What are the worst moments for each NFL franchise? Yahoo Sports provides our opinion, which you are free to disagree with (and we’re sure you will).
5. Geno Smith, DNP (Broken Jaw via teammate)
158.3. That was Geno Smith’s quarterback rating during the final start of the 2014 season in a 37-24 win over the Miami Dolphins. Smith passed for 358 yards and three touchdowns, securing his role as the starter for the following season. But before Smith even had a chance to lose the starting job to Ryan Fitzpatrick on the field, it was an incident off the field that started the downward spiral of his career in New York. Teammate and defensive end IK Enemkpali broke Smith’s jaw during a fight on Aug. 11, 2015. Smith reportedly received a $600 airline ticket from Enemkpali to attend an offseason football camp he was hosting in Texas. When Smith no-showed, Enemkpali wanted to be reimbursed for the ticket in a timely manner. The money never arrived, so Enemkpali direct deposited his fist onto Smith’s face and handed the starting quarterback job to Ryan Fitzpatrick in the process. Smith would start only one game for the Jets after the injury. Say what you want about the Cleveland Browns, but even that locker room has managed to protect their carousel of starting quarterbacks from their own. But not the Jets.
4. Creepy Uncle Joe Namath
Joe Namath is the greatest quarterback in Jets history. He also had the creepiest moment in Jets history. During a Jets-Patriots ESPN broadcast in 2003, Namath was interviewed by sideline reporter Suzy Kolber. The interview started off innocently enough, with Namath going on and on about quarterback Chad Pennington, who was the starter at the time for the Jets. The first sign Namath was probably not sober was when he mentioned that the Jets could win the Super Bowl if the team supported Pennington. The interview went completely off the rails shortly thereafter. “I wanna kiss you,” Namath told Kolber. “I couldn’t care less about the team struggling. What we know is we can improve. Chad Pennington, our quarterback, missed the first part of the season, and we struggled. We’re looking to next season, we’re looking to make a noise now and … I wanna kiss you!” Kolber was aware of the train wreck that was happening and did her best to salvage the “struggling” interview. “I felt like, ‘uh-oh,’ Joe is in trouble here and let’s get him out of it,” Kolber shared in the HBO documentary, “Namath.” Namath would apologize to Kolber, blaming the awkward 90-second interaction on too much “Christmas cheer.”
3. Fake Spike Game
Back when the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets were both relevant enough to be considered a legit rivalry, Dan Marino executed the definitive fake spike for his 29th career comeback win. In Week 13 of the 1994 season, the Dolphins trailed 24-21 as Marino marched the Dolphins down the field with the game on the line. Following a first-down completion to Mark Ingram at the Jets’ 8-yard line, Marino nonchalantly walked to the line of scrimmage while audibly calling for the next play to be a spike. The Jets defenders let their guard down as Marino faked a spike and instead threw to Ingram in the end zone for a touchdown with 22 seconds remaining. The Dolphins would go on to win 28-24, capping a 17-point rally in what was a tight AFC East division. New York would go on to lose five straight to end the season and ultimately cost Pete Carroll his job.
2. Butt Fumble
The Butt Fumble would have been embarrassing if it happened in the preseason, but the fact that it happened on Thanksgiving night 2012, on national television, with Jets fans watching with judgmental family members likely questioning why you root for this team made it that much more crushing. With the Jets trailing 14-0 in the second quarter, Mark Sanchez was lined up under center, with fullback Lex Hillard and running back Shonn Greene in the backfield. When the ball was snapped, Sanchez forgot the play – a misdirection handoff to the fullback Hillard. But instead of sliding and taking the loss of yardage after missing the handoff, the quarterback not known for his legs decided to scramble, which he did straight into the backside of offensive guard Brandon Moore, causing a fumble and subsequent 35-yard touchdown recovery for New England’s Steve Gregory.
“I guess [I was] more stunned than anything,” Sanchez said after the now infamous play. “It was just like … a car accident. I was like, ‘Whoa, what just happened? The ball is gone.’ It was weird, man. That sucked.”
Yes, it really did suck.
1. Bill Belichick quits
Leave it to the New York Jets to hire a coach that would go on to become arguably the greatest mastermind in NFL history … for another team. That’s what happened in January 2000, when Bill Belichick was announced as head coach of the Jets only to quit the next day. Belichick was hired in 1997 as an assistant head coach and eventually promoted to defensive coordinator under Bill Parcells. With Parcells stepping away from coaching after the 1999 season, the upstart Belichick was the most logical choice for the job.
“There are a number of obvious uncertainties that would affect the head coach of the team,” Belichick said. “I just don’t feel at this time that I can lead the Jets with the 100 percent conviction that I need.”
The obvious uncertainties had to do with the death of owner Leon Hess and the ownership limbo the franchise was in at the time. Two weeks after Belichick quit, Woody Johnson bought the Jets for $635 million.
This was Belichick’s second stint as Jets coach without coaching a game. New York “settled” on Belichick in 1997, but the Jets were still negotiating to get Parcells out of his contract with New England. When they did, Belichick became the team’s “assistant head coach” and defensive coordinator, with the understanding that when Parcells left the organization Belichick would get the job. Two years later, Parcells stepped down and Belichick got the job … for a day.