The New York Jets are a poverty franchise. They haven’t been to the playoffs since 2010. I don’t care what the outlook for the team is, until they win a playoff game, my stance on the matter isn’t changing. There’s reason to be optimistic given Robert Saleh’s solid start as head coach, Breece Hall’s limited time in games, Garrett Wilson’s flashes of talent, and Sauce Gardner’s... everything, but let’s be real, no playoff appearances, no business being talked about in a positive manner.
That’s why I always found it weird when Jets fans claimed the NFL media was against them. Not just the reporters and analysts either, the broadcasters as well. To me, the claim that NFL announcers were unfairly negative about the Jets was absurd. I spent some time as a play-by-play man, and one of the first lessons I was taught was, “unless you’re being paid by one of the teams playing, throw all bias aside.” To me, the claim that broadcasters only spoke negatively about the Jets was a fairytale, a myth, a coping method for sad New York fans who are two five-win seasons away from breaking out the paper bags.
Apparently, I was wrong.
After years of claiming the Joe Bucks and Troy Aikmans of the world had it out for them, Gang Green finally has some data to back up that claim.
Earlier this week, Betting.com released an article detailing the bias every team faces in the booth whether positive or negative. Lo and behold, the team at the bottom... the New York Jets.
The article doesn’t go into how or what exactly they determined to be negative comments, but they claim they went through over 250,000 NFL plays spanning 50 years of NFL football to come to these conclusions. Supposedly, 32.36 percent — nearly a third — of all comments made about the Jets were negative, almost half a percentage point more than the next most-negatively-regarded team, the Minnesota Vikings (31.94 percent).
So, why are the Jets talked about in such low regard? Sure, they haven’t had much success recently — having not won, let alone been in, a Super Bowl since Super Bowl III — and are nearly 100 games under .500 for the entirety of their existence, but they haven’t done as poorly over the last 50 years as the Detroit Lions. In that span, the Lions have the worst record of any team at 309-467-5 (.399). The Jets are 335-444-2 (.430). That’s better than the Cleveland Browns — 295-434-4 (.405) — and, according to the study, the Browns were talked about positively in 71.67 percent of broadcaster comments — the second-highest rate in the NFL, New Orleans Saints (72.01 percent). So, what about the Jets makes broadcasters turn so sour?
For one, it has to do with the market. The Jets play in New York (technically New Jersey, but let’s not complicate things)! They are a team that should attract loads of talent. They are a team that, when they play, people watch and take notice. A poor showing in New York is going to be viewed by far more people and thus, the perception of the Jets will decline far faster than the perception of say the Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns, or Arizona Cardinals. Sure, the smallest NFL market today is the Green Bay Packers, but they’re an outlier. They have a super passionate market that crosses borders and a deep history of success. They’ve been quarterbacked by future Hall of Famers for 30 straight years. I wouldn’t count them as part of my point.
That sort of plays into my next point. They have never been embarrassingly bad for a long time. The longest stretch the Jets have had without a season at .500 or better in the last 50 years is the one they’re currently on — six seasons (2016-2021). Other than that, their longest streak is just three, which has happened multiple times since 1972. The Lions, on the other hand, have had a streak of 10 such seasons (2001-2010) and a separate streak of 7 seasons (1984-1990) in the last 50 years. The Browns had an 11-season streak (2008-2018). It’s natural for people to start taking pity on the less fortunate, and the Browns and Lions have been two of the least fortunate franchises in the NFL. You like to root for an underdog, and frankly, even with Tom Brady in their division for most of the last two decades, they never really felt like one. Perhaps market size plays a role in that as well.
In essence, broadcasters pick on the Jets because they’ve been bad in the national spotlight without being so bad you feel bad for them. They’re literally the NFL’s punching bag, the kid everyone at school picks on because they know he can take it. When you put it like that, you have to tip your cap to the team’s fans. They’ve put up with so much slander, disdain for their favorite team, and put-downs but they haven’t quit. The loyal Jets fans have stayed and continue repping Green Gang proudly. That takes a lot of guts, and I for one, will never speak poorly about the Jets again...or at least until I forget about this, which could be in four days. I don’t know.
Also, don’t come at me if I keep making fun of Zach Wilson. He deserves it, right? I’ll steer clear of Mike White though. He’s off-limits.