The League

Michael Kun
Author

Michael Kun

Co-author of The Football Uncyclopedia. He is also the author of six other books and is a practicing attorney.

Please shut up

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As a longtime fan of the New York Jets, I have one thing to say to this year's squad: Please shut up.

Shut your mouths, and play football, because this incessant trash talking is making it very difficult for even diehard fans to root for you these days. It's almost reached the point where it's an embarrassment to call oneself a Jets fan because of all the new baggage that carries.

The old baggage -- a team that was occasionally hapless and, even when good, rarely good enough to actually host a playoff game -- was bad enough, but at least it was bearable.

The new baggage is just plain embarrassing. Rooting for this incarnation of the New York Jets is like saying you're a fan of Charlie Sheen or Mel Gibson. It's like telling people you were in Bernie Madoff's wedding. It's like getting caught with a Justin Bieber tune on your iPod.

The new baggage begins with the ceaseless trash talking, frequently from players who should be happy just to be getting a paycheck. (We're looking at you Antonio Cromartie. A guy who gets burned more often than a Benihana trainee really shouldn't be bragging to anyone. The list of wideouts who haven't shown you up would fit on a Post-It note. One of the little ones.)

Then there's the endless trash talking from your head coach Rex Ryan, who can dish it out but can't take it. (Thank you, Wes Welker, for your foot-tastic interview last week.) If there's ever been a head coach with less class than Ryan, it's hard to recall him. Being a great defensive coach is one thing. Behaving like a high school lout when you're in your 40s and entrusted with the care of a professional sports team in New York is something else. And this theory that Ryan draws the attention to himself in order to take the pressure off his players? Nonsense. He's an attention-loving buffoon whose antics put more pressure on his players, not less. If he keeps running his mouth, he's going to get Mark Sanchez killed.

Then there was the mistreatment of a female reporter.

Then there was the news that, while a Jet, Brett Favre allegedly texted photos of his genitalia to a female employee. (The strongest evidence in Favre's favor was that he's far too old to know how to text.)

Then there was the strength and conditioning coach casually sticking his knee out to knock a Dolphins special team player off balance. (It could have been worse. He could have stuck out Brett Favre's genitalia.)

Then there was ... do we really need anymore?

A team of blowhards taking its cue from a blowhard.

Is this a team anyone is supposed to be proud to root for?

There is an old Jerry Seinfeld routine where he discussed why fans are loyal to a sports team. It's a funny routine, and I won't even attempt to do it justice here. In short, he explained that because the players aren't actually from the city where they play, and because players switch teams all the time, we fans are ultimately just rooting for the uniforms. This Jets team just happens to wear the same green-and-white uniforms of the teams many of us have loved and rooted for. They just happen to wear the same uniforms as Namath, Snell, Maynard, Sauer, Todd, Klecko, etc., etc. If they wore different uniforms, do you know what we would do? We would hate them. Passionately.

I, like other Jets fans my age, have been waiting 40 years for the Jets to win another Super Bowl. But if they win it with this team, with this coach, we will have very mixed feelings. Yes, they will have won another championship (finally). But at what cost?

The Jets have a week -- and perhaps three -- to change all of this for themselves and for us.

Who knows if trash talking has any effect on a professional athlete? Is it possible that it throws a player off his game or makes him do something rash that he wouldn't have done otherwise? Sure, it's possible, but at this elite level it seems unlikely. At this level, trash talking is mostly, if not entirely, about self-aggrandizement.

The winner of Sunday's Steelers-Jets game will be the team that is best prepared. The team that executes the best. The team with the best game plan. That's it. Trash talking won't impact the outcome at all.

If the Jets truly are the best team in the league, as they've been telling us since the moment the Saints wrapped up the last Super Bowl, then here's a novel idea for them: shut up and prove it on the field. Show some class. Show some dignity. Let your fans be proud to be your fans.

And, by the way, if you keep your mouths shut this week and end up losing, you won't look like fools on Monday morning.

We're looking at you Rex Ryan and Antoino Cromartie.

By Michael Kun  |  January 18, 2011; 12:17 PM ET  | Category:  Michael Kun , New England Patriots , New York Jets , Playoffs Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Comments

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If there's ever been a head coach with less class...did you forget a loudmouth named Buddy Ryan?

Posted by: richn | January 18, 2011 2:33 PM

I understand where you're coming from, and I agree that Rex puts more pressure on his players with all of his bloviating. But hating a team that has success is not unique to the Jets - its born out of jealousy. People hate the Cowboys and Steelers because they have had multiple dynasties over multiple decades. People hate the Patriots for their decade-long stoic nature and militaristic efficiency.
The source of hatred towards the Jets is because of our success, not our bravado (which certainly doesnt help)

For the first time in our history, I'm proud to be a jets fan. I feel confident about our team going into big games instead of feeling dread in the pit of my stomach that we're going to screw it all up and turn into the Same Old Jets. And after being picked on by everyone and their mother for being a mickey mouse franchise, New York's 'OTHER' team, drafting poorly, underachieving, etc., i really couldn't care less about what other fans think about us now that we're winning.

And one more thing - it's actually working. Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez, and the whole mouthy bunch have won more playoff games than anyone in Jets history, and we're relevant for the first time since the 60s. They must be doing something right, so I say keep doing it until they stop you.

Posted by: ericmwalker | January 18, 2011 3:26 PM

Eric Walker - I searched for you in the team's archives and couldn't find you. When did you play and what was your number?

Posted by: MHarkaway | January 18, 2011 5:18 PM

Football is a sport. A sport thats ratings are nearly surpassed by other sports such as wrestling. Talk trash, who cares. Anyone that plays or has played football knows, it happens. If you have a problem. Turn your TV off.

Posted by: Mannlax6 | January 18, 2011 9:49 PM

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