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The rivalry between the New York Jets and New England Patriots has gained intensity in recent years. Perhaps it was the dramatic departure of Eric Mangini that triggered the feud, or the spiced up media frenzy upon Rex Ryan’s arrival in New York.
The players on the field have brought their own drama to the rivalry, from Tom Brady’s superstar lifestyle and legacy to Mark Sanchez’s hype and overall success in the NFL since leaving USC. From the New England perspective it seems like there are so many little parts of the Jets that make Pats fans hate the team, like Revis Island, Fireman Ed, and the city of New York in general as a rival sports town.
I respect the Jets as a successful football team, and acknowledge them as a better team than New England this season, but the drama of the way the team operates under Rex Ryan creates a desire to see them get roughed up every Sunday.
Over the last few seasons, the Jets have amassed a great deal of talent on the field in the development of a core moving towards long term success. With this talent though comes large personalities whose presence can be more irritating on the field than anything.
The most obvious example was Brett Favre, who spent the 2008 season in New York. At the time Favre was at the climax of his on-again-off-again retirement period, which ended at that time with his season with the Jets where he experienced more off the field drama with reports of him having sexting a Jets sideline reporter.
In 2010, former star Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson signed a two-year deal to join the Jets. Tomlinson is an ironically disliked player by New England after the Patriots defeated San Diego in the playoffs in 2007.
In reaction to the Patriots celebrating their victory at midfield over his team’s logo, Tomlinson said that New England “showed no class and maybe that comes from the head coach.”
His direct criticism of the Patriots and Bill Belichick instantly created tension for Patriots fans, whose disapproval of his ‘sore loser’ attitude showed. His arrival to New York as a member of the Jets furthered the tension between Tomlinson and New England.
As a player originally drafted by the Jets, Darrelle Revis holds a generally different judgment from Patriots fans. An early success, Revis quickly became one of the best cornerbacks in the game, earning high praise from most of the league.
However, still a member of the Jets he receives the same type of disapproval from New England. As an undeniably great talent, perhaps one of the reasons Revis is hated is his position, effectively defending Tom Brady.
While the players on any roster are sure to include some drama queens, dignity can usually at least exist at the head coaching position. Unfortunately it seems the Jets have no redeeming qualities these days.
Rex Ryan perhaps has the largest ego of anyone in the entire New York organization.
Many times the battle lines for a divisional game between the two squads are intensified after a press conference where Ryan avoids the Belichick approach to answering questions to an extreme. His tremendous arrogance toward the game is annoying, but at the same time his success is undeniable, making it to the AFC Championship game in each of the last two years.
Overall, I believe that there are many components to the bad taste in New England towards the Jets.
The one factor in all of the drama over the last few years that probably has the biggest impact on the rivalry is the success of the Jets as a football team. The dominance of the Patriots is likely coming to a close as Tom Brady gets older, and the competition within the AFC East continues to grow at the same time with the Jets at the head of the pact.
Their potential rise to the top of the NFL scares New England more than anything, making us hate the Jets with a passion.