The most anticipated football season in New York City history is already ending an ignominious streak: for the first time since Thanksgiving week 2012, both teams are in prime time.
If this date means anything to you, it probably does. The Jets, facing the Patriots at home on Thanksgiving after an overtime loss to New England earlier in the season, suffered a humiliating 49-19 loss that became instantly famous – or infamous – when Mark Sanchez met the player offensive lineman Brandon Moore and fumbled, with Steve Gregory returning the ball for a New England touchdown.
The Buttfumble was born, and the next ten seasons of New York football misery reached their inaugural climax.
The loss dropped the Jets – who sadly missed the playoffs in 2011 after losing three straight games at the end of the season to finish 8-8 – to 4-7 and marked the beginning of the end of the Rex Ryan era. With the exception of a 10-6 2015 season marked by a narrow playoff loss, the Jets haven’t had a winning season since.
Three days later at MetLife Stadium, the Giants would beat the Packers 38-10. The defending Super Bowl champions were 7-4, on course for another playoff berth.
A week later, Pierre Garcon’s fourth-quarter touchdown would hand them a Monday night loss in Washington — one of three losses the Giants would suffer in their final five games to finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs.
They would play just three playoff games over the next decade, with last season’s win at Minnesota being the only triumph.
While New York suffered from 10 coaches, Odell Beckham Jr.’s boat party, Eli Manning’s bench, Dave Gettleman’s misplaced arrogance, Sam Darnold’s mononucleosis, the Patriots possessing the AFC East and so many different quarterbacks from the Jets, it slowly but surely became virtually irrelevant to the national image of the NFL.
Almost every other city has had its turn in the spotlight since 2012, including three that no longer have NFL teams (though not for reasons that would make St. Louis residents particularly excited).
As for New York, even the Super Bowl held in East Rutherford was one of the least memorable of the 21st century and did not provide much publicity for cold weather outdoor stadiums to host such events.
But now it’s our turn again.
MetLife Stadium will host arguably the two biggest games of Week 1. It will host two of the league’s most compelling teams and could host only its second playoff game, not including Super Bowl XLVIII. It could also host its third, fourth and fifth playoff games.
All possibilities are on the table.
Yes, there is also every chance that it will collapse. The Jets have been down this road before and it hasn’t gone down well with Brett Favre. The Giants’ record last season was bolstered by a great record in close games, and those might as well go the other way this time around.
But Aaron Rodgers’ heart seems to be in it, and he looks completely genuine. Brian Daboll’s changes to 1925 Giants Drive should also have a lasting effect and the roster looks much better than this time last year.
Both teams will be tested immediately from the get-go – the Giants against a Cowboys team that beat them twice last season, the Jets against Josh Allen and Bills, who replaced New England as the standard-bearers of the ‘AFC East.
They will be on Sunday and “Monday Night Football”. At MetLife Stadium. The eyes of the football world are on them.
Today’s last page
⚾ Jasson Dominguez’s big night helps Yankees beat Tigers and keep playoff hopes alive
⚾ SHERMAN: Yankees’ success in 2024 could still depend on a disturbing trio
⚾ Mets spoil Jose Butto’s strong outing in loss to Nationals… Five reasons the Mets are still watchable
🏈 SERBY: The 50 most fascinating people in the NFL for the 2023 season
A KC dynasty?
To those who were ready to declare the Chiefs a dynasty after a second Super Bowl win in four years last February, slow your pace.
As it stands, the Chiefs are the best team of the past five years, but that doesn’t make them any more of a dynasty than the Atlanta Braves from 1991-95, the Minnesota Twins from 1987-91, or the 1991 Football Giants. 86-91. Two titles in four years do not make a dynasty.
Is this a high bar? Of course, this is what such a designation requires.
A third Super Bowl for Patrick Mahomes, with the Chiefs having reached the conference title game or better every year since 2018, would put them on par with New England’s second trio of titles from 2014 to 2018. That seems like a proper bar for when to start talking about the term.
And even after Travis Kelce suffered a bone contusion that cast doubt on his season opener status, it seems like a distinct possibility for Kansas City. With Mahomes and Andy Reid at the helm and the core of the team that won the Super Bowl just seven months ago largely intact, there’s not much reason to think they won’t be. Of the game.
Thursday night’s opener against the Lions – a promising team with expectations that dare to dream – should be a good indicator for both clubs.
Shelton’s next step will be the toughest
Ben Shelton’s performance in a four-set victory over Frances Tiafoe on Tuesday night to reach the US Open semi-finals is, in itself, a massive feat for the 20-year-old.
Ranked 47th in the world, Shelton has established himself as a household name and is part of a generation of American men’s tennis that looks promising so far, with Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul and Christopher Eubanks all bringing varying degrees of… ‘hope. .
On an individual level, Shelton can and should consider this tournament a major success, no matter what happens against Novak Djokovic on Friday.
As for naming him as the next big hope to end a major 20-year drought for American men if Shelton doesn’t pull off two huge upsets in a row to win this US Open, let’s wait for him.
At this point, we’ve seen enough false aurora to get carried away.
The United States have produced top-10 players since Roddick won 20 years ago. Both John Isner and Mardy Fish have been top players for decent stretches. Sam Querrey once upon a time reached the 2017 Wimbledon final beating Andy Murray. Roddick, Andre Agassi and Robby Ginepri made up three of the final four at the US Open in 2005. Tiafoe was there last year.
(Meanwhile, Madison Keys again made two Americans in the semifinals, joining Coco Gauff on Thursday night’s card.)
The past two decades are littered with moments when American men scratched the surface of excellence and then fell to earth.
That hardly makes him an exception in a landscape where four people – almost five if Carlos Alcaraz realizes his infinite potential – have dominated the sport pretty much since Roddick won his only major tournament.
If Shelton wants to be the one, well, it’s pretty simple: beat Djokovic.