Saturday, December 26, 2009

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In That Section Of New York Known As New Jersey - 10.18.76 - SI Vault

As the Jets and Giants start to think about their new home...a look back at the days when playing in NJ was a novelty.

Last Sunday the two New York teams came home after four weeks on the road with a combined record of 0 and 8. The New Yorker who owed no particular allegiance to either the Giants or the Jets but had the know-how to obtain a ticket to one of two stadiums was faced with a curious dilemma. Should he try to find the New Jersey swamp where the Giants had moved and watch what used to be the darlings of Manhattan lose to the Dallas Cowboys while christening their new home? Or should he perhaps go out to windy old Shea and watch what used to be the darlings of Queens play a game they might have a chance to win, inasmuch as the Jets were matched against the Buffalo Bills, a team that is every bit as inept and possibly as unhappy?

There were side benefits to each choice. By going across the Hudson River into dark and strange New Jersey to watch the gang that still claims New York as its nest—but has carefully replaced the familiar "NY" headgear logo with "Giants," in case anybody from Essex Fells or East Orange notices—the New Yorker could at least be treated to seeing what a solid club looks like, this being the Cowboys. And by going out to the Jet-Buffalo game the extra treat would be to visualize a couple of millionaires, Joe Namath and O. J. Simpson, combating the media. Earlier in the week both Namath and Simpson had sounded off about the same press that has helped make them wealthy. Such ironies are not new to sport, however.

In any event, something special was happening on both flanks of Manhattan last Sunday afternoon, and about 135,000 people went to the trouble to see it live. In Shea Stadium the fans got very little of Namath passing or Simpson running, and while it can hardly be said that they were served up a thriller of a game, at least they could leave the place with the memory of a win. The Jets outgroped the Bills 17-14 for their first victory of the season but, as any hard-core New Yorker knew, even the old Titans with Al Dorow throwing end-over-ends won occasionally.

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