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Jets fans start to show their true colors

Maira Morales, 32, with twin sons Andrew and

Maira Morales, 32, with twin sons Andrew and Anthony, 6 at Dick's Sporting Goods in Melville. (January 16, 2010) Credit: Newsday/Nomaan Merchant

Tony Costa came into the Dick's Sporting Goods in Melville Saturday afternoon wearing a Jets hat, T-shirt and pullover. He said he was there to buy a non-Jets gift for a friend.

But Costa couldn't resist holding up a few jerseys.

After last weekend's resounding win over the Bengals, the Jets have eased the skepticism of many fans, who turned out to buy gear and plan to watch Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers with renewed hope.

Decades of heartbreak don't fade away quickly, though.

"I'm a realistic Jets fan," said Costa, 50, of Bethpage. "Do I think they win? Possibly."

Others believe the team's chances are strong, especially as rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez gains experience.

"The Jets are going to win," declared Eddie Varricchio, 44, of Dix Hills. "A lot's going to rely on how Sanchez plays."

Varricchio said he plans to watch the game at home with his daughter, Julia, 10. Julia is calmer than her father, who said he "gets into a frenzy" during every game.

His wife, Christine, was standing nearby. "She tolerates it," he said, as she shook her head.

Maira Morales of Hempstead is more forgiving. She went to Modell's in East Meadow to get her husband a Sanchez jersey as a birthday gift.

"I watch it once in a while," said Morales, 32. She gestured to her three sons, two of whom were trying on Jets caps that covered their eyes. "They talk about it all the time."

Meanwhile, at Dick's, Howard Elman thumbed through racks of Jets T-shirts in search of the perfect fit.

Elman, 43, of Oyster Bay Cove, is a season ticket-holder and a Jets fan since birth. He decided he had to see them play Sunday in person.

He and his son, Zachary, 16, planned to take a flight last night from Kennedy Airport to Los Angeles. From there, they'll join Elman's brother and drive to San Diego.

The Jets last won a Super Bowl when Elman was a youngster. "This is the first time in all these years that I feel like there's a change," he said.

That's why he ended up buying a gray T-shirt to wear to the game. "Everything is new now," Elman said.

His wife, Nancie, hopes it works. "For the well-being of my husband and his health, I just hope they'll win," she said.

"They keep going, I keep going," Howard Elman said.

His wife smiled thinly. "That ain't happening," she replied.

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