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Dan Shaughnessy

Full tank of Jet fuel for this week’s game

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / September 16, 2010

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FOXBOROUGH — Tom Brady was not very diplomatic when he spoke about the New York Jets a couple of weeks ago on his paid radio gig. Claiming he would not watch HBO’s sensational “Hard Knocks,’’ Brady said, “I hate the Jets.’’

Yesterday, Brady Gaga softened his stance a little.

“I have respect for the Jets because I think they play extremely hard,’’ said QB 12. “And they are very well-coached. It’s just the way the rivalry is.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of Boston people who like New York people. The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry’’ — remember those good old days? — “goes back a long ways. Over the years, there have been very competitive football games between the two of us.’’

Over the years . . .

We remember Spygate and the non-handshakes between Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini. We remember the Tuna working for both sides and Belichick resigning as HC of the NYJ. We remember when the Jets blew up the Pete Carroll regime by stealing Curtis Martin. And let’s not forget that Brady owes his entire career to the Jets. Brady took over as New England’s quarterback after Jets linebacker Mo Lewis demolished Drew Bledsoe in the second game of the 2001 season.

Jets, Jets, Jets.

Patriots, Patriots, Patriots.

We can’t wait for Sunday.

Television people anticipate sweeps week, runners highlight Marathon week, and airlines are overbooked on school vacation week. New England students need to remember move-in week, pledge week, and finals week.

For the Patriots and their fans, it’s Jets week.

“Jets week — always a big week around here,’’ Belichick said before taking any questions at the podium yesterday.

No doubt. There are games against the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, and Chicago Bears. But there’s a different feeling when it’s Jets week.

“They’re a great rival for us,’’ said Brady. “When we play them, it seems every game comes down to the end. Over the years, there’s been a lot of transition with players and coaches and so forth. They’ve got a good team.’’

The Jets also have a bombastic coach with a big gut and a mouth to match. When Rex Ryan took the Jets job, he said he was not going to the Meadowlands to kiss Belichick’s rings. On “Hard Knocks,’’ Ryan did a lot of yapping about the Jets being Super Bowl-bound. The Jets made it to the AFC Championship game last year after the Patriots were bounced in the first round of the playoffs. All-World corner Darrelle Revis called Randy Moss a “slouch.’’

The drumbeat from the swamps of Jersey has been nonstop.

“How can you not hear it?’’ Brady said. “Of course we hear it. We just go about our business in a different way, and a way that has worked for us.

“Every coach has their style. And we really take on the style of our head coach, who, as you guys know, doesn’t say much. So typically we don’t say much. And when we do, we get yelled at pretty good. It doesn’t seem that’s the program the Jets are on.’’

There’s an understatement. The Jets are on the Muhammad Ali “I Am The Greatest’’ Program. Too bad they are 0-1 and just lost one of their best defensive players (nose tackle Kris Jenkins). Too bad second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez looked like Heath Shuler in Monday’s 10-9 loss to Baltimore.

New York’s pathetic showing could hurt the Patriots’ preparation this week. Before that game, Belichick had things right where he wanted them. A majority of media wiseguys picked the Jets to supplant the Patriots atop the AFC East. Episodes of “Hard Knocks’’ gave Hoodie enough bulletin board material for a decade.

Unfortunately, New England’s easy win, coupled with the Jets’ pitiful performance, has righted the football universe and now most prognosticators believe the Patriots will stuff the Jets in their new stadium this weekend. Belichick has lost some of his motivational weaponry.

The Patriots are all about spin and staying on message, and it does not serve the cause to have Belichick stand at the podium on Wednesday of Jets week and hear, “Given how poorly Mark Sanchez played Monday night, how do you prevent your defense from taking him lightly?’’

Old Laughing Boy didn’t like that one, not one bit. He’s best served when surrounded by doubters and lightweights buying into the myth of Jet supremacy.

“When you are out there playing against these guys, there’s a certain level of intensity that these rivalries bring out,’’ said Brady. “And it’s not just another road game for us. They’re a division opponent. We know how hard it is playing a division opponent on the road.’’

Division opponent. I love that one. It’s so understated. The Jets are a divisional opponent the way the Yankees are a divisional opponent.

Brady hates the Jets. We hate the Jets. It’s Jets week, and Sunday can’t get here soon enough.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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