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Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Flash Points: Jets' defining moment

By Tim Graham

What key event significantly changed the fortunes of the Jets -- for better or worse? Give us your take and we'll give you our definitive moment on May 26.

How many defining moments can a franchise have when it has won a single championship, and that was 42 years ago?

The New York Jets won Super Bowl III after quarterback Joe Namath made his famous guarantee. That moment didn't make my short list because the Super Bowl didn't necessarily change the Jets' fortunes; it was the Jets' fortune.

The pivotal development to get the Jets to their lone championship was Namath eschewing the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals and taking a chance on the upstart AFL. Broadway Joe became the face of the league and remains a transcendent New York icon. In four decades, no other Jets player has come close to matching the impact Namath made.

Highlights have been minimal in the years since, but the New York Sack Exchange of Mark Gastineau, Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam provided the franchise milepost of the 1980s.

The Jets made a splash when they hired Bill Parcells as general manager and head coach in 1997. His arrival sparked a Jets-Patriots rivalry that has grown into one of the NFL's best, featuring Curtis Martin's jump to the Jets out of loyalty to the coach.

Although he has been with the Jets only two seasons, I don't think it's premature to include head coach Rex Ryan's arrival as an option for the defining moment. The culture under Ryan is a stark contrast to the organization under predecessor Eric Mangini. The Jets have gone to back-to-back AFC Championship Games and are considered a hot destination because free agents want to play for Ryan.

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