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To believe, or not to believe: That is always the NY Jets fan’s question

Zach Wilson, Robert Saleh, NY Jets
Zach Wilson, Robert Saleh, NY Jets, Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

The time of the year NY Jets fans must make a decision is here

No, William Shakespeare could never call himself a New York Jets fan. Born in 1564, Poet Bill never experienced the slings and arrows of Jets fandom.

Rich Eisen has. Joe Benigno has. Evan Roberts has. Mike Greenberg, the man who depressingly kicks off Jets X-Factor’s All Gas, No Brake 2021 New York Jets hype video, has most certainly experienced the pain.

What Shakespeare could never understand is what those four men, along with millions of others throughout the last six decades, have torturously lived for each time the calendar hit early September.

A conflict of wild emotion.

Hope combined with despair that comes laced with organic pessimism and neuroticism only Larry David (yet another conflicted Jets-fan soul) could showcase sans Jets involvement, is what we’re talking about here.

The decision to believe, or not to believe, in the New York Jets, is always the question entering a new NFL season.

The 2021 NY Jets come with a surprising level of hope

This very moment comes draped with hope. Robert Saleh‘s arrival coupled with Joe Douglas‘s unapologetic long-term vision has provided a fresh sense of stability.

No more hype-filled offseasons with patchwork moves that involve an older high-priced running back in a league that discriminates the position. No more quick fixes that lead to salary-cap hell and another eventual (yet not surprising) rebuild.

Jets fans understand Douglas’s mission statement well by now: culture, salary-cap responsibility, value, a keen sense of personnel and development.

Zach Wilson, already a team captain as a fresh-faced rookie, enters the season as the new hope of a franchise still looking for its first true superstar quarterback since Joe Namath.

Elijah Moore is exactly what the 2021 NFL doctor ordered, Alijah Vera-Tucker is said to be the next can’t-miss beastly guard in this league, Corey Davis has already seemed to find his second professional football legs, and even C.J. Mosley looks good after missing nearly two full seasons.

Realizing Adam Gase is gone and the questions surrounding Sam Darnold’s ability to reach superstar status are no more, Jets fans are ready to bust out in full delirium at 1 p.m. ET this coming Sunday from Carolina.

Why not go crazy? Why not allow yourself to get a little excited?

Well, because this fanbase has so many scars that it’s tough to even pretend there’s no downside to such optimism.

New York Jets fans have been bitten by this bug before, only to have their hearts repeatedly broken. In spite of every positive that seemingly drowns out the few negatives, only a toe in the water is warranted for a good percentage of the entire pie that root for the green and white.

New York Jets, Jets X-Factor

Oh, the pain: NY Jets season disappointments

The list of New York Jets season disappointments is a long one, no doubt. And not only are we referencing disappointing seasons here, but we’re also afforded the opportunity to select horror campaigns that either started out so swimmingly or were projected to be brilliant.

The NY Jets 1999 season snaps via Vinny Testaverde’s achilles

The 1999 season represents the worst of the worst.

Projected to win the Super Bowl by most pundits, Bill Parcells’s 1999 Jets were primed to take that next step. Unfortunately, Vinny Testaverde’s achilles tendon had other ideas.

The stunned crows at The Meadowlands immediately knew what happened. Tom Tupa’s heroic effort and Keyshawn Johnson’s postgame rant could do anything to change that team’s already settled misfortune.

The NY Jets 2008 Brett Favre stunning stretch bummer

Knocking off the undefeated Tennessee Titans moved the 2008 Jets to 8-3. Celebration burst out in Northern New Jersey and Long Island, for this Eric Mangini team had the goods—to go with an actual quarterback.

Then, in classic Jets fashion, Brett Favre starts playing terribly. It wasn’t until after the season that everybody found out Favre had been playing injured.

From 8-3 and on top of the NFL world to 9-7, losing four of their last five games was face-planted when outcast Chad Pennington took the AFC East crown with his Miami Dolphins in East Rutherford in Week 17.

The NY Jets 2007 season forces the Mangenious talk to suddenly halt

The decade of the 2000s was a rollercoaster for Jets fans. From a surprise season to a disappointment, is how it usually went. And the 2007 season qualifies as one of the dips.

After winning 10 games, 2007 turned into a flat-out disaster. The Jets just weren’t yet ready for primetime.

The NY Jets 2003 season was stolen via Chad Pennington’s broken arm

“You play to win the game.” Apparently, Herm Edwards’s teams also played preseason games to break quarterback’s arms.

Pennington’s broken arm in the Jets-Giants preseason game back in 2003 was just one of those things. The hype was loud coming into that campaign after a dominant stretch run the year prior.

How silly does the Jets fan feel to be all-in on the 2003 squad?

The NY Jets 1983 season couldn’t get over the A.J. Duhe hump

Richard Todd waited for the 1982 AFC championship game to put up his most classic stinker. But hey, after a final-four finish, the 1983 season was projected to be a good one.

It was not to be.

The late Joe Walton’s first year as Jets head coach ended in utter disappointment. New York mustered just seven wins despite employing the best defensive line in the league.

The NY Jets 2016 season was dead on arrival via a murderous schedule

The only thing better than 2015 Fitzmagic would have been 2016 playoff Fitzmagic the following season. Instead, Jets fans got holdouts and frustration.

It turned Ryan Fitzpatrick from one of the more beloved New York athletes into a villain. His play in early 2016 also didn’t help. Neither did that ridiculously tough schedule.

Yet another hyped-filled summer gone to waste.

To believe, or not to believe, is always up to the individual

Making matters worse is the idea that this franchise often surprises the fans when things couldn’t seem worse.

After the 2017 offseason firesale that saw Brandon Marshall, David Harris and others depart town, NFL pundits were nearly unanimous in the idea that the Jets boasted the worst roster in the sport. However, the Jets then did a very Jets-like thing.

They actually won some games.

Predicted to go 0-16 by many, New York started 3-2 and found itself 4-5 after nine games with veteran Josh McCown at the helm. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah even publicly apologized to the Jets via Twitter early that season, for having announced to the world that they did indeed employ the worst roster in the NFL.

Let’s also not forget about the 2006 Jets, the team that saw Eric Mangini and Mike Tannenbaum do the right thing in the first round. Despite not having much to showcase at the skilled positions, coupled with a weakened-armed Chad Pennington, Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s arrival coincided with a then-shocking 10-win season.

Just when you think they’re down, they shock you. Just when you think they’re ready to take that next step, they break your heart.

To believe, or not to believe, is the correct phrase for the bruised, battered and beaten collection of football fans who root for the New York Jets. The only question now is, “Where do you stand on the 2021 version of your beloved football squad?”

Believe at your own risk.

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