I hate to admit this, but for much of my life, I was embarrassed by the Jets.
Sometime in the early-to-mid-1990s I got a great Apex One Jets jacket. Warm for the winter, looked great.
I bet I got it after the 1991 playoff appearance.
I was at a self-conscious age. When that jacket was in its best condition the Jets won 4 games, 8 games, 6 games, then 3 games, then 1 game.
I wore it...but I was really embarrassed.
Now, living in New England, in the years when the Patriots have done nothing but win, I've thought twice before wearing anything with "Jets" written on it. I've still done it once in a while, but in such a way that you might think I was a fair-weather fan.
I'd time it so that the flak I would receive would be at a low point. Maybe after a (rare) Jets win over the Patriots. Maybe for the one week of the season where the Jets were a game ahead of New England. It got to the point where it was hard work figuring out when to let the world know I was a Jets fan....and it was easier to just keep it to myself.
Lately, though, I've been more brave. I feel like I have a comeback for anyone who has something to say about the Jets...and my Jets shirts.
But I also feel like there's still an accompanying embarrassment with the Jets. Let's take Braylon Edwards, for example.
On the field, Edwards is having a spectacular season. He has been huge. The Jets didn't go to him often enough in Baltimore, and when they did, he helped the Jets get the ball down the field late. Against New England, he had a big touchdown and a big two-point conversion. And against Miami, the first time he touched the ball he turned it into a 67-yard touchdown.
We haven't seen a hint of Edwards' signature play this year - the dropped pass. But he's dropped the ball in other ways.
There's the DUI. There's the fact that even with that 67-yard touchdown, when Edwards would have won some points back by acting just a little bit humble, he found it necessary to dance and showboat. He taunted on his touchdown and the 2-point conversion against New England.
His antics have only been the most visible of a team that has found itself gaining notoriety for all the wrong reasons. There were the antics with a female reporter. As much as I love Rex Ryan, he's more of an X's and O's guy rather than the best man suited to handle these types of situations.
Taken together, it's all kind of embarrassing. But if the 2010 Jets win it all, they won't be remembered for their off-field embarrassments.
Handling the embarrassment does get a little easier when the team is a winning team.