New York Jets New York Jets

For your consideration: The Curse of the Guarantee

To be honest, the list of true honest-to-Lombardi franchise highlights numbers one. Admittedly, Joe Namath’s “guaranteed” Jets victory in Super Bowl III over the Baltimore Colts is certainly one of the most significant wins in professional football history, but one wonders how many Jets fans (like any under 50 years old) might have traded the single title for a bit more success.

The American Football League introduced a New York team to compete with the NFL and the Giants in football’s biggest market. For the first three seasons, the team was known as the Titans and until the Super Bowl win, as a bastion of mediocrity: In eight years, the team managed a single winning season.

And then Super Bowl III, followed by a 10-4 season and a divisional-round loss, followed by 11 seasons of .500 and under. From time to time, the team has squeaked into the playoffs since 1981 and has gone 9-11 in playoff games, but these oases of okay play are surprisingly isolated in time. No. 6 overall draft pick Richard Todd was handed the keys to the offense after they were snatched out of Namath’s hands in 1977, but it was Joe Klecko, Mark Gastineau and the Jets defense that should get the lion’s share of credit for the playoff runs of 1981 and ’82.

These defenses continued on through to the late 1980s, as ’83 draftee Ken O’Brien took the helm. For the later part of O’Brien’s career, however, and much of the 90s thereafter, times were lean for the Jets, thanks to the repeated comically bad choices at NFL drafts. And then, finally (or so they thought) … Bill Parcells, a guy who’d already taken one Lombardi with the Giants and been to another with the New England Patriots, was hired as head coach to finally make the Jets champions again. Only, the usual happened between Parcells and authority and after one AFC championship game appearance sandwiched by two sub-.500 seasons, Parcells was gone.

In the middle of his three-season run with the team, head coach Bill Parcells got the Jets into the AFC championship after 1998, and Rex Ryan got them to back-to-back appearances in the final game after 2009 and ’10. But Parcells once again left in a huff, while Ryan lingered on the sidelines through The Butt Fumble and bottom-five offenses.

The 20s may prove fruitful for the Jets after all. Given the Incompetence of division mates in Buffalo and Miami in tandem with a pretty decent defense, and things have got to be looking up even heading into 2018. Still, those believing in sports curses have got to be wondering just how much of this franchise’s future Joe Namath actually staked on the only guarantee that has ever worked in professional football…

For the official New York Jets website, click here.