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Victor Green: Next year not guaranteed for Jets

Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York

Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets reacts in the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts. (January 24, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

For the Jets and their fans, the glass-half-full approach to missing out on a trip to the Super Bowl is to look toward next year with great hope, optimism and aspirations.

Yet it isn't always that easy. Just ask Victor Green.

The memory of losing in the AFC Championship game 11 years ago haunts the former Jets safety every year around this time, as you would expect. But what's also hard for Green is thinking about how upbeat the Jets were for the next season, only to see it fall far short of their expectations.

As Jets fans might recall, the 1999 Jets season began with quarterback Vinny Testaverde suffering a season-ending injury in Week 1. And that was that.

"You have to take advantage of the opportunities when you get them," Green, 40, said in a telephone interview Monday. "We had the perfect nucleus to repeat and hopefully go to the Super Bowl. Because you just never know what's going to happen."

Some things, unfortunately, there's no way to plan for.

"They could lose their quarterback, or they could lose their best running back," Green said. "There's just so many variables. Or they could just not be good enough. Some of the other teams could be playing well. Or they may not get the breaks they got this year. You just never know what's going to happen."

Green was not intentionally attempting to throw cold water on the optimism Jets fans feel for next season and beyond. Even though he works for the Buccaneers these days as a pro scout, Green still very much considers himself a member of the Jets' extended family. On Sunday, for example, he rooted for them.

But as someone who played 10 years and never made it to the Super Bowl, reaching the AFC Championship Game only that one time, he wants everyone to understand just how rare an opportunity it is to play for a Super Bowl berth.

It's so rare that he said he still plays that AFC Championship Game in Denver through his mind, over and over, again and again, as if somehow on the 1,000th try the outcome will change.

"I know a lot of the guys, they will remember this, they will have hard feelings every year around this time," Green said. "They're going to remember how close they got to the Super Bowl. A lot of the guys probably won't even get back to this point. You've got to cherish it and go out there and play like it was your last game."

What does it feel like when he thinks of the 23-10 loss to the Broncos, a game in which the Jets led 10-0 in the third quarter? Green said it's like reminding yourself of the time you were dumped by a girlfriend in high school or college.

That defeated feeling, he said, never goes away.

"For anyone to say that they're just going to forget about it, they're lying to you," he said. "Because it means so much to you to get to that point, and then to just lose it like you did. It's one thing to get blown out, 30-0, and never have an opportunity to win the game. But to be so close, that's the worst part."

It's been 41 years since the Jets' last Super Bowl berth. So their fans clearly can understand Green's take on what was lost on Sunday.

"And next year is never promised," Green added, "as we all know."

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