The wounds left from the 2008 season have healed slowly over the last month, and reaching a full recovery has been a very slow process. Rex Ryan’s press conference nursed most fans back to health, and with the Super Bowl in the books the road to good living is visible along the horizon.
With issues regarding Brett Favre’s future and the pending salary cap saga approaching, a sunny Sunday in Hawaii will be exactly what the doctor ordered before the grueling offseason takes it’s course.
The glorified game of flag football will see at least six Jets suiting up in hideous red and white uniforms alongside some of the other best players the AFC had to offer. The game itself will likely be a disappointing affair, but none of that should matter.
It’s an opportunity to see fan-favorite Jets players on the field one more time until August rolls around. Six months without professional football is always hard enough.
For the first time since Justin Miller went as a kick returner, fans have an opportunity to actually care about February football again.
Most importantly, despite the meltdown fans have six players who deserve our support. Of the six Jets in Hawaii, four of them are playing in their very first Pro Bowl.
Favre—fresh off his 10th selection—will be replaced by Kerry Collins. But every other player voted in is expected to play.
Thomas Jones will be the AFC’s starting running back. Fresh off his AFC-leading and Jets record-breaking performance in 2008, Jones has the honor of attending his first Pro Bowl while on the wrong side of 30.
Appropriately, two of the men who blocked for Jones during his phenomenal season will be starting on Sunday.
Alan Faneca—a perennial Pro Bowl selection—is no stranger to Honolulu. And Nick Mangold should receive the nod, replacing an injured Kevin Mawae as the starting center.
Leon Washington—who could’ve gone as an offensive weapon—will see most of his action on special-teams as a return man.
Playing behind Nnamdi Asomugha and Cortland Finnegan is standout cornerback Darrelle Revis in his first Pro Bowl. Expect him to see lots of time in nickel packages and with defensive rotations.
The glowing endorsement from his new head coach could translate to some confident play from the second-year man.
And finally, Kris Jenkins will be in the middle of the AFC’s defense for the first time in his career. His previous trips to Hawaii were spent as a representative of the NFC’s best.
While it would’ve been wonderful to see Tony Richardson, Calvin Pace, Kerry Rhodes, and D’Brickashaw Ferguson acknowledged for their efforts in 2008, their absences are understandable given the talent in the AFC this year.
In this situation it’s not the game that matters, it’s the recognition. For too long the Jets were an overlooked, underrated, laughing stock for fans who knew nothing of Jets football.
Rightfully so? Perhaps. But despite the Jets’ historic meltdown in the final quarter of the season, the men selected to the Pro Bowl all performed at a level worthy of the honor they received.
It’s that fact that should make the Pro Bowl most appealing to Jets’ fans. It’s one tiny piece of consolation for a season gone terribly wrong. And it’s something that’s well-deserved after a Super Sunday the New York Jets should’ve been playing in.