Pro football in New York reaches historic low


Considering all the lousy years of football in New York, this may be the worst season yet.

On Sunday, the Giants (2-7) meet the Jets (1-7) for  bragging rights…if that’s what you want to call it. Not much to brag about for either team.

Since the Giants and Jets first met in 1970, their worst combined record occurred in 1976, when each team finished 3-11. Joe Namath led the Jets, and Craig Morton quarterbacked the Giants that year.

In 1973, the Giants were 2-11-1 and the Jets 4-10. In 1980, each club finished 4-12, two years after the NFL went to the current 16-game schedule.

The past two seasons have been a calamity for both teams. The Giants wound up 3-13 and the Jets 5-11 in 2017; last year, Big Blue went 5-11 and the Jets 4-12. Phew!!

The worst single season head-to-head matchup occurred in 1974, when the Jets won 26-20 in overtime (both teams were 2-7 following the game). Namath, pictured above, scored on a fourth quarter rollout to tie the game in the Yale Bowl before Emerson Boozer ran it in from five yards out in overtime.

In 1996, the teams entered winless at 0-3 and the Giants won 13-6. The Jets and Giants were bad then, and they’re worse now. Time to bring out the paper bags.

It just happened–for the first time in history: Giants, Jets, Knicks, Rangers won on same day

IMG_0104December 11, 2016 was a landmark day in New York sports history. On that Sunday, the Giants, Jets, Knicks and Rangers all won.

Big deal you say? Well….yes. As a matter of fact, 12/11/16 marked the first and only time all four of those NY teams won on the same day. And that goes back to 1960, the year the Jets took off….as the New York Titans.

Think about that for a minute. 57 seasons of competition. Five Super Bowl championships, two NBA titles and a Stanley Cup. And yet, not once did the Giants, Jets, Knicks and Rangers ever win on the same day. Until December 11.

Oh sure, there were hundreds of instances when the four didn’t play on the same day. The Jets on a Sunday, the Giants on a Monday for instance. Strikes by the NFL, NBA and NHL also came into play several times.

In the entire decade of the 70s (from 1971-80), the Giants and the Jets managed to win on the same day just three times. That’s some lousy football.

On four separate occasions – in 2014, 1988, 1968 and 1962 – the Giants, Jets and Rangers all won on the same day. But the Knicks lost. In 2010 both football teams won along with the Knicks, but the Rangers lost.

Four others times, in 1986, 1971, 1968 and 1962, the football teams both won but the Knicks lost to the Lakers. In each case, the Rangers were idle.

Finally, on Dec. 11 it all clicked. That day the Jets rallied to beat the 49ers 23-17 in overtime on a 19-yard touchdown run by Bilal Powell. On Sunday night, the Giants defeated the Cowboys 10-7 as Odell Beckham caught a 61-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning for the game winner. The Rangers, playing at Madison Square Garden that night, routed the Devils 5-0. behind the shutout goaltending of Antti Raanta. And later that night, on the West Coast, the Knicks beat the Lakers 122-118 as Kristaps Porzingis scored 26 points and Derrick Rose added 25.

Hey Boston, Here’s Your Worst Nightmare. Meet The Jets!

Move over Bucky Dent, Aaron Boone and David Tyree. You’ve got company. Meet the Jets!

Jets Flashback: Broadway Joe and the Deli Guy

Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez is evoking memories of Joe Namath.

On a cold Sunday morning more than 40 years ago, a teenager went to the local deli in suburban New York to pick up the Sunday papers and a dozen rolls.

Taped to the class counter in the deli was a paper bag, with these words:

Jets 17, Colts 7.

Of course, we all know the ending, how Broadway Joe Namath and the Miracle Jets shocked the world and the Baltimore Colts, winning Super Bowl III 16-7 and giving the American Football League the stamp of legitimacy.

Sure the deli guy was off by a point, but you have to admit it took guts to predict an 18-point underdog would not only cover the spread but win outright.

Now, more than two score years later, after beating the San Diego Chargers 17-14, the Jets are in position to finally win another Super Bowl.

The Jets haven’t been this close since losing to the Broncos 23-10 in the wind of Denver in 1999 and the Dolphins 14-0 in the mud and rain of Miami in 1983.

Now the Jets travel to Indianapolis Sunday to try and defeat the same Colts they beat in Super Bowl III…and return to the promised land.

Pete Carroll, the Jets, the Dead and USC

Things have worked out just fine for Pete Carroll at USC.

Nearly 15 years ago, I settled into a window seat on an American Airlines flight from JFK to San Francisco, one of a seemingly endless chain of business trips from New York to Silicon Valley.

I opened up my Sunday New York Times (which always makes for great cross country reading) and started reading the sports pages, when a man sat down in the empty seat next to mine.

The guy looked familiar, though I couldn’t place him right away. Then it hit me. That’s Pete Carroll, Coach Carroll. formerly of the Jets.

After my “Hey Coach” introd we struck up a conversation, and talked on and off as AA Flight 15 made its way across the Alleghenies over the cornfields of Iowa and the Rockies and eventually into SFO.

As it turned out, we were born the same year, so we had a lot in common growing up, Carroll in Northern California and me in suburban New York. He asked me if I was a Jets or Giants fan. I told him the Giants were my team, but that like many New Yorkers I also followed the fortunes of the Jets, especially when they were having a good season.

We talked about Grateful Dead concerts we had attended, about Woodstock and some of the other great bands of the 60s and 70s.

A Year with The Jets
Carroll had just been fired by the Jets after just one season at the helm. The Jets got off to a 6–4 start under Carroll in 1994, but in week 12 they were victimized by Dan Marino’s clock play that led to a Dolphins game-winning touchdown.

They lost all of their remaining games to finish 6–10. Carroll was fired, replaced by Rich Kotite. How did that work out Jets fans?

I remember telling Carroll that I felt been giving a raw deal from the Jets, who never really gave him a chance.

He told me he was returning home to San Francisco to interview with the 49ers for a defensive coordinator position.

Well Carroll took that position in 1995 and two years later was named head coach of the New England Patriots. Taking over for Bill Parcells, he led the Pats to a 33-31 record and two playoff appearances in three years before being replaced by none other than Bill Belichick.

Success at USC
Carroll was named the head coach at Southern California in December of 2000,  signing a five-year contract after USC had gone through a tumultuous 18-day search to replace fired coach Paul Hackett. He was not the Trojans’ first choice, and was considered a long shot as USC initially planned to hire a high-profile coach with recent college experience.  Meanwhile Carroll, who had not coached in over a year and not coached in the college ranks since 1983, drew unfavorable comparisons to the outgoing Hackett.

To date, Pete Carroll. He is 93-16 as head coach with the Trojans, with back-to-back national championships in 2003 and 2004. His team won a school-record 34 straight games from 2003–2005, a streak that started after a triple-overtime loss to California and ended with the national championship game in the 2006 Rose Bowl, against the Texas Longhorns.

In a recent interview, Carroll told Esquire magazine: “Jerry Garcia said that he didn’t want his band to be the best ones doing something. He wanted them to be the only ones doing it. To be all by yourself out there doing something that nobody else can touch — that’s the thought that guides me, that guides this program.”

Yep, things are working out just fine for Pete Carroll at USC, thank you.

Top 10: New York State of Mind


The SportsLifer couldn’t get through the year without one more top 10 list.

So here they are, the top 10 moments in New York sports, 2008.

1. Catch XLII: Sparked by the unbelievable Eli Manning to David Tyree pass play, the Giants rally to defeat the previously unbeaten Patriots in the Super Bowl.

2. Yankee Money: Failing to make the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, Yankees sign free agents C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Texiera.

3. House Cleaning: The Knicks finally manage to get rid of Isiah Thomas, and new coach Mike D’Antoni puts Stephon Marbury out to pasture.

4. Collapse: For the second year in a row, the Mets fall apart in a September swoon and allow the Phillies to steal the NL East championship.

5. Collapse Redux: Brett Favre and the Jets lose four of their final five games and miss the playoffs, forcing the removal of coach Eric Mangini.

6. Final Farewell: Many of the greats return as the Yankees play the final game in the House that Ruth Built and the Mets close Shea Stadium.

7. Giants Among Men: Despite the distraction of the Plaxico Burress shooting, the Giants earn top seed in the NFC heading into the playoffs.

8. He Said, He Said: Disgraced Roger Clemens tries to clear his name of steroid allegations by trainer Brian McNamee.

9. Domination on Ice: The Rangers continue their sudden mastery of the cross-river rival Devils, taking round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs 4 games to 1.

10. Smart Sign: The Mets pull a huge off-season deal, acquiring left-handed pitcher Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins to fortify their pitching staff.

Is This the Year for a Subway Super Bowl?

Maybe, Just Maybe…

New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms was the MVP of Super Bowl XXI.

The Giants, the class of the NFC,  have already proven they can get there — and win. They did it last year, they lead the conference this year.

And if the Jets can knock off the unbeaten Titans on Sunday, then they’ll have to be considered one of the top-line favorites in the AFC. No matter what happens, the Jets are in good position to win the AFC East.

Only five times since Super Bowl I in 1967 have New York’s NFL entries, the Giants and Jets. made the playoffs in the same season. That’s five times in 42 seasons.

The only year both New York entries made a serious run in the same season was 1986, The G-Men went 14-2 that year, and trounced the 49ers (49-3), Redskins (17-0) and Broncos (39-20)  to win their first Super Bowl.

At one point that season the Jets were 10-1; then they lost five straight games. They beat the Chiefs, 35-15,  in the first round of the playoffs, then blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost to the Browns, 23-20, on Mark Moseley’s field goal, pictured right, in a marathon double overtime game, one of the longest in NFL history.

Other Times

1981: On the final weekend of the season, the Giants beat the Cowboys, 13-10, in overtime on a field goal by Joe Danelo, then cheered for the Jets the next day. And the Jets came through, romping over the Packers, 28-3, to put both New York teams into the playoffs together for the first time. The following Sunday, December 27, the Bills beat the Jets, 31-27, at Shea Stadium before the Giants upset the Eagles, 27-21, in Philadelphia. The 49ers beat the Giants, 38-24, the following week and went on to win their first Super Bowl.

1985: The Giants finished 10-6, then beat the defending champion 49ers, 17-3, at the Meadowlands. Big Blue was shut out, 21-0, by the Bears the next Sunday in Chicago. The Jets were 11-5, but dropped a 26-14 decision to the Patriots in the first round of the playoffs. The Bears beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl that year.

2002: G-Men won their last four, including a 10-7 overtime win over the Eagles, courtesy of a Matt Bryant field goal, in their last game, to wind up 10-6. They then blow a 38-14 lead to the 49ers and lost, 39-38 in the NFC wild card round. The Jets went  9-7 and blanked  the Colts, 41-0, before losing to the Raiders, 30-10.

2006: Big Blue goes 8-8 to earn a playoff spot, but loses to the Eagles, 23-20. Jets finish 10-6, but lose to the eventual champion Patriots, 37-16..