Something to believe in: Finding inspiration in rival fans’ celebration

A sea of green

New York City definitely isn’t the most comfortable place for a Dolphins fan these days, as I witnessed first-hand when I made a rare sojourn to Times Square to hit up Foot Locker today and found myself smack dab in the middle of a massive Jets playoff pep rally.

Ignoring my teal and orange instinct to run for the hills, I ventured farther into Jetsville to secure a coveted rally towel for a good friend who happens to be a fan of Gang Green. I was unable to bring myself to take a Rex Ryan poster for him.

If the glove fits...Let it be known that I’ve never liked the Jets. Though this certainly doesn’t apply to all of them, I’ve known some pretty obnoxious Jets fans in my day, and I’m still reeling from the horrible “Miracle in the Meadowlands” game 9 years ago, when Jumbo Elliott of all people scored a touchdown as my favorite squad blew a 30-8 lead.

But you know, I had to admit the pep rally was pretty cool – though not on the level of the Dolphins version I attended last January in Miami, where I met my dude Greg Camarillo. But I appreciated it all the same, and I was able to give some props to Curtis Martin, who I’ve always liked, when he walked right by me.

One thing Dolphins fans have in common with Jets fans is that our teams haven’t won it all in a really long time. For me, it hasn’t been since five years before I was born, while for Jets fans, it’s five years longer than that. Such a long, fruitless period of time lends itself to cynicism, nihilism and neuroticism. (Is it any wonder that many Jets fans are also Mets fans? Besides the Shea Stadium connection, that is)

The Jets weren’t really that great for most of the season, hovering around .500. And that makes their current run all the more inspiring. Each playoff win is a gift, manna from heaven. And watching thousands of fans clad in Darrelle Revis jerseys – in truth, the wearers mostly looked more like the Jets’ coach than their best player – letting loose with the J-E-T-S chant actually gave me the chills, and believe me, I have no love lost for the chant.

Because after all, isn’t this exactly what we want from our sports teams? We want moments like this. We want Game 1 of the 2006 NLCS, when Beltran hit it off the scoreboard at Shea and I was hugging complete strangers. We want to cry tears of joy and release and pride when Piazza hits it a mile 10 days after 9/11. We want LJ’s four-point play. We want to watch Gatti and Ward hug before the 10th round of fight No. 3.

We want to watch Duke win it all our senior year of college and feel like it’s destiny.

We spend so much time watching, feeling and believing. And we want our teams to love us back the way we love them, to give us something to believe in, in return for making them such a large part of our identities, collective and personal. A reason to have put our time, our heart, our soul and our minds into rooting for them.

And what I saw was a collection of fans enjoying just that. Now I’m not saying that if Sanchez throws four picks against the Colts on Sunday, that this same group won’t be cursing the day his mother was born. But today was about fathers and sons, boyfriends and girlfriends, groups of friends – all clad in green, enjoying the rewards reaped from sticking with a team that doesn’t often offer rewards, and sharing that with plenty of others just like them.

In the end, I won’t be rooting for the Jets this Sunday, because it’s simply against my nature. But if they win, I’ll think about the people I saw today and know that regardless of the team they root for, everyone deserves to be lifted off the ground once in a while.

And I’ll continue to look forward to my next turn to feel like that.



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