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The most bizarre episodes in New York Jets history

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The New York Jets have had many weird moments in their history

Being a New York Jets fan is an exercise in perseverance. The less hardy have long since deserted the Green and White. Perhaps the more merciful ones teach or convince their children to root for a different franchise.

One of the reasons it’s so hard to root for this team is the sheer number of utterly bizarre incidents that have happened throughout the decades. You can call them embarrassing, and many of them certainly are. You can call them the Jets’ worst moments, and you wouldn’t be wrong, either. But overall, weird and strange don’t even cover it; bizarre is the most descriptive term.

Here are some of the peculiar, outlandish, ridiculous, freakish, odd, absurd, insane moments in New York Jets history.

Everything Rex Ryan

Anything referring to bizarre has Rex Ryan’s name written all over it. The former Jets coach was larger than life, literally and figuratively. He provided much comedy and endless fodder for the voracious New York media, but many of the moments that happened in his tenure made you think, “What on earth?!”

From strange videos and tattoos he made with and of his wife to flipping off a fan at an MMA event to cursing out a Patriots fan at halftime during a game, there was no shortage of weird incidents surrounding Rex. He admitted to thinking about poisoning Peyton Manning’s food when asked how the Jets were going to stop him.

Claiming the Jets were eliminated from the playoffs in 2009 when they weren’t was also weird. It’s even weirder when considering that they went to the AFC Championship that season.

Bill Belichick’s departure

Only in Jets land would a coach write on a napkin that he’s resigning — at his introductory press conference as head coach. Then, that coach would go on to sign with the team’s divisional rival and proceed to haunt the team for two decades.

Oh, and he called it one of the greatest moments of his career.

The Butt Fumble

The Mark Sanchez era with the Jets got off to a promising start, at least for the team, as they went to back-to-back AFC Championships. However, over the next few seasons, the wheels started to come off as the NFL exposed Sanchez for the poor quarterback he was. On Thanksgiving Day 2012, Sanchez ran into the backside of right guard Brandon Moore and fumbled the football. The Patriots returned it for a touchdown.

The Butt Fumble, as it is ignominiously known, is one of the most embarrassing plays in NFL history (though Robby Sabo claims it’s overrated). It’s also one of the strangest. Players run into their blockers routinely, but not that particular part of the anatomy. The fumble returned for a touchdown added insult to injury.

The Punch

Only in Jetsland is the starting quarterback put on the shelf before the season starts due to a sucker punch.

In the 2015 offseason, Rex Ryan was fired and Todd Bowles was hired to replace him. Expectations surrounding the team weren’t high, but Geno Smith was supposed to have another chance to be the Jets’ starting quarterback. During training camp, camp body linebacker I.K. Enemkpali punched Smith in the jaw over a $600 plane ticket that Smith had not repaid. Smith broke his jaw and was listed as out 6-10 weeks, forcing journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick into the lineup.

The irony of the situation was the magical run Fitzpatrick would go on that season. Fitzpatrick posted the second-most passing yards in Jets history (3,905) and set the team record for touchdown passes (31). The team was 10-5 and just had to go into Buffalo to beat the 7-8 Rex Ryan-led Bills, but Fitzpatrick’s three interceptions led to a defeat and elimination from the playoffs.

Sam Darnold’s mono

Geno Smith’s broken jaw wasn’t the only bizarre reason a Jets quarterback missed games. Following a Week 1 defeat to the Bills in 2019, Sam Darnold was diagnosed with mononucleosis, for which he would reportedly be out indefinitely. Darnold ultimately missed three weeks.

The most ridiculous part of this episode, though, was an ESPN graphic about it.

This led to a host of internet memes.

Seeing ghosts

Speaking of Sam Darnold, his unfortunate quote while mic’d up is infamous. Down 24-0 against the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football in October 2019, Darnold said, “I’m seeing ghosts.”

Drunk Joe Namath

Joe Namath was no stranger to controversy during his playing days, and that didn’t change afterward. During a December 2003 game between the Jets and Patriots in East Rutherford, ESPN reporter Suzy Kolber interviewed Namath live. Namath was clearly inebriated and told Kolber “I wanna kiss you” and added that he “couldn’t care less” about what was happening with the Jets.

It was one of the more bizarre incidents on live television.

Fire John Idzik

John Idzik took over from Mike Tannenbaum as the Jets’ general manager in 2013. He lasted just two seasons in New York and owned a 12-20 record. Idzik was more concerned with cutting costs than building a competitive football team. The infamous “Idzik 19” were the 19 draft picks Idzik made, most of whom were colossal busts, including first-rounders Dee Milliner and Calvin Pryor.

Jets fans were utterly disgusted with Idzik from the jump. Their frustration came to a head in November 2014. A plane carrying the sign “Fire John Idzik” flew over the Jets’ training facility during practice. Rex Ryan and Idzik both looked up at the sign. Owner Woody Johnson was also on the field.

Fans will go to some lengths to show their displeasure with a team, but this was a whole different level.

Idzik was also subject to the website firejohnidzik.com on which a Jets fan raised over $10,000 to purchase three billboards near MetLife Stadium to call for Idzik to be fired.

Darrelle Revis vs. former New York Jets

This is an ongoing story as Darrelle Revis continues to deliberately target former New York Jets players on X. It’s one thing to back up Sauce Gardner from attacks against Asante Samuel Jr. It’s a different story when you’re going after Joe Klecko, Nick Mangold, and most recently Antonio Cromartie.

After the pair were announced as members of the Hall of Fame class of 2023, Klecko said in a radio interview that Revis had told him the two best defensive players ever to play for the Jets. Revis responded on X with a bizarre diatribe.

Not long thereafter, a Jets fan asked on X whether fans preferred Nick Mangold or Revis. Revis’ response on X poked at Mangold for no reason.

Seems like Revis would agree with C.J. Stroud about Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning.

On The Jake Asman Show, Cromartie discussed what made Revis such an elite player, complimenting him on his understanding of the game and his ability to play all kinds of coverages. Shortly thereafter, though, Cromartie was singing a different tune after Revis went after him.

Revis responded on X to get after Cromartie about a game from their playing days.

Revis’ interactions on X have more and more Jets fans disgusted with him. He’s still an all-time Jets great, but it’s become embarrassing to claim him as a franchise elite.

Christopher Johnson rips team to fans

Owners are far from immune to frustration with a team, but they’re usually diplomatic about expressing it publicly. They never tell their stakeholders — the fans — how frustrated they are.

Christopher Johnson broke that mold when he told a group of fans in 2019, “Hopefully, the team will actually show up this week.”

Bruce Coslet

Bruce Coslet had many embarrassing moments as the Jets’ head coach. In 1990, he refused to come down to meet reporters, insisting on a conference call. When a New York Post reporter asked him why he was doing this, he claimed he didn’t have time to walk downstairs because he was working a short week after the Jets played on Monday Night Football.

Coslet also ripped quarterback Ken O’Brien to reporters off the record. “Look, you know my quarterback sucks, I know my quarterback sucks, everyone knows my quarterback sucks,” he said.

Sal Alosi trip

In December 2010, the Jets were trailing the Dolphins 10-3, and the Dolphins were punting from inside their own 20. Santonio Holmes returned the punt a few yards, but then the camera panned to injured Dolphins rookie Nolan Carroll on the sideline. On replay, it was evident that the Jets’ strength and conditioning coach, Sal Alosi, had stuck out his knee to trip Carroll as he ran by to cover the punt.

The Jets suspended Alosi without pay for the rest of the season, including the playoffs, and fined him an additional $25,000.

This is both bizarre and one of the dirtiest plays you’ll see in the NFL. Carroll could have been seriously injured. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin once got in the way of a returner near the sideline to prevent him from scoring, but he didn’t actively make contact. This was a deliberate attempt to trip a defenseless player.

SpyGate

NFL teams accuse each other of cheating from time to time, but the way SpyGate went down was particularly strange. Eric Mangini was a former Patriots defensive coordinator when he joined the Jets as head coach, and he knew what Bill Belichick had been up to. Therefore, in 2007, he turned in Belichick for videotaping the Jets’ defensive coaches’ signals from an unauthorized location during a Jets-Patriots game. The NFL fined Belichick $500,000, fined the Patriots $250,000, and docked the team their first-round draft pick.

The bizarre part of the incident had nothing to do with the Jets. Commissioner Roger Goodell ordered the Patriots to turn over all their notes and tapes related to taping opponents’ defensive signals. When the Patriots refused to let the tapes leave their facilities, Goodell ordered the tapes destroyed. The world never got to know the extent to which the Patriots may have been spying on opponents. Many allegations later came out claiming New England had been doing this since Belichick became their head coach in 2000, among other accusations.

Fake spike

Faking a spike is no longer an overly shocking play, as quarterbacks have attempted it from time to time. The first one, though, was the most famous and pivotal.

The 7-4 Dolphins were playing the 6-5 Jets in November 1994. With the Jets leading 24-21 and 38 seconds remaining with the clock running, Miami had the ball at the Jets’ eight-yard line and one timeout remaining. Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino yelled, “Clock! Clock!” Instead of spiking the ball, though, Marino took the snap and threw the ball to receiver Mark Ingram in the right corner of the end zone, giving Miami the 28-24 victory.

The Jets would not win a game for the rest of the season, finishing 6-10. Pete Carroll was fired after one season as head coach, setting into motion the Rich Kotite era, which remains the worst head coaching tenure in Jets’ history (4-28, .111).

Giving him the business

This is one of the funniest moments in NFL history, but also kind of bizarre. On October 5, 1986, the Jets played the Jim Kelly-led Bills. After Kelly released a pass, he and Marty Lyons got into a major scuffle, with Lyons on top of Kelly and punching him like all get-out.

Referee Ben Dreith was furious, accidentally calling the foul on No. 99 (Mark Gastineau) instead of No. 93 and saying, “After he tackled the quarterback, he’s giving him the business down there.” The call was complete with a demonstration of Lyons’ punching.

Jets unveil Tom Brady

This is not one moment so much as a moment that changed the course of history. Drew Bledsoe was a three-time Pro Bowler and had just signed a 10-year contract with the Patriots. However, when Mo Lewis hit Bledsoe and caused a life-threatening lung injury, a little-known sixth-round rookie named Tom Brady entered the game.

The fact that what seemed like such a devastating injury for the Patriots’ franchise turned into a pivotal turning point in their history is a bizarre turn of events that would happen only to the Jets.

Testaverde + Rodgers

In 1999, the year after the Jets went to the AFC Championship Game, the Jets had Super Bowl aspirations. They came to a halt in Week 1 when Vinny Testaverde tore his Achilles tendon.

Twenty-four years later, Testaverde tossed the coin to start Aaron Rodgers’ era in New York, once again with championship aspirations. Four offensive plays in, the same thing happened: Rodgers tore his Achilles, ending the Jets’ season before it started.

Quinnen Williams blesses himself

Quinnen Williams can be quite funny, and this moment is no exception — but it’s also kind of strange. As a new draftee, Williams was in the middle of an interview when he sneezed. Not only did he say “bless me,” but he followed it up with a “thank you.”

Dimitri Patterson MIA

During a Week 3 preseason contest in 2014, veteran cornerback Dimitri Patterson decided not to show up. Rex Ryan and John Idzik confirmed that they hadn’t communicated with Patterson and didn’t know where he was. The Jets suspended him following the incident. Patterson claimed to ESPN that he had not gone AWOL.

Mud Bowl

The Jets have lost several AFC Championship Games since their lone Super Bowl berth, but the first one was, in some ways, the most heartbreaking. The Jets had the faster team and the better passing offense entering the game, and Miami head coach Don Shula knew it. Therefore, he instructed the grounds crew at the Orange Bowl to leave the tarp off the field during a downpour, resulting in a muddy and hardly playable surface.

Jets quarterback Richard Todd suffered tremendously in the slog, throwing five interceptions, including three to Miami linebacker A.J. Duhe. The Jets lost 14-0.

Adam Gase’s introductory press conference

Rarely does a head coach garner so much hate before he’s even stood on the sidelines for a game. Jets fans were hardly optimistic when the team hired then-recently fired Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase to take over for Todd Bowles. Gase managed to turn Jets fans against him in his introductory press conference. The most bizarre moment, though, was when his eyes bulged unnaturally.

Gregg Williams’ blitz

In December 2020, the 0-11 Jets were leading the Raiders 28-24 with under 30 seconds remaining. Williams inexplicably called a Cover 0 blitz, meaning there was no safety help deep and all cornerbacks were locked up one-on-one. Speedster Henry Ruggs ran by Jets cornerback Lamar Jackson and caught an easy 46-yard touchdown from Derek Carr. Williams was fired that week.

The irony of the call was that it should have sealed the Jets’ tank for Trevor Lawrence (though unintentionally) — until they went on to beat the Los Angeles Rams two weeks later.

Jets draft Kyle Brady over Warren Sapp

Fans screaming at the draft are hardly a barometer of who a team should draft. Still, everyone thought the Jets were going to take defensive tackle Warren Sapp. Instead, the Jets took a blocking-first tight end, Kyle Brady, with the ninth pick in the 1995 draft.

The saving grace for the Jets is that they chose to forgo drafting Sapp due to drug concerns. Still, Sapp is a Hall of Famer, and no one remembers Kyle Brady except as the man the Jets drafted over Sapp. Oh, and the guy Robert Kraft later mixed up with Tom Brady.

Drafting Christian Hackenberg

When the Jets took Christian Hackenberg with the 51st overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, many inside the Jets’ organization were livid. Hackenberg was regarded as a highly developmental passer. He was ranked at No. 85 on the NFL Mock Draft consensus big board, and many analysts had him rated lower than that.

Hackenberg never played a down in the NFL. From 2000 to 2020, only 11 players out of 1,303 drafted in the first or second round never played a snap, making Hackenberg part of an ignominious group. But the choice to draft him in the first place was weird.

Muhammad Wilkerson’s birthday party

Former Jets defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson was an impact player before he got a major contract extension. Then, all his issues with laziness, tardiness, and lack of effort came to the forefront. Nowhere was this more evident than in November 2016 when Wilkerson missed a team walkthrough and a planned birthday party in the defensive meeting room.

Santonio Holmes’ benching

In the fourth quarter of the final game of the 2011 season, Santonio Holmes got into a spat with offensive tackle Wayne Hunter in the offensive huddle. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer benched him without informing Rex Ryan, who said that he thought Holmes had removed himself from the game. A disaster all around.

Adding insult to injury, Holmes was a team captain and had signed a five-year deal with the Jets the prior offseason.

Elijah Moore’s blow-up

Like Holmes, Elijah Moore is a diva wide receiver. Moore showed promise as a rookie second-round pick for the Jets but was rarely targeted through the first six weeks of the 2022 season. In the Jets’ Week 6 win over the Packers to improve to 4-2, Moore had zero targets.

Moore tweeted following the game, “If I say what I really wanna say…I’ll be the selfish guy…we winning. Grateful! Huge blessing! All I ever wanted. Butter [sic] sweet for me em [sic] but I’ll be solid. So I’ll just stay quiet. Just know I don’t understand either.”

Things came to a head during practice that week when Moore missed practice for a personal day. Moore had reportedly blown up at offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur during the previous practice, telling him to “F*** off.” Robert Saleh excused Moore from practice the next day, and Moore requested a trade.

The Jets refused to trade Moore but deactivated him for the Week 7 game against Denver. He returned to the lineup in Week 8 but never gained a significant role in the offense. He finished the season with 37 catches for 446 yards and one touchdown in 16 games (9 starts).

The Jets traded Moore to Cleveland in the 2023 offseason along with a third-round pick, getting back a second-rounder that they used to draft center Joe Tippmann.

Nick Lowery

Jets kicker Nick Lowery reportedly slapped a 20-year-old Patriots ball boy because he thought the boy was handing him cold footballs to kick on purpose.

Kelechi Osemele injury dispute

In 2019, Jets guard Kelechi Osemele claimed he had a torn labrum and needed surgery. The Jets’ position was that it was a preexisting condition and he could play through it, postponing surgery until the offseason. Osemele had the surgery outside the organization against the Jets’ wishes. In response, the Jets fined him $579,000 per week, the maximum allowed under the CBA. The Jets released him shortly thereafter.

Bubby Brister shovel pass

On October 8, 1995, the Jets were leading the winless expansion Panthers, 12-6, in the second quarter. They had the ball at their own 40-yard line. Quarterback Bubby Brister dropped back and flipped a shovel pass right into the arms of linebacker Sam Mills, who returned it for a touchdown. This led to the Panthers’ first-ever win as a franchise. It was a standard Rich Kotite moment.

Jets fans, did I miss any bizarre moments in the team’s history?

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Jets71
Jets71
3 days ago

Robby is right about the “Butt Fumble” listen to the broadcast, Collinsworth even states Vince Wilfork pushed Moore into Sanchez, and he’d never seen anything like it. When Two Yard Fraud Tom Brady did the same thing at home vs. KC nothing it wasn’t even replayed, nor was anything said when he was scrambling and just dropped the ball for a turnover vs. Baltimore.

It’s ridiculous…and Cimini is the worst with it, as if we need to hear about every year.

You covered a lot, how about Walt Michaels getting drunk on the plane back from Miami, or Bill Parcels resigning to make BB the HC before he resigned.

Scott Bieber
Scott Bieber
3 days ago

Great list! Here’s a few more that crossed my mind –

UDFA Vance Joseph pressed into covering Tim Brown on national tv during the Kotite era

Trading up to select Lam Jones, passing on Anthony Munoz

Jets lose out on playoff spot in last game of 1997 season, throwing 3 interceptions including 1 each from RB Leon Johnson and backup QB Ray Lucas

Jets lose out on playoff spot in last game of 2000 season despite gaining over 500 yards against legendary Ravens defense, committing 6 turnovers.

QB Matt Robinson hides thumb injury from coaching staff, gets benched for 1979 season

Fans remove seats from Shea Stadium in final Jet home game, a blowout loss to Steelers

Mark Gastineau…a lot to choose from, but I’ll go with the brawl against the Rams in 1983, and the entire Brigitte Nielson episode

(Before my time) the Lou Holtz fight song

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