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Dan Shaughnessy

Why Patriots fans should be on board with the Jets

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / January 23, 2011

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PITTSBURGH — J . . . E . . . T . . . S.

Jets! Jets! Jets!

I’m in. I’m on the Jets bandwagon. I’ve been carrying Fireman Ed on my shoulders all over Pittsburgh, and let me tell you, he’s heavier than he looks.

The Jets are fun. The Jets have a coach who says what he thinks without regard for the consequences. The Jets lack self-importance. They do backflips in the end zone.

Oh, and the Jets have fans who have suffered for years, just like Red Sox fans up until 2004.

If you are a Patriots fan still smarting from the shocker last Sunday, you should be rooting for the Jets tonight. The better the Jets do, the more the Patriots will be driven to beat them. If the Jets win the AFC Championship at Heinz Field, perhaps the Krafts will be inspired to spend a little more money on payroll next year (are we supposed to feel good that the Patriots have the third-lowest payroll in the NFL?).

Maybe New England will stop trading down to get “value’’ for high draft picks. Maybe New England will seek more talent. Maybe the Patriots will go for broke next year, while Tom Brady is still at the height of his powers.

So, yes, the Jets are my team. I hope they go on to win the Super Bowl in Dallas in two weeks. Perhaps that will motivate people back at Patriot Place.

Imagine the noise next year when the Super Bowl champion Jets come to Gillette Stadium. That game will be so big Wes Welker might actually get to start.

What’s not to love about Rex Ryan? The big fella wears sleeveless sweater vests and his heart on his sleeve. He is a man with no filter. He tells his players they are the best. He tells them they are champs, even after they sometimes play (and behave) like chumps. If Rex coached your Little League team, you know he’d take everyone out for ice cream after every game, win or lose.

Here’s the headline Sports Illustrated slapped on last week’s Jets-Patriots game story: “Fun Marches On.’’

That’s right. Fun. The Jets are all about fun. And now they have a chance to go to the Super Bowl for the first time since Joe Willie Namath guaranteed victory in Miami in 1969.

How can you root against a team with a general manager who was a Needham Rocket and a UMass Minuteman? Mike Tannenbaum grew up watching Bob Lobel on Channel 4 and reading Bob Ryan on these pages. He is one of us.

How can you root against a team with Dennis Byrd? The former Jets defensive end was temporarily paralyzed during a 1992 game, but he returned to deliver a motivational speech in Foxborough last weekend. His tattered jersey hangs in the Jets locker room. Byrd will accompany Jets captains to midfield tonight for the ceremonial coin toss.

OK, the Jets have a few players who lack class. Let’s try to remember the good-guy Jets — like Curtis Martin, an ex-Patriot who turned out to be the greatest running back in Jets history.

The Jets are so hot at this hour that HBO2 aired a five-hour “Hard Knocks’’ marathon yesterday from 3-8. It was another chance to see the Jets eating cheeseburgers at practice, to see when Danny Woodhead was a Jet.

You should root for the Jets because they are homeless. For years the Jets played their home games at Giants Stadium. Officially, they are the New York Jets, but they’re more like the Queens Jets, the Long Island Jets, or the Jets from the Swamps of New Jersey. They tried to gather fans for a rally in Times Square Thursday, but not even Fireman Ed (Edwin M. Anzalone) could stop traffic in midtown Manhattan. There will be no Canyon of Heroes for these guys.

If none of these arguments bring you around, you should root for the Jets tonight because you don’t want to root for the Steelers. The Steelers and their fans are babies. By any definition, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a boor. If he wins tonight, he’s going to his third Super Bowl, and that’s going to start talk of comparisons with Brady.

The Steelers have won two Super Bowls since the last time the Patriots won one. You want to see them go for a third?

No. You want the Jets.

It’s not as stupid as it sounds. Really.

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

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