Dear 1970s: All is forgiven. You’re off the hook.
The past 10 years of New York metropolitan-area pro football at last have surpassed that era in awfulness.
Sure, that lost decade famously turned a generation of now late-middle-aged NFL fans from Long Island and the rest of the area into supporters of the Cowboys, Steelers, Raiders, Dolphins, etc. (In my case, it was Washington.)
But only people eligible for AARP cards remember that time. Now anyone old enough to turn on a television, computer or smart device and yell at the screen can appreciate the soul-crushing awfulness around us.
And unlike in the 1970s, it’s easier than ever to watch and adopt teams from other markets. The NFL and TV people don’t even bother always to keep the Giants and Jets in separate time slots anymore.
After the Jets and Giants raised hopes they could achieve mediocrity when they won in overtime in Week 4, this Sunday brought a dose of reality and two more dreary losses.
The only question is, which decade was worse? Tough call. But I give the nod to this one.
Let’s take the worst 10-year slices of each lost generation: 1971-80 and 2012-2021. (The Jets were 4-10 in 1970, but the Giants were 9-5.)
Start with the teams’ combined records.
The 21st century has a small edge at 110-188 (.369 winning percentage) versus 98-193-1 (.337 ) for the 1970s, but if each team keeps up its .200 batting average for this season that gap will narrow.
(And the Jets and Giants are 0-8-2 in regulation time, so subtract two victories under early 1970s rules!)
Neither team won a division title or a playoff game in those 10-year periods, but the 2016 Giants did at least play in a postseason game.
The Packers beat them, 38-13, in the wild-card round, after which Odell Beckham Jr. punched a hole in a Lambeau Field wall.
The Jets’ best recent season was 2015, when they went 10-6 but blew a playoff spot in a Week 17 loss at Buffalo. That was so long ago the Buffalo Bills — speaking of New York franchises! — were not yet the best team in football.
Since the start of the 2017 season, the Jets and Giants both are 19-50 and tied with each other for the worst record in the league.
I can hear the moaning from my contemporaries. Yes, things were tough back in the 1970s. We had to walk many miles to school through pre-climate change blizzards and our hair, fashion and music choices were unfortunate.
But there were some football bright spots!
Dave Jennings was a two-time All-Pro punter for the Giants, one of several Ring of Honor members who appeared in that decade, including Brad Van Pelt, George Martin, Harry Carson and Phil Simms.
Future Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton even made a cameo 1970s appearance, throwing 11 touchdowns passes and 21 interceptions in 1971 while running around under pressure in an entertaining fashion.
For the Jets, some stars of the 1980s began their careers, including Joe Klecko, Wesley Walker, Marty Lyons and Mark Gastineau, while the early 1970s featured a number of remaining members of the Super Bowl III-winning 1968 team.
That includes Joe Namath, who in 1972 led the NFL with 19 touchdown passes. But he threw 21 interceptions that year. From 1970-76, Namath had 73 touchdown passes and 111 interceptions.
Oh, boy. Maybe my original call requires a booth review.
Waiting, waiting, waiting . . . Nope, the ruling from several paragraphs ago is confirmed.
This 2021 thing stinks, and unlike in 1980 there does not appear to be reason for hope on the near horizon.
In 1981, both New York teams made the playoffs, and the Giants did so a total of six times from 1981-90, winning two Super Bowls. The Jets reached the playoffs four times from 1981-90, and another in 1991.
Let’s put it this way, beleaguered New York-area football fans: What are the odds that in the next 11 years the Giants and Jets will combine for 11 playoff appearances, even with an expanded field?