Football and The Troubled State of New York

Colin McGee ‘22

On December 24, 2011, The New York Giants and New York Jets played against each other with huge playoff implications on the line for both sides. Both teams needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The New York Jets were coming off back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship Game but falling short on the doorstep of the Super Bowl both times. The New York Giants took this 29-14 victory en route to a championship just a month and a half later in Super Bowl XLVI over the New England Patriots.

American football has grown into the most popular sport in the United States. New York is the biggest city, not only in the United States but in the world. However, approaching ten years to the day in which Eli Manning and company led the Giants to their fourth Super Bowl victory, the Giants and Jets have combined for just one playoff appearance in the past decade.

This appalling number is a testament to how tough it has been for Giants and Jets fans to watch their team. The 2021 season was no different, as both teams finished with a 4-13 record. As a result of the records and trades the teams have made, the Giants and Jets own four of the top ten picks in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft.

The 2021 New York Giants came into the season with high expectations. The Giants spent big on players in free agency and expected to contend for a playoff spot. However, the season turned into a disaster, players got injured, and the play became underwhelming. Although the Giants’ defense stayed a solid unit, the offense remained one of the worst units in the league. As a result of the season, head coach Joe Judge was fired, and general manager Dave Gettleman retired.

After winning the Super Bowl in 2012, the Giants’ only playoff appearance came in 2016, where they lost in the first round to the Green Bay Packers 38-13. In the seasons following the Super Bowl, Eli Manning often had to make it work with weak supporting casts. Following his retirement in 2020, quarterback Daniel Jones has often had difficulties being the face of the Giants franchise. On January 22, the Giants hired Joe Schoen as the next general manager. Schoen will be tasked with trying to turn this proud franchise around.

The New York Jets 2021 season was the first for both rookie head coach Robert Saleh and rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. Robert Saleh came from the San Francisco 49ers, where he was a highly regarded defensive coordinator. Wilson, the #2 pick in last April’s draft, started his rookie campaign slowly but started to improve as the season progressed. The development of Wilson is crucial to the Jets’ future.


To say the last ten years for the Jets have been rough would be an understatement. They own the longest playoff drought in the NFL of 11 seasons and counting. The closest they came was in 2015 when they narrowly missed the playoffs with a 10-6 record. The common theme of these Jets teams is that they have not been able to find a franchise quarterback. Attempts of drafting one, such as Geno Smith in 2013 and Sam Darnold in 2018, have not worked out. It is yet to be determined if Saleh and Wilson can turn the team around. Next year will go a long way in finding that answer.

In comparison to the two New York teams, the two Los Angeles teams are in far superior situations. Both the Rams and Chargers appear to be contenders for years to come. They serve as a testament to how both the Giants and Jets can be successful. After all the bad football that has occurred in the past decade, it seems easy to think of that December 2011 contest as a distant memory. If the New York Giants and New York Jets fix their situations, we may be able to see meaningful football being played in MetLife Stadium once again.