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Training camp is a season of hope for Jets fans

December 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams (92) during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. The Jets defeated the 49ers 23-17 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
December 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams (92) during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. The Jets defeated the 49ers 23-17 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
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As training camp is just around the corner, this season is one of hope for many fans of the New York Jets.

Traditionally, training camp is a season of hope for fans of the New York Jets. New free agents excite fans as to their possible contributions in the year ahead. New young talent from the past draft is anxiously awaited to see perform by fans. Fans also get fired up to see development from the second year players. For many years it is the bright spot of the year for those of us who have thick enough skin to remain loyal to the team we all proclaim to love. There is always for hope for Jets fans.

This year, however, that enthusiasm and hope seem to be absent in many of the fan base. Predictions from the “analysts” and the “experts” in the sports media business have been pretty much been gloom and doom for the team this year. As a result, many fans are expecting the worst from the season. Predictions of 0-16 and 1-15 are abundant, and the claims that the team is out to “tank” the season are prevalent.

All of this negativity surrounding the team this year started me thinking of my own experiences with being a Jets fan. For me it started when I was ten years old, a new football team set up home in the Polo Grounds, and the year was 1961. Amazingly, that is 56 years ago, and I’m still here! Overall, it hasn’t been easy, the Jets have both thrilled and disappointed over the years. The team itself holds a 392-468- 8 regular season record, including the three years they were known as the Titans. They’ve posted a 12-13 postseason record in the same time period.

Of course the highlight of every Jets fan old enough to remember it, was their victory in Super Bowl III. The team’s worst record and the one Jets fans would like to forget is a 1-15 record in 1996 under then head coach Rich Kotite. In between and since, Jets fans have been on a roller coaster ride. They’ve endure a lot of disappointment through the years, so I totally understand the frustrations being voiced this year.

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I however, still approach training camp like I did when I was 10 years old and rooting for the Titans. Some have told me I’m overly optimistic, others have told me I’m just plain crazy. Whichever it is, I still get “rejuvenated” as a fan each spring. This year is no different for me. I’m excited to see camp get underway and anxious to see what this team can do in the summer.

In a conversation with some of my long term friends recently, I was asked where I was finding hope this year.

I told them the same thing I say every year, “It’s the Jets, my team, good or bad, I’m looking forward to Jet football. It’s been too long of an offseason not to be” My friends had a good laugh and pointed out the disappointment I was building myself up for.

There are some things that continue to give me hope, and again this year is no different than many others I’ve experienced through the years. I’m hoping that new offensive coordinator John Morton can install a system that young Jets players can grasp and develop in. I’m hoping Pro Football Hall of Famer Kevin Greene can bring experience and motivation to a young, talented group of outside linebackers. For me, that’s exciting stuff as a Jets fan. Need more?

I’m hoping that one of our quarterbacks can step up and produce in a potentially dangerous offense. I’m hoping young players like Juston BurrisBrandon Shell, and Darron Lee can build on their success from a year ago. I’m hoping that this year’s group of draftees can develop over the course of the summer and work themselves into productive roles in the year ahead.

If you’re looking for guarantees that any of that hope will develop into reality, I have none for you. I have hopes that it will, however. If there is anything I’ve learned over the course of a half of a century being a Jets fan, it’s that there is always hope. Nothing appears as dark and hopeless as many would have you believe. I guess, maybe, that annual hope at the beginning of training camp has allowed me to remain faithful for so long.

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I’m looking forward to the 2017 training camp for the Jets. My biggest hope is that it’s an improvement over the previous year. Training camp will be telling on how our beloved Jets will perform this year, I’m hoping for a great camp. Join me?

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