The battle for the back pages is always part of sporting life in New York City, and the conventional wisdom has always held that the Yankees and Giants got more of them than the Mets and Jets. The Mets tend to only challenge the Yankees in their most embarrassing spurts, at least since the early '90s, and this year is no different. Football is up for grabs, though, and the run-up to this weekend's games is a big reason why.
The Jets have spent the week sounding like WWE stars instead of football players, culminating in Kerry Rhodes's hint that Tom Brady's knee wouldn't make it through the game unscathed while talking about his desire to embarrass the Patriots.
"Not just go out there and try to win, try to embarrass them. Try to make them feel bad when they leave here. We don’t want to just beat them. We want to send a message to them, ‘We’re not backing down from you and we expect to win this game, and it’s not going to be luck, it’s not going to be a mistake.’"
Rex Ryan, of course, had absolutely no problem with Rhodes taking his verbal shots at a team that's beaten the Jets eight straight times in New Jersey. Ryan has changed the personality of the Jets almost overnight, from apologetic losers to ultra-confident, aggressive bullies even though they've played exactly one game. The trash talk sells that change, but only because that one game made everything Ryan's said stand up. That catches eyes, it wins attention and it does a lot to close the perceived gap with the Giants.
Big Blue, on the other hand, spent the week silently going about their task while letting all the focus on their game go to a building in Dallas. Brandon Jacobs tried to spark something by saying that he hated the Cowboys, but his reasoning for hating the Cowboys -- they have a lot of fans -- was as lame as Cowboys receiver Patrick Crayton's response.
"We kind of don't respect the Giants."
Sizzling stuff. The Giants, of course, profess not to care about such matters, but their failure to sell PSLs to the new stadium might force them to think otherwise. There are only so many dollars floating around out there, and if Ryan, Mark Sanchez and the rest of the Jets keep capturing the city's attention this season it will probably cause some of those bucks to head in the Jets' direction.
Sober, calm and composed may win football games, though it bears mentioning that the 2007 champs were none of those things, but they don't win headlines and dominate conversations. The Jets still have to back up what they've thrown on the table, but if they do they're going to be a better story. That's not the same as being the better team, although you'd be hard-pressed to know the difference based on the coverage.