Chuck Clark talks to the media during a Jets OTA...

Chuck Clark talks to the media during a Jets OTA on Tuesday. Credit: Ed Murray

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Chuck Clark was born in Philadelphia, grew up and went to college in Virginia, then spent the first six years of his NFL career in Baltimore. But when the Jets safety stepped up on a podium to speak with reporters after Tuesday’s OTA workout he was all New York. You might even say he was interlocking with the city, wearing a cap with the Yankees logo perched atop his head.

Is he a fan? A front-runner?

“I just like the hat,” he said of representing the hottest team in town. “Last week I had on a Mets hat.”

Definitely not a front-runner then.

Still, the headwear sparked a conversation about hardware, as in the trophies that come from winning championships. Now that the Knicks and Rangers have been eliminated from their scintillating postseason runs in recent weeks, the Yankees clearly represent this town’s next best chance to end a title drought that, among its eight combined major pro franchises, reached an incredible 100 combined seasons when the Rangers’ run ended on Saturday.

But if the Yanks can’t pull it off this fall, guess which team is waiting in the on-deck circle?

That’s right. These Jets, the team that hasn’t even made the postseason in 13 straight years, the team that hasn’t reached a Super Bowl since 1969, could be the organization that eight months from now snaps the Gotham whammy and earns the first local ‘ship since the 2011 Giants.

“I would love it,” Clark said of being that team. “Having been in a different place and winning there, just seeing if we win here in this media and this market, it could mean everything. Trying to do everything to win here for real.”

Besides Clark’s cap, the Jets certainly got a little sense of what it could be like for them if this upcoming season goes according to plan by watching their winter-season cousins push deep into springtime. There were several outings among the players to attend Knicks and Rangers games at Madison Square Garden not only to see the high level of competition but also to get a real feel for the electricity that comes from playoff runs. And neither of those squads even made it to the championship round. Imagine if one or both were still playing? They would put ConEd out of business.

“It’s exciting,” tight end Tyler Conklin said. “Obviously this is the greatest place to win, right? Winning with this fan base, in this market, this city, we got a glimpse of that this year with the Rangers and the Knicks. I follow basketball a little bit more so I got to see it with the Knicks, but obviously it makes you hungry and it makes you want to go out there and make a long playoff run.”

To be fair, no one on the Jets really knows what it’s like to win in New York. It’s been so long since the last champion here nary a player or coach has been here long enough to have actually experienced it. The closest they could have come to it is local kids such as Jeremy Ruckert in Lindenhurst or Izzy Abanikanda in Brooklyn having been in middle school the last time ticker tape fell on New York pro athletes.

But they all see the way past champs are deified. They see the clout Joe Namath and Eli Manning carry with them whenever they are in town. They see the reunions and retired number ceremonies that take place from time to time, team to team. And they want that for themselves.

“Winning in New York is like nothing else,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “We’ve felt it. We’ve had our spurts here the last few years.”

Maybe for a week or so at a time. Maybe on Opening Night last season when Aaron Rodgers came charging out of the tunnel, the apex of Jets fandom in the past half century that quickly turned into yet another disappointment.

An actual playoff appearance from the Jets would dwarf even that spine-tingling moment. A playoff win or two would amp it up even more. A Super Bowl?

That’s the obvious and oft-stated goal of this team and, if they can stay healthy and perform at the level many expect they can, it’s a realistic one. But what’s really most inconceivable is what it would be like around these parts if it were to happen. If the lowly, laughable Jets, of all the teams, were to be the ones who snapped this historic New York hex? The region might burst.

Maybe there would even be some Yankee players who started to wear Jets caps to their media availabilities at spring training 2025… and not simply because they like the look of the lid.


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