Monday, January 24, 2011
Women Who Enjoy Football: A God Send or a Travesty?
Growing up there was a constant in my house on Sundays unless my mother had other plans--there were snacks galore on the table, cozy couch pillows strewn about on the floor, my father in his favorite chair, and my brother and I lounging on the pillows as I mentioned before. What were we doing?
We were watching Sunday afternoon football.
Now growing up, I watched mostly the New York Giants and the New York Jets games. My father--a diehard Giants fan, my brother grew to be a diehard Jets fan. I, who still thinks my brother is my best friend, rooted for the Jets and still do to this day. Here is a history of the Jets when I started watching with fervor and that is from 1990-1996 and then 2000 to the present day. I stopped watching football when I was in college because of my focus on my studies.
In 1988, the Sack Exchange era ended as Klecko failed his offseason physical and was waived, linebacker Lance Mehl announced his retirement during training camp, and Gastineau retired midseason, citing personal reasons. In spite of these departures, the Jets managed to finish with a 8–7–1 record. They secured a winning record by closing with a victory over the Giants, which cost the Giants a playoff berth.The team performed badly in 1989, finishing 4–12. On December 18, 1989, the Jets hired executive Dick Steinberg from the New England Patriots to take over as general manager. Three days after the Jets' final game at home, a 37–0 loss to the Bills, Steinberg fired Walton and began to search for the team's tenth coach. The disastrous 1989 campaign cost Walton the chance to be the first Jets coach to complete his career with a winning record, a statistic he later admitted he cared about deeply.
Steinberg initially sought to hire Michigan State coach George Perles as Jets head coach, but the university refused to release him from his contract. Steinberg then hired Bengals offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet as the team's head coach. Coslet's offensive schemes, described as "state-of-the-art" by Sports Illustrated, had helped the Bengals to the 1988 Super Bowl. The Jets's poor record had given them the second pick in the draft; the team selected star Penn State running back Blair Thomas, who was expected to have a strong career with the Jets. Instead Thomas proved to be injury prone; he played four unproductive seasons and was cut before the 1994 season began. With the Jets leading late in the fourth quarter of a Monday night game against the Chicago Bears in 1991, Thomas fumbled and the Jets lost the game in overtime. According to former New York Daily News columnist Rich Cimini, the fumble cost Thomas his confidence, which he never regained.
Coslet's first season proved only slightly better than Walton's last; the Jets finished 6–10. In the 1991 NFL Draft, the Jets lost another opportunity to draft a star quarterback, as a draft-day deal which would have allowed them to select Brett Favre fell through.The Jets enjoyed more success in the 1991 season: with a 7–8 record with one game to go, they could clinch a playoff berth by winning against Miami. Jets kicker Raul Allegre (recently signed to replace aging kicker Pat Leahy, who had been kicking for the Jets since the days of Joe Namath) made one field goal to force overtime, and another to win in the extra period. The victory gave the Jets their first playoff berth since 1986. In the wild card game, an O'Brien pass into the end zone in the final seconds of the game was intercepted and the Jets lost to Houston, 17–10.
After a strong performance by rookie quarterback Browning Nagle in the team's 5–0 1992 preseason, Coslet promoted him to the starting lineup. Despite throwing for 366 yards against the Falcons in the opener, then the second highest yardage total for a quarterback making his NFL debut, the team lost 20–17; the Jets lost their first four games. Wide receiver Al Toon retired on November 27, 1992, having received the ninth concussion of his career earlier in the season.Two days later, defensive end Dennis Byrd collided with teammate Scott Mersereau when Chiefs quarterback Dave Kreig stepped forward in the pocket as the two players were about to sandwich him. Mersereau managed to walk away and continue his career with New York, but Byrd suffered a fracture to his C-5 vertebra that left him partially paralyzed.Inspired by Byrd's persistent high spirits, the Jets traveled to Buffalo the following week and defeated the AFC champion Bills. The Jets finished the season with a 4–12 record. When Byrd was honored during the 1993 season, he was able to walk without the aid of canes.
Prior to the 1993 season, the Jets obtained Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason, who had worked with Coslet in Cincinnati.Steinberg signed nine-time Pro Bowler Ronnie Lott to shore up the defense. O'Brien's career with the Jets ended with an offseason trade to the Green Bay Packers, and Freeman McNeil retired after twelve seasons.The Jets suffered another December collapse: they lost four of their last five to finish 8–8. The Jets would have made the playoffs by winning their last game, but were shut out at the Astrodome by the Oilers. Following the season, Steinberg fired Coslet and replaced him with defensive coordinator Pete Carroll.
Carroll's first season, 1994, started well. Going into a November home game against Miami, the Jets were 6–5; a victory over the Dolphins would tie them for the division lead. The Jets built leads of 17–0 and 24–6, but Marino and the Dolphins cut the lead to 24–21 and got the ball for a final-minute drive. Marino completed a pass into Jets territory with just over a half minute remaining. With the clock running, the Dolphins acted like Marino would spike the ball to stop the clock. However, Marino faked the spike and tossed the ball to Mark Ingram in the end zone for the winning touchdown. The Jets lost their four remaining games, completing another December collapse. Prior to the season finale, the Jets announced that Steinberg was ill with stomach cancer; he died the following September. The team fired Carroll after his first season and replaced him with former Philadelphia Eagles coach Rich Kotite.
At the press conference announcing Kotite's hiring, Hess told the media, "I'm 80 years old, I want results now."The results were not what Hess had hoped—the team posted a 4–28 record in Kotite's two years as coach.The Kotite era began with the Jets's sole national television appearance of the season, a Sunday night home loss to the Raiders, 47–10. Most fans headed for the parking lot after the third quarter; many of the people who remained chanted, "Let's Go Raiders". The Jets defeated the Seahawks on the Sunday after Thanksgiving after an inspirational speech by Hess, but again had trouble in December, losing all four games in the month to finish 3–13. In 1996, the Jets brought in veteran quarterback Neil O'Donnell, who had led Pittsburgh to Super Bowl XXX, to lead the offense. The Jets, for the first time since the merger, were in possession of the first pick overall in the NFL Draft, which they used to select wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson. O'Donnell proved injury-prone, and the Jets suffered the worst season in their existence. They lost their first eight games, beat the Arizona Cardinals in Tempe, then proceeded to lose their remaining seven games. Two days before the season finale, on December 20, 1996, Kotite stepped down as head coach of the Jets, effective at season's end. After the last game, a 31–28 home loss to the Dolphins, Kotite was hit with a full cup of beer as he left the field; another fan (fewer than 22,000 attended the game; almost 56,000 ticketholders stayed home) held up a sign, "The End of an Error".
On January 18, 2001, the Jets announced Herman Edwards as the new coach. Edwards, a former linebacker who had worked his way up through the NFL coaching system, had never served as head coach at any level. He was the first African American Jets head coach. Edwards lost his first game, two days before the September 11 attacks. In the wake of 9/11, the NFL had to decide whether to play its games the following weekend. Testaverde and the Jets spoke out against playing the games, and the Jets were prepared to forfeit the game rather than fly. The NFL decided to move the games to the end of the regular season. The Jets needed to win that game, in Oakland against the Raiders, to reach the playoffs, and John Hall kicked a last-minute 53-yard field goal for a 24–22 victory and a playoff berth.Edwards was the first coach to lead the Jets to the playoffs in his first year with the team. In the playoffs, the Jets again played at Oakland. The Jets could not stop the Raiders's passing game, and the Raiders won, 38–24.
The Jets began the 2002 season 1–4, but then put together a six-game winning streak. On the final day of the season, the Jets beat the Packers following a New England victory over Miami. This gave the Jets a 9–7 record, their second division title, and a playoff berth. Pennington had an outstanding day against the Packers and finished the season the top-rated passer in the league. The Jets began the playoffs against the Colts at home, and defeated them 41–0. The Jets then played the Raiders, who again defeated them in Oakland, 30–10. The Jets lost a number of key players to free agency in the offseason. Four signed with the Washington Redskins, including kicker Hall, Laveranues Coles, Chad Morton, and Randy Thomas. During a preseason game against the Giants, Pennington sustained a serious wrist injury, and required surgery. The aging Testaverde stepped in as starter, but led the Jets to only a 2–6 record, including losses to the Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys. The Jets split their remaining games and finished 6–10.
In spite of the team's poor 2003 record, Johnson retained Edwards as head coach and extended his contract through 2007. With a healthy Pennington at quarterback, the Jets began their season at 5–0 for the first time and then lost two of their next three games. During the team's second meeting with the Bills, Pennington suffered a tear in his rotator cuff that caused him to miss three starts. Pennington returned in a 29–7 rout of the Houston Texans. The team struggled toward the end of the regular season, winning only one of their final four games. Despite a final-game loss to the St. Louis Rams, the Jets reached the playoffs. The team travelled to San Diego to play the Chargers in the wild card round and upset them 23–20 on a Doug Brien field goal in overtime. The win sent the Jets to the divisional round against the 15–1 Pittsburgh Steelers. The Jets again took their opponent to overtime, as Brien missed a field goal with two minutes remaining and the score tied. He missed a second field goal in overtime. Pittsburgh kicker Jeff Reed proved more accurate, and the Steelers beat the Jets, 20–17.
In the third week of the 2005 season, both Pennington and backup Jay Fiedler were injured against the Jaguars. With both quarterbacks out for the season, third-string quarterback Brooks Bollinger started with the 41-year-old Testaverde brought out of retirement to serve as his backup. Bollinger played badly in a loss in week four, and Testaverde became the starter. Testaverde had little success, and Bollinger did not fare better when he was reinserted. Martin chose to have arthroscopic surgery on his knee with four games left in the season. The Jets finished 4–12.
On January 6, 2006, Edwards announced his resignation as head coach to take the same position with Kansas City. The Jets received a fourth round pick as compensation for Edwards, who was still under contract with the Jets. On January 17, the Jets announced the hiring of former Patriots defensive coordinator Eric Mangini. Three weeks later, General Manager Bradway stepped down in favor of his assistant, Mike Tannenbaum. Although Pennington took back his starting position, the Jets only managed to split their first eight games. They began the second half with a victory over New England in Foxboro, and lost only two games the rest of the way to finish 10–6 and secure a playoff berth. In the wild card round, the Jets visited Foxboro again, but this time fell to the Patriots, 37–16. For his success in leading the Jets to the playoffs, Mangini received the nickname "Mangenius" and had a cameo appearance on The Sopranos. Brett Favre in a 2008 preseason game against the Washington Redskins
After Mangini's successful rookie season, the Jets had high hopes of further improvement. Following the team's opening loss against New England, the Jets accused the Patriots of videotaping their signals during their practices. Commissioner Roger Goodell fined the Patriots and Belichick, and stripped New England of their first round draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Struggling to a 1–7 start, the Jets benched Pennington in favor of backup Kellen Clemens. The Jets won only three games the rest of the way and finished at 4–12.
Following the 2007 season, Packers quarterback Brett Favre had retired. He wished to return several months later, but found that the Packers had given Aaron Rodgers the starting spot. The subsequent trade talks and rumors were a major story leading up to the 2008 season, and the Jets unexpectedly won the bidding war to trade for Favre. With Favre's acquisition, the Jets released Pennington, who signed with the Dolphins. Despite a good start to the season, the Jets began to falter in December after Favre tore his rotator cuff—he threw five interceptions in the next three games. The season came down to a final game against the Dolphins, led by Pennington, at Giants Stadium. The Dolphins won to take the division title and eliminate the 9–7 Jets from playoff contention.
On December 29, 2008, Mangini was fired after three seasons as head coach, with an overall record of 23 wins and 26 losses. Favre again briefly retired from football on February 11, 2009. Mangini was hired by the Cleveland Browns as head coach.
Most people know the history of Rex Ryan and the new stadium...so not going to post any of that. Now why I am quoting the history of the New York Jets? Here is the rationale--it seems that if a woman is a fan of football she either likes it for two reasons. One: the players are really attractive or two: the uniforms are flattering in all of the right areas. I want to dispel this myth.
Last night after the Jets vs. Steelers game, I needed to vent. I needed to talk. I needed to discuss the game. Now while I did that with David my fiance' I still wanted an outlet; to only be hit with these statements:
"Oh will you stop it already?" "The Jets will come back next year." "Okay can you talk about something else now?" "So you root for a losing team, so what?" The list goes on and on....but if the conversation were between two men, like I observed at work today, the statements were:
"Oh my goodness I can't believe Mark Sanchez almost broke his arm!" "If only the Jets scored a touchdown in the third quarter.." "Rex Ryan has a lot of rebuilding to do. What do you think he should do?"
I then proceeded to shake my head and walk away and these questions popped into my head--why is it okay for men to talk candidly about football but women are shunned? Usually in my dealings with the masculine, I would think they would welcome the opportunity to talk to a female about an interest of theirs. That does not seem the case and it sickens me. It sickens me that even in the year 2011, the American male still holds the 1950's standard of women are to be barefoot and pregnant and only worry about the "womanly" duties. Obviously by the research I did above and wrote, I can handle all of the history and statistics. Obviously I pay more attention to football than just looks and uniforms. So here is my question:
WHY CAN'T DIEHARD FEMALE FOOTBALL FANS BE TREATED THE SAME AS A DIEHARD MALE FOOTBALL MAN?
If someone can explain this to me, I would definitely appreciate it. Do not worry--I will not cry. ;-)