Jets fans are apoplectic over the "childish condescension" shown by churlish WFAN radio talk-show host Mike Francesa, who has taken over the antagonistic schtick of former partner Chris Russo to such a degree that it's as if he's swallowed the Mad Dog whole.
Francesa is a New York sports institution who sets the tone locally like no person in a generation -- and perhaps like no other person. That's astounding given all the media fragmentation today. He's a living anachronism, with his due diligence still consisting of the Daily News sports section. He relies on the "computer between his ears" instead of the wealth of data now a mouse click away. The consequences are often comical, but less so than his pigheadedness when he's been proven wrong.
Given the volume of Francesa's criticism of the Jets all year, fans were unsurprisingly eager to see how he'd respond to the team's surprising victory in San Diego. Those expecting fireworks were not disappointed. Here are some highlights.
Caller Caruso: "Are the Jets the best defense this year?"
Francesa: "That's not important. I don't understand."
Getting Francesa even at this point to simply say the Jets have the NFL's best defense is akin to getting Fonzie to admit that he was wrong.
John Butchko of GangGreenNation.com which featured a post on Francesa's Jets vitriol on the eve of the Jets wild-card win in Cincy, says, "Hey, I mean defense is only half of the game. What's important about that? Him admitting he doesn't understand is the first thing I agree with him on in months."
This came after Francesa went on at length about the Jets defense being historically good at, wait for it, getting kickers to miss field goals. He then played highlights of the five missed field goals against the Jets the last two playoff weeks with commentary dripping with sarcasm.
"Wait, I thought he didn't understand how important defense is," Butchko says. "The Jets ranked No. 1 defensively in a number of areas. It's nice to see him finally give the Jets some credit, even if it is in field goal defense."
John from Rego Park asked, "If the Jets have a chance to win this week, why didn't they have a chance if Manning played the whole game in Week 16?"
Francesa: "They're a better team now."
Seems reasonable. But consider Francesa's anti-Jets, anti-Rex Ryan explosion after that Week 16 Colts game. Then, he mocked Rex Ryan's notion that the Jets were a "dangerous team" and said the "Colts are on the moon" compared to where the Jets are as a team. And he added the Colts would have scored 39 points "easy" if Manning had stayed in.
He repeated his take on his Sunday night New York sports wrap-up show, Mike'd Up. Bottom line, says Francesa, "the Jets were very fortunate" against San Diego. "All the bounces went their way." When a caller notes the three fumbles the Chargers lost and recovered and the one that was overturned, Francesa only mutters that the overturn was a good call.
You have to give Francesa credit for sitting there and, for the most part, letting callers rip him. He was called a "pathetic" guy who "used to have good contacts" but who "now should stick to baseball hot stove." Of course, when the callers were too clever, he simply disconnected them after dodging inconvenient questions like an expert politician.
Francesa was especially ineffective when countering caller accusations that he lauded the Giants in the past when they won the Super Bowl on a missed field goal.
"That was 47-yard field goal on grass!" Of course, Nate Kaeding's missed 40-yarder on grass was not remotely a kick that would have won the game.
John from New Jersey: "The Giants were completely outplayed by the Cowboys in the divisional round in 2008 and got bouquets from you versus the condescension Jets fans are getting today."
Francesa takes this moment to employ one of his famous non sequiturs. He "fought for weeks with people about how the Giants should have played hard in the season finale against the Patriots."
What about this week? In Francesa World, the Jets can finally prove him wrong and all the Jets fans who hate him right be showing once and for all that their Colts win wasn't a gift. Of course, this is a straw man and not remotely what has Jets fans riled up. Francesa used what we will all concede was gift to say the Jets are not a worthy playoff team. He's been proven wrong. A team that reaches the AFC Championship Game is by definition worthy of the playoffs.