The Zionist Conspiracy
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
The Day I Became A Jets Fan
Following is the fifth worst loss in Jets history:
Jets lose to Buffalo Bills 31-27 on December 27, 1981.
On this day, I became a Jets fan.
Please don't misunderstand. By then, three weeks before my ninth birthday, I already was an avid - okay, an obsessive - fan of the New York Jets. I had gone with my father to two Jets games in the 1981 season, the second of which was on a schoolday, with my father coming to pick me up at school and brazenly telling the rabbi that he was taking me to a football game.
On December 27, 1981, the Jets hosted the Buffalo Bills in their first playoff game during my lifetime. The first game I went to that season was against the Bills. The Jets won 33-14.
In my parents' living room, there is a family portrait. The time on my brother's digital watch says 11:58.
The picture was taken in a studio around eight blocks from my house, on none other than December 27, 1981.
Game time was noon.
I remember my brother assuring me that I wouldn't miss a thing, that since it was a playoff game, there would be player introductions before the game that would delay kickoff.
I ran home as fast as I could.
I arrived home at 12:03. It was 7-0 Bills.
Bruce Harper had fumbled the opening kickoff, and the Bills returned it for a touchdown. Later in the 1st quarter, Wesley Walker was wide open but dropped a sure TD pass. Early in the 2nd quarter, Mark Gastineau sacked Joe Ferguson, but instead of falling on the ball, kicked it around again and again, with the Bills recovering after a loss of something like 35 yards. Before long, it was 24-0 Bills in the second quarter.
The Jets got to within 24-13, but a 4th quarter Bills touchdown made it 31-13 with ten minutes left. I understood that the Jets would fall short.
Over the next half-hour, I would learn that nothing is so simple and painless when it comes to the New York Jets.
Led by QB Richard Todd, the Jets mounted a furious comeback. First, Todd completed a touchdown pass to Bobby Jones. The Jets stopped Buffalo in three plays, and the Jets scored another touchdown with a little more than 3 minutes to go. And then the defense again stopped Buffalo in three plays. The Jets had the ball at their own 20 yard line with 2 1/2 minutes left to play.
They drove right down the field. A 29 yard pass to Mickey Shuler. On 3rd and 20, Todd completed a 26 yard pass to Derrick Gaffney.
But then on 3rd and 15, Todd was intercepted. The game was over.
But a holding penalty was called, giving the Jets an automatic first down! The Jets had first down at the Bills 11. The Shea Stadium scoreboard displayed, in huge capital letters: "WE CAN DO IT!"
Todd passed to Derrick Gaffney, who looked to be open right at the end zone. Seemingly out of nowhere, Bill Simpson intercepted the pass at the 1 yard line.
There had to be another penalty. The Jets couldn't lose. The game couldn't be over.
It was. For the first time in my life, on December 27, 1981, I experienced the pain of being a fan of the New York Jets.
Coming up: The four worst losses in New York Jets history.