I had an argument with a good friend this week. It was trivial and stupid but it got me thinking. Here’s the back story. I have been a New York Jet fan my whole life. I am a Jet season ticket holder and have given legal advice to two players in recent years. My entire mood changes during football season and my outlook each week is significantly impacted by the team’s performance that Sunday. Simply stated, I love the Jets. The problem, of course, is that this weekend, I am rooting for the Giants. Not only because they face the hated Patriots, but because I genuinely want them to win. In fact, throughout the season, if a Giant game has no impact on the Jets’ standing, I root for the Giants as well.
I cheated on the Jets this season. It was only once, and it was a professional courtesy. I went to a Giants game with clients and sat up front. It was surreal. I kept looking around to make sure no one would recognize me. I tucked my blue hat low over my forehead and tried to get lost in the crowd. It didn’t help; my paranoia got the best of me. Later, I would wallow in guilt over my dis-loyalty. I woke up in the middle of a restless night consumed with self-loathing. How could I ever look at my Jets the same way? They’d know. No matter what. It was in their own house!
But, I confess, I loved it. I had a great time. It felt good to have a change of scenery. For three hours, I was free of the constant disappointment that defines the life of a Jet fan. The team loves me, but has taken me for granted for too long. My happiness has been relegated to a by-product of their own narcissism and ego. And, if I stopped ignoring all the clues, I would face the shameful reality that the Jets are most likely cheating on me. Pandering to the hip young fans. Trying to fill the stadium with bodies, regardless of commitment. The Jets are hanging out with Kim Kardashian or the hot local waitress, while I am at home wondering why I feel disrespected. So, I flip the channel. And there they are – – in big bold blue. The New York Giants. Older. More mature. Brash. Successful. And, they seem to call out to me.
Each season, I fight the temptation. Publically, I trash the Giants, their crotchety head coach, abusive fans, and their arrogant strut. Until last week. When I decided to be more honest. I told my friends that I’d be rooting for the Giants and the arguments quickly escalated. We reached a quiet truce when they conceded that, solely because of the Patriots, they, too, are rooting for the Giants. But, apparently, they do so with a pure heart and a clean conscience. I remain conflicted because, while I know where my heart lies, I cannot help but wonder if I would be happier as a Giant fan.
I will never leave the Jets or Section 104. I am committed to a long-term relationship and will never waver. But, once the guilt faded, I came to terms with the reality that I enjoyed going to the Giants game and, chances are, I’ll be back again for a game next season. I’m weak. But happy.
An old friend and neighbor, Matthew Hiltzik, posted an insightful and entertaining piece on Tabletmag.com (link: http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/90033/nyets/) in which he does a far better job than I expressing the frustration of being in a relationship with a mediocre team that constantly lets us down. They don’t suck; I wish they sucked. Instead, they amaze and confound, and sneak into the verge of contention only to break your heart at the last minute. You love them and love being with them. But, the consistent disappointment is slowly and quietly driving you away. Maybe not physically, but emotionally. It tests your loyalty. But, when the dust settles, you aren’t going anywhere. Because, they are the same old Jets. And you love them.
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