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Warner Home Video presents
"I think the best way to describe a Jets fan is cautiously pessimistic."
DVD ReviewPart of being a Jets fan is forever feeling like Fredo Corleone, that your nobody's favorite and that you've always been passed over. It's bad enough that the team is second fiddle in its own town; it's even second fiddle in its own house, playing in a stadium that bears the name of another NFL franchise. The occasional flashes of brilliance feel fine after years of slogging through losses, but there's always the sense that the Jets will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And insult to injury, certainly, was Bill Belichik resigning after a couple of minutes as the H.C. of the N.Y.J., only to take the head job in New England and start filling his cabinet with Super Bowl rings.
The producers of this DVD set are to be commended, then, for not trying to sugar coat the legacy of the Jets, and for incorporating fans' continuing disappointment with the team, without which this wouldn't in fact be a complete history. Obviously things peaked early for the franchise, with the Namath guarantee and the victory over the Colts in Super Bowl III—but that was before my time, and almost forty years ago now, and sometimes it feels like it's been all downhill since then. If Fitzgerald came back as Jets fan, he'd have a new application for his dictum that there are no second acts in American lives.
This well-produced official NFL project does well to point up the good times, while not avoiding the bad. 1969 is the gold standard, certainly, and after that there's the 1998 AFC Championship Game loss to Denver, and various playoff appearances and sputterings over the decades. The film traces the origins of the franchise, one of the AFL startup teams, first known as the Titans; and the team's sole Super Bowl victory, as any football fan knows, was the pivotal event in securing the AFL/NFL merger. We get toured through some of the best players to lace 'em up for Gang Green—Namath is the ultimate Jet, but it's nice to look back on the promise (often unfulfilled) of such Jet hopefuls as Al Toon, Keyshawn Johnson, Ken O'Brien, Richard Todd (Todd is God), and a late-career Vinny Testaverde.
And given the team's often ignominious history, frequently part of this documentary plays out as a horror movie. The stench of the Rich Kotite 1-15 campaign lingers still in the Meadowlands, and even as a Jets fan, I admit to finding Mark Gastineau and the New York Sack Exchange, with their obnoxious and graceless sack dances, to be kind of sickening. The film is full of clips, interviews with former Jets players and brass (including current owner Woody Johnson), and a couple of local sports radio guys, like Joe Benigno and Jody McDonald, who have thrown objectivity to the winds (as has your faithful DVD reviewer), and brought themselves in for decades of heartache. But this DVD gets released just as pre-season games begin, and we've got the best young coach in the league and a roster full of talent, so as long as it's still August, I'm thinking Super Bowl.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+
Image Transfer Review: An unremarkable transfer, but certainly an adequate one—a few scratches here and there, on the archival footage especially.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: The crackle of game day gives this some flavor, and makes me rather forgiving about the occasional compromised quality of the audio transfer.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Packaging: 2 disc slip case
Extras Review: This two-disc set brims with more info and looks back at the good times, and some more at the not-so-good ones. The feature is on the first DVD, which also includes: a profile (21m:20s) produced in 2005 of recently retired running back Curtis Martin, the paragon of professionalism; and a 2003 piece (20m:53s) on former coach Herman Edwards. (Now that he's packed up for Kansas City, I will admit that his rah rah stuff seems saccharine and juvenile, though I bought most of it at the time.) Overachieving wide receiver Wayne Chrebet is the subject of a brief 1997 piece (05m:58s), and there are brief looks at the 1969 Jets/Giants game in the Yale Bowl (2m:01s); the 1972 rematch of Namath and Johnny Unitas (1m:29s), and the ongoing Jets/Dolphins blood feud (4m:50s). A strange little documentary (5m:29s) solicits celebrity memories of Super Bowl III, and participating are Robert Wuhl, John Grisham, Jim Palmer, Meat Loaf, Ron Howard, and professional Buffalo Bills fan Tim Russert. And Joe and the Magic Bean (5m:19s) is a clumsy fairy tale produced in 1971 about the Jets quarterback.
The centerpiece of the second disc is another NFL production commemorating the Jets' sole championship: Greatest Games: Super Bowl III (01h:06m:21s) was produced in 1996, and features lots of highlights, reminiscences, and bluster. You'll get more of the same in the highlight film (23m:46s) from the 1968 season, and a slightly more tempered flavor from the 1998 season highlight package (37m:01s). An improbable 2000 victory over Miami is profiled in The Midnight Miracle (19m:30s), and a look at the men who have coached the Jets (15m:31s) from Sammy Baugh to Eric Mangini emphasizes the likes of Bill Parcells and of course Weeb Eubank, while begrudgingly discussing the tenures of such ignominious figures in Jets history as Lou Holtz, Joe Walton and Al Groh.
Extras Grade: B+
Final CommentsA good, thorough history of the franchise, and with lots and lots of bonus material. Like any self-respecting Jets fan, though, I have to admit that I wish there were many more highlights that could have been included in this set. J-E-T-S Jets Jets JETS!
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