Tom Brady’s preference of footballs, the New England Patriots’ oft-criticized coach (who happened to spend one day as coach of the NY Jets), a Seattle Seahawks running back who’s allergic to the media, another ex-Jets coach at the helm of a Super Bowl squad and the last Hofstra University player to make the NFL are just some of the headlines we’ll be interested in come kickoff Sunday.
New York may not have a dog in this fight, but there are story lines aplenty worth following this Super Bowl, especially if you’re a Jets fans.
Let’s start with those tortured Gang Green fans, a devoted group that hasn’t seen their favorite team raise the Lombardi Trophy in 46 years. The Giants have won four since then and the hated Patriots could equal that mark with a win over the Seahawks. And, if the Pats do halt Seattle’s quest for a repeat, they’ll do so with one of the Jets’ all-time great players on their roster: Darrelle Revis.
Not only are Jets fans still reeling from a disastrous 4-12 season that prompted the firing of coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik, but they may also have to witness another Pats Super Bowl victory celebration, replete with Bill Belichick—and his hoodie—soaked in Gatorade and confetti and whatever magic potion he conjures up to put his New England team in contention year after year.
Belichick famously resigned as Jets head coach on the very day the organization was about to announce his hiring. Even more shocking was the way he quit, penning a note on a napkin with the words that he had resigned “as HC of NYJ.” By comparison, he’s spent 15 years with the Patriots, winning three Super Bowls and advancing to the title game six times, racking up 174 regular season wins along the way. During that same period, the Jets have had only eight winning seasons and zero Super Bowl appearances, despite blistery proclamations from the team’s former blowhard coach.
Here’s a taste of what Belichick’s introductory press conference-turned-resignation statement sounded like:
Then there’s Pete Carroll, who was fired after just one season with the Jets, in which the team went 6-10. Carroll is seeking back-to-back Super Bowl titles, a feat not accomplished since the Patriots won consecutive titles in 2003 and 2004. Carroll was a successful college coach before the Seahawks offered him a chance to rewrite his NFL career.
Win or lose, Carroll has cemented his place alongside Belichick atop the hierarchy of great NFL coaches. What else do Sunday’s coaching rivals share? Remarkable success since leaving the Jets.
The biggest scandal this country has probably seen since Watergate has dominated the headlines the last week, and that’s the discovery that the Patriots played the first half of the AFC Championship Game against the hapless Indianapolis Colts with 11 of 12 balls that were deflated—a headline writer’s dream (just ask the New York Daily News). Apparently, deflated balls are easier to throw in crummy weather conditions just like those in Foxborough on Jan. 18. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is nonetheless against the rules to leak air out of the balls, which are inspected by referees before the game. So, if the Patriots are found to have intentionally deflated footballs, then it’s only fair to label them cheaters. Again.
Football air pressure should have no bearing on the Super Bowl, since the NFL provides all of the pigskins for the big game. Whatever the NFL’s investigation uncovers, at least we got to hear Tom Brady talk in great length about how he likes to handle his balls.
Tom Brady on DeflateGate: "I didn't alter the ball in any way." http://t.co/h6sgDBk464 pic.twitter.com/ERHnuKRmBC
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) January 23, 2015
Back to the Jets. Darrelle Revis, who now calls New England home, was perhaps the best defensive player in the league during his time with the Jets as the sole proprietor of “Revis Island” until he tore his ACL. But the well-compensated All-Pro cornerback and the organization always seemed to be in a contract dispute. After six years with Gang Green, Revis was traded to Tampa Bay, where he spent one season before joining the Patriots and getting his wish to play in the ultimate NFL game. Just another reason for Jets fans to scrap Super Bowl plans and hide under a blanket with a bottle of scotch.
Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington is the last member of Hofstra’s now-defunct college football program to make the NFL. Arrington went un-drafted in 2009 but was later picked up by the Patriots. The Maryland native often bemoans not having a college team to boast about when his fellow teammates celebrate their respective alma maters’ accomplishments.
Long Islanders may not have a team—or a Long Islander—to root for, but Arrington’s story of hard work and determination despite the odds is one that we can all appreciate—even if he is a Patriot.
There may not be a more interesting character in the NFL than Marshawn Lynch, he of the media allergy. Lynch is an old-school running back who seems to get stronger with each and every hit. He may be the hardest back to take down in the game today, and is embarking on a Hall of Fame career.
But it’s hard for fans outside Seattle to appreciate him because he refuses to speak with the media. And when he does, he offers pre-determined, one-line responses, like he did at Media Day. Here’s to hoping the Seahawks win so that poor on-field reporter can shove a microphone right in Lynch’s face after a Seattle victory. Word!