About a year ago, the Jets and Cowboys were playing on Thanksgiving, and that meant a day full of Ryan brothers on national TV. Ordinarily this would be a good thing, but not last Thanksgiving. That day, Rob's Cowboys defense got torched by RG3 and the Redskins for 38 points and 437 yards of offense. The Redskins were up 28-3 by halftime. Whatever Rob Ryan was doing to coach that defense, it wasn't working.
A few hours later it was time for the Patriots-Jets in prime time, and a miserable Jets season officially hit rock bottom. The butt fumble will live forever, obviously, but the Jets were a disaster on every front. They gave up 475 yards of offense. The Patriots were up 35-3 by halftime. And the game basically turned into a nationally televised reminder that the Jets were the most ridiculous franchise in football.
A few days before Christmas 2006, having just arrived home in Atlanta for my break between college quarters, I was driving near the Georgia Dome when I spotted a new arrival in the neighborhood — an odd, trailer-like setup erected in a parking lot. Having grown up around the area, whatever it was seemed out of the ordinary, so I hit a U-turn and went to check it out. In that parking lot sat an "Authentic Louisiana-Style" restaurant operating almost as a food truck. About 15 months had passed since Hurricane Katrina, but this was my first real-life experience with what had previously just been data regarding the sheer amount of New Orleanians that had migrated to cities like Houston and Atlanta. I looked at the establishment and felt good. To know that someone could make a life in my city, especially after such a horrible disaster, was a beautiful thing.
The following year, I remember watching the Saints-Falcons game on Monday Night Football in the Georgia Dome. Fully understanding that there was a sizable New Orleans population in the city that had no plans of going back home, I was curious to see how the Dome would look. The answer — very black-and-gold. It was nauseating. While I felt it bubbling in 2006, especially with our unfortunate "damned if you win, damned if you lose" opportunity to play the Saints in the first game back in the Superdome, it was at this point that I knew a real rivalry was no longer just brewing.