New York Jets learn talk is cheap in NFL

As I consider recalcitrance a virtue, I’m heartened to know that Joe Namath has a Twitter account before I do. Still, on the eve of the big game between original AFL franchises, New York and New England, I’m also encouraged to learn that he used the technology toward a worthy end.

His criticism of the Jets, however mild, was well-deserved. What’s more, I’d like to think it marks his transformation from team shill to ombudsman. Without question, Gang Green could use these services.

Yes, I know he’s promoting a new radio show with my colleague, Adam Schein. Just the same, as the author of the famously tipsy Guarantee, and the strategic calculus that beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, he’s more than qualified to offer an opinion on the New York Jets.

You need 10 yards to keep a game alive, and you run a nine-yard out? As Namath himself put it, “Disgusting.”

If Namath’s career stands for anything, it’s the notion that you’re obligated to back up your words, something the Jets have failed to do in this still very young season. "I’ve got to believe that this ‘Hard Knocks’ stuff was a distraction," Namath told Michael Kay on Thursday.

It was, however, a distraction they assumed with great glee. I’ve never seen a more candid team. Nor have I seen one embrace its own ambition with such grandiosity, an ethos – Super Bowl or bust! – that begins with the head coach. After all of one preseason, the 2010 Jets will go down as the greatest reality show in NFL history. But now Rex Ryan and his charges must learn the hard way that reality TV has little to do with reality.

Nuance counts for nothing. You’re bound only by the smack that you talk. I guarantee it.

First, the Jets talk about the Super Bowl. Then they go out and pass for 74 yards on opening night. Now they get the Patriots, their second home game at a Stadium not named for the Giants.

In a rhetorical context, this is the perfect storm. I mean, I find myself wondering if Don King is promoting Sunday’s game. Again, it starts with Ryan, who might just be learning, like his father before him, that there’s a difference between players’ coaches and head coaches.

“I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings.” That’s what he said shortly after taking the job just 14 months ago. “I came here to win. … I’m certainly not intimidated by New England.”

The Jets split their two games with the Patriots last year. But they were unencumbered by expectations. They were playing with house money. Now, the defending division champions, a team that finished, quite surprisingly, one game from the Super Bowl, finds itself three-point dogs to the Patriots at home. New England, at least on paper, hasn’t gotten much better. And the oddsmakers haven’t gotten stupider. In other words, Namath – who made his bones with contempt for a 17-point spread – isn’t alone in thinking that the Jets have talked too much, too early.

“Joe likes to sling it because that’s the kind offense they had back then,” Sanchez said earlier this week. “But we have a great running game.”

What are they teaching these kids at USC? I’d advise young Mr. Sanchez to get a tape of Super Bowl III, as it would demonstrate that the mere threat of “slinging it” can make a ground game possible. As for his contention that the Jets have “a great running game,” he’s a little young to be living in the past, no? That was last year, with Thomas Jones gaining 1,402 yards. This year, they’re praying Shonn Green doesn’t fumble, which he did twice in five carries against the Ravens.

Then there’s Braylon Edwards, another receiver with great regard for himself. After Namath tweeted that he seems to drop as many balls as he catches, Edwards responded with the old tell-me-to-my-face bit: “That’s his mouth, his words. I really don’t think Mr. Namath knows me. I’m sure he’s never followed me. He’s a Jet guy and I was in Cleveland for five years, and I had one bad season … ”

Perhaps this could’ve been avoided then, if Namath had only drafted Mr. Edwards for his fantasy team.

Finally, don’t forget the Darrelle Revis-Randy Moss bit. It began with Revis calling the receiver a “slouch” for the way he played at the Meadowlands a year ago.

“You’ve got 60 minutes of this slouch,” Moss said the other day, after pouting for a new contract.

“I called him a slouch,” said Revis, “because I felt he played like a slouch.”

Is this great, or what?

“I hate the Jets,” says Tom Brady.

He’s not alone. I guarantee it.