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The New York Jets: Week Five

14/10/2010

By Morgan Meis

There was lightning and there was rain. The sky above the meadowlands was on fire. What does it all mean, I wonder? Who was mad at whom? Was it a matter of old gods railing against new gods? Another Gigantomachia? Why did so much water fall that night? Why did the heavens pour down their rage as the little Roman, Mark Sanchez, was mounting a triumphant drive toward the end zone just before the half? Something great, some massive force objected to the possibility of The Jets scoring a touchdown just at that point. Some Titan, some Olympian, some Norse spirit of old had put his or her foot down. A field goal we can deal with, said the force, but a touchdown is absolutely unacceptable. And so the heavens were opened and the floods fell from the sky, and the light streaked across the horizon, and the thunder shook the earth. And Mark Sanchez did throw an incomplete pass.

We cannot rule out the possibility that the Old Man is in league with forces beyond our ken. Brett Favre turned forty-one the day before the game. In football years he may as well be Methuselah. He may as well be seven hundred and eighty and two years. Who begat this old man, anyway? And who begat the man who begat him? Old people from the South. Old souls from a town called Kiln, which sounds like a place that was founded before the Bronze Age. Not surprising at all when you watch the Old Man play. Brett Favre hurls the football like it is a prehistoric lump of dirt in a game whose rules were forgotten with the drying up of the last tar pit. Here’s another thing about Brett Favre. He’s got Choctaw blood flowing through his veins. The Choctaws ran and played along the riverbanks in the area we now call Mississippi.

As the Choctaws tell it, their people climbed up out of a cave near the sacred mound of Nanih Waiya. The Choctaws think that they came out of the earth last, after the Natchez, after the Cherokee, after everybody. They were the last peoples to emerge from the insides of the earth, to emerge forth and to see the sun. The Choctaws, though, were an agricultural folk not taken much to fighting.

Old Brett, by contrast, has a fire in his belly and an instinct for battle. He’s a son-of-a-bitch sometimes. Childish and willful, he flashes his charming grin and does what he likes. Even from underneath that football helmet his smile has always struck me as that of a naughty little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He expects to be spanked, wants it even, and then is always surprised when he gets the cookie anyway.

Old Brett joined the Minnesota Vikings last season and that was fitting enough. Watching Brett Favre play football is like reading the old epics. And then Brett didst fumble the ball and then he didst hurl the ball in the next play one thousand miles into the claws of the Mossy one and all rejoiced. And then Brett did grumble and grouse and lay the ball in the hands of the enemy, and he did walk away in shame.

The New York Jets dominated every facet of the football game for almost three quarters. And yet, they could not put the game away, could not end it. Something kept the score close, kept Old Brett within range so that the drama could play itself out into the final moments. Old Brett has won a million games in the final seconds and he has lost a million too. It is almost as if it is beyond the final score with him, beyond the facts, statistics, or amount of games won and lost. When Old Brett played with the New York Jets two seasons ago, after one thousand and one years with The Packers, he played like a genius for ten games and then like a crook for the final six. It turns out he was injured. But he didn’t care. Old Brett has racked up 289 consecutive starts as a player in the National Football League. It is an absurd record because it is impossible. He should have taken himself out at the end of the season. But he didn’t want to. He would rather be out there on the field, losing terribly and letting everyone down. He would rather be out there in ignominy and defeat than to sit down in silence.

Every game with Old Brett is a tale filled with moments as high and as low as can be imagined on a hundred yard pitch. He is out there simply so that ever single thing can happen and the story be exhausted by the time sixty minutes have ticked off the game clock. He wants to win like any Viking. But like a Choctaw from the ancient founding story, he wants even more just to be there, basking in the sun and the open air, the last man out of the cave.

If the rain and lightning conspired to keep the story going it was understandable. The grinning bastard has earned every second. We will never see another like him. And when the skies cleared The New York Jets were victorious once again anyway, and Old Brett had lost another game in failure that he’d almost won in glory. The Jets now stand alone, the kings of the AFC East. What will they make of this kingdom? We cannot know this. We can only know that they climb the mountains, upward a mile high into the craggy peaks where the wild horses run. Denver.

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Morgan Meis has been covering the Jets for The Owls. Read his posts on Weeks 1-4 here >>

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One comment

  1. Only you, Morgan. Terrific!



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