The Home Team: My very own twelve-step program
This Sunday is, of course, the Super Bowl. It’s the 51st installment of this classic — and the 48th consecutive Super Bowl to be played without the participation of my New York Jets.
Does this bother me? Maybe a little. But I’ve been making an effort to try to not allow the Jets to make my life miserable.
This campaign started back on New Year’s Day. A bunch of us were in Vermont, walking with my dog outside in the snow. It was about 12:45 PM. “Hey,” my wife said, “aren’t you worried about missing the opening kickoff?” The Jets vs. Bills game was scheduled for one o’clock. My team was starting the day with a record of four wins and 11 losses, and had long since been eliminated from playoff contention.
“Nah, I don’t care about the kickoff,” I answered. “Actually, I’m not going to watch any of the game. It only gets me depressed.”
“Whoa!” exclaimed Chris, our son’s friend. “That’s the first step of your 12-Step Program. Acknowledging the problem.”
I had to admit — it was a brilliant concept. Here are the next steps in my program.
Step Two: Don’t make everything about the Jets. The very next day, January 2, I watched USC — our youngest son’s alma mater — eke out a thrilling 52-49 win over Big Ten powerhouse Penn State, ending the year with a number three national ranking. And all I could think about during the game was how good Sam Darnold, Southern Cal’s standout quarterback, would look in green-and-white. Need to work on this.
Step Three: Get over quarterback envy, in general. This Sunday, as I watch the Falcons’ Matt Ryan loft guided missiles to Julio Jones, I have to keep myself from musing, “Why can’t we have a quarterback who can throw passes to somebody in the same-colored jersey?”
Step Four: Dwell on all the things in life that spark joy more than watching the Jets. Like being stuck in traffic on I-95. Waking up with muscle cramps in my toes. Waiting on line in Starbucks. Picking up dog poop.
Step Five: Take pride in the hallowed place my Jets hold in the great plays of all time. There was the “Immaculate Reception” by Franco Harris of the Steelers in 1972. There was the “Helmet Catch” by David Tyree of the Giants in 2008. And then there was the “Butt Fumble” by Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez on Thanksgiving Day 2012.
Step Six: Be thankful that NFL teams play only 16 games. Imagine if this were baseball, and I had to watch the Jets 162 times a year!
Step Seven: Instead of dwelling on the Jets, try to think about the more gratifying teams you root for in other sports. Like the New York Mets . . . who haven’t won a World Series in 30 years? And the New York Knicks . . . who haven’t won an NBA championship in 43 years?
Step Eight: Try to appreciate the heartening things taking place in this country outside the world of sports. For starters, there’s our wonderful new President, who apparently thought he was still hosting The Apprentice earlier this week when he told Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, “You’re fired!”
Step Nine: Think back to the years when the Jets were not a laughingstock. Remember 2009 and 2010, when they made it to the AFC Championship game? And let’s not forget 1969, when they won the Super Bowl. So what if I was still in college?
Step Ten: Avoid envying the success of certain other NFL teams: Just because the New England Patriots play in the same division as my Jets, I shouldn’t resent that they’ve been to nine Super Bowls (most of any team), have made it to the playoffs eight years in a row, have beaten the Jets 10 of the last 12 times the two teams have met, have the best quarterback in the game (Tom Brady), and the best coach in the game (Bill Belichick).
Step Eleven: Remember — your Jets once had Bill Belichick as coach. Yeah. In 2000. For one day. After which he resigned to accept the head coaching job for . . . who was it? Ah, yes. The Patriots.
Step Twelve: Celebrate a new beginning. In April, my first grandchild — a boy — is due. He can have a fresh start. He doesn’t have to inherit the misery of being a Jets fan. He can root for any team at all.
So this Sunday, in line with my program, I’ll just sit back, relax, and enjoy the Super Bowl, for the sheer thrill of competition. I don’t ask much. Simply that the Falcons give the Patriots a butt-kicking of historic proportions. And that Tom Brady spends the entire evening flat on his back, under a pile of black-and-red jerseys. And that Bill Belichick leaves NRG Stadium humbled, humiliated, crying Uncle.
I’m feeling better already.
“The Home Team” appears the first Friday of every month. You can also keep up with Hank’s adventures on his blog, “Beagle Man,” on the Westport News website, at: http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/ To reach Hank, e-mail him at DoubleH50@gmail.com. [CLOSE ITALICS]