Sports are better when there are great teams. Sports are great when specific teams do great.
History suggests that the NBA is better when the Knicks, Bulls, Lakers, and Celtics are competing for a title – historic brands with iconic histories, logos that everyone can recognize with no shortage of great players to associate them with. The MLB is more noteworthy at the lunch table and around the office when big-time names like the Yankees, Dodgers, and Red Sox are at the top of the leaderboard. When they do well, baseball does well.
For the NFL, many believe that the brands that always seem to provide the best stories are the Raiders, Cowboys, Bears, and Dolphins. Each team covers a different region, has a different aesthetic on and off the field, and has a rich history.
Yet the league always feels better when one of the two New York teams is doing well. The Giants and Jets have a sense of tradition, and people in crowded-market New York City will always care about how their football teams do.
But pressure is starting to build up. Fast.
Here’s the reality: the Yankees and Mets have a collective argument to be the two most exciting teams in baseball. And their ratings show it with each team averaging about 200,000 cable viewers a game. And they both have the network money to keep the train going.
The Rangers don’t appear to be going anywhere as of right now.
The Knicks might not have the wins, but the culture is there under their coaching staff. The Nets, while polarizing and controversial, have a niche for being conversation-worthy regardless of where you live.
And the Bills have turned it around since drafting Josh Allen, pinning them as the most respected team in the league to many and the state of New York to all. Odds Shark’s sports book has Buffalo as the current Super Bowl favorite at +600.
The pressure is on the Jets to make the big step everything thinks they’ll be taking, or they could become invisible in a sports market that appears to be getting more packed every season. The excitement Jets fans feel about the team this season is some of the highest it’s ever been – the General Manager is universally loved and the aggressiveness during the off-season has provided positive talking points from April and into July. The same cannot be said for other teams at the bottom of the rankings last season. But if Joe Douglas doesn’t start to see all of his pieces start to fall together and if Zach Wilson just ends up being a taller Sam Darnold, the hope will die out. Robert Saleh’s “All Gas, No Breaks” mantra will really be put to the test on the field now that it’s largely succeeded off the field, unveiling whether or not the saying can come together to put points on the board and not just change the culture in the locker room.
Expectations are high, but with those expectations will come a particularly loud uproar if the Jets’ record doesn’t improve. With added pressure comes a lack of patience, and New York doesn’t have much of it to begin with.
New York City sports have made a splash with its franchises over the past five years, and sports are better off because of it. It’s time for the Jets to do the same, or the city they represent will eat them alive.