Jets fans already settling in for their dreary winter tradition

‘Tis the season, Jets fans.

Oh, I’m sure you’re digging through boxes looking for holiday decorations this week, but that’s not the season I’m talking about. The week after Thanksgiving for Jets fans means something else – NFL draft season.

This is the sad state of being a Jets fan these days. December is spent watching the WeedEater Bowl to see that wide receiver from Northeast Louisiana Tech State that you’ve heard about. It’s spent studying the bottom of the NFL standings, not the top, trying to figure out who you need to lose for the Jets to move up in the draft.

I bring this up not to twist the knife in Jets fans, but to show some pity. My inbox is filled with messages of frustration from you. I feel bad for you. Who can blame you for feeling duped again by this team that now sits at 3-8?

No one was dreaming of a Super Bowl, but hopes were raised by the presence of Sam Darnold. Then, after that opening-week performance in Detroit, you let yourself fantasize a little bit. Maybe the defense plays lights out … maybe the running game is for real … then reality hit you in the face with a three-game losing streak.

And now the Jets are riding a five-game losing skid, Todd Bowles is playing out the string and it is the eighth straight season you will be watching other teams in the playoffs while the Jets players are watching on TV along with you.

Only the Browns (2002) and Buccaneers (2007) have longer playoff droughts than the Jets. The Bears also last made the postseason in 2010, but it looks as if they may break through this year. The Jets’ playoff drought is old enough to be in the second grade.

As grim as it appears now, hope will return this offseason. It always does. Expectations will be high for Darnold in Year 2. There will be a new coach with a new slogan. The folks at One Jets Drive will paint over all those “One Team, One Goal” signs on the wall. They will sign some free agents with all that cap space that gets you excited. They are introducing new uniforms for 2019, which will be fun. Then, the draft will arrive and the Jets will tell you they got the guy they wanted all along.

Rinse, repeat.

The problem with the Jets organization is that the highlight of the calendar year seems to come every spring with the draft instead of in the fall and winter, when the games are played. Jets fans are right to wonder when their team will end the misery.

Think about what Jets fans have endured since the loss to the Steelers in the 2010 AFC Championship Game. You can count on one hand the number of memorable wins they have had since then: the 9/11 win over the Cowboys, Geno Smith on a Monday night in Atlanta, the overtime wins over the Giants and Patriots in 2015. Maybe the Lions game this year. That’s about it for memorable games, and some of those are a reach.

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Now think of all the miserable things that have happened with this team since then: Santonio vs. Sanchez, Victor Cruz, Tebow on a Thursday night in Denver, Tebow in a Jets uniform, Thanksgiving against the Patriots, the Idzik 12, billboards on Route 3, a plane flying over Florham Park, IK Enemkpali, Brady to Gronkowski, Brady to Edelman, Brady to some guy I’ve never heard of, Fitzpatrick in Buffalo, Fitzpatrick at the negotiating table, Brandon vs. Sheldon, Hackenberg, Baker on a Thursday night, Matt Barkley…. it goes on and on.

Being a Jets fan is not easy. Mets fans have two World Series trips in the last 20 years. Knicks fans even have Finals trips in the 1990s to remember. Even Nets fans have the NBA Finals trips in the early 2000s. Giants, Yankees, Rangers, Devils have all had championships in the last 25 years. It has been a long time for Islanders fans, but the older ones experienced a dynasty. Jets fans had one year 50 years ago to celebrate.

So if there is a Jets fan in your life or in the cubicle next to you at work, go over and give them a hug … and maybe a scouting report on the top edge rushers in the draft. They need it.

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