A few days ago I posted something about what a New York Jets win against the Chargers would mean to me and then hoped for the best. As luck would have it, Sunday wound up being a special day at our house: the Jets beat the Chargers and more importantly, my friends both near and far (and some people I have not been lucky enough to meet yet) rallied around the cause and cheered the Jets on with me. I’ll share my feelings on all of this in a minute but first let’s talk about what to wear when watching a game.
In my closet you’ll find a dozen articles of Jets branded clothing, all gifts from my father and father-in-law. For good luck and because they were gifts from people I care about, I like to wear something Jets related while watching the game. Prior to the game starting on Sunday I was wearing a Jets tee-shirt with a warm-up jersey over it (I couldn’t decide which to wear so I wore both). I pulled three replica jerseys out of the closet, one for me and the other two just in case anyone else in the house wanted to wear one; that was the plan at least.
Midway through the third quarter, feeling that the two shirts I had on were not lucky enough, I put a jersey over the shirt and jersey I already had on. A few minutes later, with the Jets about to score in the fourth quarter, I put yet another on. Twelve minutes to play and I’m wearing 4 shirts, it’s ridiculous but the Jets are winning.
After an interception by the Jets deep in Chargers territory, I reached for the last jersey. Those of you who follow the Jets might recognize it as a replica of the #10 worn by Chad Pennington in the 2002 season, it was also given to me by my father. Just after New Year’s Day 2003, I flew home to New York just in time to see the Jets play the Colts in a Wild Card playoff game. My dad was waiting curbside at JFK with the jersey and I had to put it on before he allowed me in the car. We arrived home in time for the kickoff of the 41-0 Jets win. Ever since that day it has been the go-to good luck charm, it’s silly but so is rooting for a team full of strangers.
With seven minutes to go in the game the Jets are ahead by ten points and I’m wearing five shirts. By the time the Chargers scored with 2:14 to go I had to shed the top three jerseys because I was afraid I was going to pass out from the heat. Luckily the Jets held on or I would have blamed myself; it might have helped that my wife put one of them on too.
Superstitious clothing talk aside, the Jets beat the Chargers yesterday and this makes me happy. My desire to keep the Jets season going stems from the fact that the beginning of the season was the last thing my dad and I shared before he passed away suddenly in October. In my mind this season has been the last living connection I have to him. It’s a made-up connection but it’s the last one I’ve got.
Midway through writing the post where I talked about what the Jets-Chargers game meant to me, I put down my Macbook and said to my wife “when the season is over I’ll feel like he’s really gone” and cried. When I finished the post I asked for one more win, so I’d have one more week to feel connected to my dad. Now that I have that, I’m going to enjoy it but I’m not asking for anything else.
Sure, I hope the Jets win and then win the Superbowl but if they fall short it doesn’t change anything. A Jets championship might mean something to me and to other fans but it doesn’t really mean anything. My father isn’t coming back and I’m going to have to let go of this imaginary connection I have to him sooner or later.
When the time comes I will let go and continue living as well as I can. Maybe the Jets make it to the Superbowl and maybe they don’t but no matter what happens I’ve already have everything I need. I had 35 years to spend with my father and I have friends and family who will help me to keep his memory alive. I’d like to thank every one of you for your support.
When the Jets play the Colts on Sunday I’m going to cheer the Jets on and hope for the best, I hope you’ll cheer along with me but no matter what happens, we are all going to keep on living. Now that we are all clear on that: Lets Go Jets!