When the Jets weren't busy signing LaDainian Tomlinson or sending flowers to Rex Ryan in the hospital this weekend, they were busy trumpeting the idea that there was going to be a coin flip to decide whether they or the Giants got the honor of hosting the first regular season game at the new football stadium at the Meadowlands.
The NFL quickly denied any such coin toss was going to take place and said that commissioner Roger Goodell would make the choice about the schedule. That seemed to make sense, what with Goodell's penchant for micromanaging everything else that goes on in the league. It was surprising, then, to see a report from the Daily News Monday claiming that the league did conduct a coin toss in secret. The Giants won, per the report, and will be at home in the first week of the season.
No one from the league or the Giants is talking about the toss not heard around the world, but Jets owner Woody Johnson is said to be outraged. His outrage isn't that the Jets lost but that there weren't any team representatives present to observe the toss. Again, sounds fair enough but the whole to-do actually has very little to do with whether or not the coin landed on heads or tails.
The Jets have long been seen as second-class citizens in their own home stadium and not without reason. The Giants have a richer history in terms of both years and success and, of course, the name of the old joint was Giants Stadium even when the Jets hosted one of their infrequent playoff appearances. No other NFL team had to suffer such indignities and the Jets were reminded of the fact quite often.
This new stadium, though, has no such class structure. Johnson ponied up just as much cash as the Maras and Tisches to build the thing so he has just as much claim to ownership as the men who used to be his landlords. The entire push for the first home game was built around Johnson's belief, not without merit, that it was a new world order and the Jets deserved to be treated with a new level of respect.
Simply holding a transparent toss of the coin, public or otherwise, would represent that change in status quite well. Now, though, the league has opened the door to accusations that the choice was somehow rigged to give the Giants first claim on a home game. It's all quite silly, of course, and no one will much remember who went first five years from now but it's become a story now and the league will have to deal with it.
A free suggestion for them to chew over: One team hosts a game Sunday and the other hosts a game on the first Monday night of the season. Everyone is happy, everyone's got something special and we can move on to other topics post-haste.
UPDATE: While being careful not to strain any muscles with a furious pat on the back, it appears the opening weekend double dip is in the cards. Several outlets are now reporting that the Giants will play Sunday while the Jets play on Monday night. If we haven't already used up our mojo, let's try for the Cowboys on Sunday (return match from opener of Cowboys Stadium) and the Vikings on Monday night.