The conversation inside my head around 12:30 p.m. Sunday, after the New York Jets finished off the Miami Dolphins, 27-14 to move to 3-1:
Side A: Holy crap! The Jets are 3-1! Maybe they’re actually good!
Side B: Chill out. They’ve beaten three pretty crappy team so far: The Browns, Colts and Dolphins would have trouble beating Ohio State.
Side A: Who cares? They’re 3-1. They have a real offense, led by a real good running back (Chris Ivory) a top receiver (Brandon Marshall) and a defense that’s as good as the ones they had in ’09 and ’10 when they went to the AFC Title game.
Side B: Look what you’re doing to yourself. It’s been four games. Their quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, only played OK on Sunday. He’s better than Geno Smith, but so is Wilma Flinstone. Calm down. Did you forget the Jets still play in the same division as the Patriots?
Side A: But the Jets have a real coach for once! One who actually makes smart in-game decisions, doesn’t talk smack in the media, and keeps an even keel. And he’s actually got his team doing exactly what he preaches.
Side B: Yeah, but remember, you liked Rex Ryan once too.
Side A: They’re 3-1 and you won’t let me get at least a little excited, especially when you look at the upcoming schedule and see lots of beatable teams (Washington, Oakland) on it?
Side B: No, I won’t let you get excited. I’ve been watching this team for 35 years. Have you learned that nothing good ever happens to them, and you’ve gotten excited so many times before?
Side A: You’re right, you’re always right. Nothing will ever change. I’m so glad you’re here.
Side B: Me too.
Yeah, the Jets do weird things to me…
Some other quick-hit NFL thoughts…
— Remember when everyone used to complain how automatic kicking had become, and that no one ever missed inside 50 yards anymore? NFL kickers missed 14 field goals and four PAT’s this week. Insane. Where have you gone, Morten Anderson?
— So much fun to watch Rex Ryan coach a team other than mine. On 4th and 1 Sunday from the 1, Bills QB Tyrod Taylor threw a screen pass four yards behind the line of scrimmage. Buffalo fans, I feel your pain. And I’m glad it’s your pain and not mine.
— Is there anything more fun than watching Jerry Jones agonize over a Cowboys’ loss and seeing if his face moves at all? I didn’t think so.
— Atlanta, Carolina, Cincinnati all moved to 4-0. And I don’t believe in any of them as a serious contender yet. Fool me so many times, Matt Ryan and Andy Dalton, I stop believing.
**Next up, I think it’s pretty crystal clear if you read this blog that I’m no fan of Hillary Clinton, and that I’m hoping like heck she implodes like she did in 2008 and Bernie Sanders or Martin O’Malley gets the Democratic nomination for President.
But I have to give credit where it’s due: Hillary was pretty funny in her appearance on “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend. Especially the Donald Trump impression … pretty damn good.
**Finally today, like many of you I spent some time over the weekend thinking about yet another awful mass shooting on American soil, and I watched our President give a moving speech/statement about gun violence in America, looking as powerless as the rest of us to do anything to change our laws.
And I tried not to get despondent. Even as I read stories like this fascinating New York Times graphic, that explains how the last 14 mass shooters got their guns, that eight of them had either criminal histories or previously known mental illnesses, yet our federal gun laws allowed each of them to purchase their weapons legally.
Or this chart above from the Washington Post, which shows the amount of gun deaths worldwide vs. the amount of deaths caused by terrorism. Chilling.
But it’s hard not to give up hope. It’s hard. So I did what I could do to make a small difference: I gave a small donation to one of my favorite organizations, Cure Violence, which works in inner cities and uses ex-gang mambers to “interrupt” gun violence before it happens. They’ve had tremendous success in major places like Chicago and New York, but of course their funding is always nowhere near what it should be.
And I tried to envision a day when our politicians aren’t completely held hostage by the NRA, a day when actual, meaningful laws could be enacted against gun violence, and a day when all the politicians who say it’s a “mental health issue” will suddenly listen to themselves and actual spend MORE money on mental health services in America. Fund clinics in hospitals and treatment centers, let them hire more social workers and psychologists and case workers to actually treat those who so desperately are crying out for help.
I can’t see that day yet. But one day it will come. That thought helps get me through.