to Pittsburgh and sat near the Jets' bench because he wanted to be there for the then-slumping Sanchez.

    Like Sanchez's father, Anzalone is a retired firefighter. He didn't return messages seeking comment.

    "For people to be harassing him at the game, I don't know. He's not in the locker room with us. He's not on the payroll. He's a regular fan like everybody else is. I don't know why they'd harass him. That's crazy," linebacker Bryan Thomas, the longest-tenured Jets player, said Monday.

    Fireman Ed, 53, has been a Jets fan since 1975. He popularized the cheer that's known around the NFL: "J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!" For the 2012 season opener, he was invited by the team to participate in the pregame ceremony, leading the cheer from midfield.

    He was a staple at Jets home games, leading his cheer from his seat at MetLife Stadium. He always appeared on the JumboTron and often received face time on the game telecast. In September 2009, he received a game ball from coach Rex Ryan after the Jets upset the Patriots...
    -11-27-2012, 03:04 PM
  • DJRamFan
    by DJRamFan
    December 29, 2004 -- THE JETS like to remind us of the small progresses they make, the way the culture in Hempstead is so much better than it used to be. They seem proud as hell to win 10 games. They seem delighted at the prospect of making the playoffs for a third time in four years.
    Bully for the Jets!

    They aren't a football snuff film any more!

    Can that possibly be enough? Can that possibly be the length and breadth of this team's ambitions, especially in a season like this one, founded in such promise, grounded in such early prosperity? Is that really all the Jets believe we should judge them on? That it's been a while since they inspired their fans to wear paper bags on their heads?

    They really need to be more than this. They need to expect more of themselves than this, to demand more of themselves than this. They need to be held accountable for more than this, especially now. The next few weeks loom as an ominous crossroads for who they are and what they want to be.

    Forget the playoffs. They'd better make the playoffs. They'd better get after the Rams early and hit them in the mouth and jump out to the kind of lead that will inoculate them to the kind of weirdness Jets teams are so susceptible to. The Rams are a lousy team that let the Eagles' JV hang around almost to the final gun Monday night.

    It isn't about making the playoffs, not with this Jets team, not in this season. In a now league, the Jets constantly inspire thoughts about the future, about next week, next season, the next five years. They constantly are a work in progress.

    The fact is, there is no guarantee the Jets ever will be better than they are right now. There is no certainty they ever are going to have the confluence of strengths Hall of Fame running back, occasionally brilliant quarterback, above-average line, solid if unspectacular defense any time in the near future.

    The NFL is a fluid league, players coming, players going. There is no such thing as a five-year plan anymore, or even a three-year plan. You get a shot to compete for something special, you'd better take your shot. You'd better not leave any tricks in your back pocket.

    The biggest lie the Jets can sell you right now is that this season is a building block for something better down the road. No way. They are a now team. They have enough talent to compete with the AFC elite in a way that belies what they've done when they've actually played those teams this year. That talent won't be around forever.

    Curtis Martin isn't getting younger. Neither is Kevin Mawae. Lamont Jordan probably will be somewhere else next year. John Abraham might, too. Soon enough, the usual machinations of the NFL square dance will sparkle, and the roster will spin around, and who knows if the same elements will be in place the way they are now?

    -12-29-2004, 03:03 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Jets] Jets Need a Win to Assure Playoff Spot
    by DJRamFan
    AP Sports Writer

    HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- The New York Jets started 5-0, something no other team in franchise history has done.

    And still, they may not make the playoffs. The Jets must win at St. Louis on Sunday to assure themselves of a wild-card berth in the AFC. If they lose, they need help to make it in the postseason.

    The Jets (10-5) have failed to clinch thanks to poor performances in big games, including a 23-7 loss to New England in which they could not muster much of anything. Now they find themselves in a familiar spot.

    In 2001 and 2002, when the Jets made the playoffs under coach Herman Edwards, they needed victories in their regular-season finales to advance to the postseason.

    "It seems like our team likes these situations," Chad Pennington said. "We like drama. We have definitely created a bunch of it."

    The Jets had a chance to clinch a spot with a victory over New England, but the game spun out of control quickly. After controlling the ball for most of the first quarter, the Jets had no points to show for it. But the Patriots did not make the same mistakes.

    New England led 13-0 at halftime, and the Jets were all but out of it. They had to rely on the pass in the second half, which led to a season-low in yards rushing with 46. They also tied for second-lowest total plays with 57, and had a paltry 279 yards of total offense.

    To avoid the embarrassment of failing to reach the postseason after such a strong start, all the Jets need to do is win. But if they lose, there might be trouble. They can still make it with a loss, coupled with a loss by either Buffalo or Denver.

    But if Buffalo beats Pittsburgh, Denver beats Indianapolis and the Jets lose, New York would miss the playoffs because the Bills hold the edge over their division rival based on common opponents.

    "We have the upper hand. All we have to do is win a game," Edwards said. "That should be your mind-set. I'm not going to rant and rave and do a pep rally and do a cheerleading drill. These guys are professionals. They know where they are at in this season."

    Some of them also know how it is to go into the final game of the season needing a victory. In 2001, the Jets needed to win at Oakland, a place that caused them problems.

    And they did. John Hall kicked a 52-yard field goal and the Jets made it to the first round, where they promptly lost to the Raiders. In 2002, the Jets overcame a 1-4 start and needed some help plus a win over Green Bay in the final to make the postseason.

    The help worked out. New England beat Miami, and the Jets trounced Green Bay 41-0 to give them the AFC East.

    "If you look at the last couple of times we've gotten to the playoffs, it's always down...
    -01-01-2005, 03:13 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Jets] Paul could go
    by DJRamFan
    Hackett in firing line if Jets flop
    Jets Insider


    If Paul Hackett (l.) can't get offense in gear for Herman Edwards, Jets fans may get their wish and be rid of embattled coordinator.

    When the Jets' season is over, whether it ends Sunday in St. Louis or somewhere in the playoffs, Herman Edwards will sit down with the brain trust and tackle the one big question that should (and will) occupy their thoughts from January to July:
    What can we do to close the gap with the Patriots?

    Answer: Improve the offense. Duh.

    Their solution: If they don't make the playoffs, hard to fathom for a team that started 5-0, Edwards almost certainly will ask Paul Hackett to hand over his playbook. If the Jets qualify, then lay an egg in the first round, it could be the same outcome.

    Put your ear to the walls at Weeb Ewbank Hall, and you can hear the rumblings. The embattled offensive coordinator is starting to look like the fall guy - if, indeed, they need a fall guy. Publicly, Edwards has remained supportive of Hackett, but the Jets' coach is troubled by the lack of point production.

    Asked Monday if there's a common denominator in their five losses, Edwards listed their point totals in those games: 7, 17, 17, 6 and 7. He rattled them off as if they're ingrained in his brain. They are. "Obviously, we didn't light up the scoreboard against those teams," said Edwards, who almost fired Hackett a year ago.

    Those teams - the Patriots (twice), Ravens, Bills and Steelers - happen to be ranked among the top seven in scoring defense, so it's not like the Jets are failing against a bunch of 98-pound weaklings.

    So how do they fix it? Because nine of the starters are locked into long-term, big-money contracts, the Jets won't have much flexibility in terms of improving personnel. If anything, the talent level could slip, with RT Kareem McKenzie and backup RB LaMont Jordan headed toward free agency. So the question becomes, if you can't change the players, how do you get better? Usually, the team changes the coach.

    A year ago, Edwards got rid of players and coaches on defense, hiring Donnie Henderson to rebuild the unit. How did it work out? Like they say in the beer commercial, "Brilliant!" Henderson's success, no doubt, will factor into Edwards' decision on Hackett.

    Hackett is signed through 2005, meaning his contract will have to be addressed in the offseason. No one wants a lame-duck coordinator. So it will be re-up or cut bait. You could make a decent case in support of Hackett. He has gone the last seven games with Quincy Carter and a banged-up Chad Pennington at quarterback. He doesn't have a threat at tight end. As for those conservative game plans, which seem to emerge every time they play...
    -12-29-2004, 03:00 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Jets] Tough going gets Jet 'O'
    by DJRamFan

    Chad Pennington and Jet offense are grounded in latest big game.

    Justin McCareins and LaMont Jordan acknowledged yesterday what many Jets fans have been saying for weeks: When the Jets face upper-tier teams such as the Patriots and Steelers, their offense loses the aggressive mentality it displays against weaker opponents.
    "You can't fight (Mike) Tyson or fight Lennox Lewis the same way you fight a (club) fighter," Jordan said. "You have to step up your game. You have to be a lot faster, you have to be a lot more aware of what's going on."

    Referring to Sunday's 23-7 loss to the Patriots, Jordan said, "Clearly, we went into a heavyweight fight (against the Patriots) thinking we were fighting a lightweight. That's how we played."

    Jordan continued, "We already know what the problem is. It's just a matter of solving it. We don't play well against good teams. Why? I have my own personal feelings, but I'm going to keep that to myself."

    The pattern is alarming. In eight games against teams with winning records, the Jets are averaging 17.6 points per game, including 6.7 in three games against the Patriots and Steelers. In the other games, they're averaging 23.3 points.

    Herman Edwards is keenly aware of the numbers, and he might do something about it. Offensive coordinator Paul Hackett is believed to be on shaky ground.

    "Obviously, we don't light up the scoreboard against those (elite) teams," Edwards said.

    McCareins, who leads the team with a modest 50 receptions, said the offense "isn't coming out with the same confidence and fire" against the so-called elite teams.

    "It just seems like the winning teams not only have our number, but we're not coming out as fired up and swinging the first punch like we would against other teams," McCareins said. "I think we need to believe in ourselves a little bit more and believe in the quality players that we have on this team."

    Some players seemed puzzled as to why the Jets ran only 18 times against the Patriots. After all, they had the NFL's leading rusher, Curtis Martin. Edwards said the game plan was to come out throwing, trying to exploit the Patriots' injury-riddled secondary. That, they believed, would open up the running game. Usually, the Jets are a run-first team, hammering opponents with Martin and Jordan.

    "I've said it plenty of times before: Our offense goes where the run game takes it," Jordan said.

    The Jets are 1-4 in the games in which they rushed for under 108 yards. Against the Patriots, they were held to a season-low 46 yards.

    Edwards issued a new challenge to the offense, declaring it will need a big day to keep pace with the high-scoring Rams in the season...
    -12-28-2004, 10:00 AM