Tom Jackson wasn't alone in picking the New York Jets to lose to the New England Patriots on Sunday. Oddsmakers installed the Pats as 9.5-point favorites and nearly everyone on the morning pregame shows was predicting Tom Brady(notes) and company would advance to the AFC championship.
But in his postgame interview with ESPN, Jets linebacker Bart Scott(notes) singled out Jackson, who picked the Pats to win 30-10, as someone the team proved wrong. One day later, the ESPN analyst took to the radio to defend his pick, insisting that he only predicted New England would win big because it'd motivate the Jets. "It was done pre-meditated," he told "Mike and Mike in the Morning."
Uh, all right.
Here's Scott's excellent postgame rant, in case you've forgotten:
Jackson took exception to this and felt the need to clarify why he picked New England (other than the fact that it had won 45-3 one month earlier and was thought to be the better team by all objective observers):
"[Sunday] I played a bit of a psychological game with the Jets. It's something that I need to explain. I thought that more important to the Jets than hearing another score of '24-21, they have a chance to win,' was that it was important that they have in their mind, 'you got beat 45 to 3. A large segment of the population believes that can happen to you again.'
"[The Jets] are all watching [ESPN Sunday 'NFL Countdown' before the game]. I wanted to further fuel and cement them in that bunker mentality of us against the world. [...]
"As a defensive player, I certainly knew that they had a chance to win and I thought that they certainly might win the game. But I knew when they saw 30-10 that I think they would be reminded of what most people were feeling. And I knew they needed to be a little angrier going on the field."
There you have it. Every time Tom Jackson picks a game, there's some mental manipulation going on under the surface. He can will teams to victory simply by doubting them. And here you thought Chris Berman was the most narcissistic person on ESPN's NFL crew.
The Jets like to create their own narratives about upcoming games. Playing the Patriots was about the believers vs. the non-believers. Scott fixated on Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson as the guys he proved wrong, but if they had picked the Jets he'd have yelled the name of another doubter. It didn't matter who didn't believe, it just mattered that it was someone.
I suppose the next logical question is who Jackson will pick to win between the Jets and Steelers, and what subtle, Machiavellian undertones said prediction will have. We'll find out Sunday. CAN'T WAIT!