Rex Ryan has all but huffed and puffed his way all over the city and splattered buckets of green paint across Manhattan to emphasize his point: the Jets are kings of New York.
And he's right: They are brash, have lots of flash and are the toast of this once-Big Blue town.
That fact won't sit well with the Giants or their fans, but as the 2011 season begins, anybody who doesn't think the Jets own this city isn't in touch with reality.
In the past, the Big Apple has always been a Giants town, even when Joe Namath in his fur coats and pantyhose was shocking the world in Super Bowl III. The Jets are starting their 52nd season, but they have always been considered the Giants' annoying little brother.
Right now, though, the Jets are the big brother.
"No question. But bring it on," Rex Ryan told the Daily News. "They've been saying it for years. Well, I'm saying it now. I said it the day I took this job. I didn't come here to be second fiddle to anybody, especially in my own town."
Ryan has led the Jets to the AFC Championship Game in his first two seasons, but lost in Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, respectively. Ryan has guaranteed - for the third consecutive year - that the Jets will bring home the Lombardi Trophy. If the Jets cash in on his guarantee and win Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis on Feb. 5, it will end the longest current championship drought in New York sports: 43 years and 24 days. Even the Rangers have won a championship since Namath ran off the field in Miami with his right index finger raised to the sky after the Jets beat the Colts on Jan. 12, 1969.
Lawrence Taylor once said that Jets fans are really Giants fans who couldn't get Big Blue season tickets. The Giants have always cast a huge shadow over the Jets, but the Jets have a younger and more vocal fanbase.
"I think the Jets have done a good job of branding themselves and stepping out of the shadows. They are in the beginning stages of the branding process," said former Giants linebacker Carl Banks, who once worked in the Jets front office when Bill Parcells was in charge. "I don't think either team can stake a claim to who owns the town. The town decides that. The town loves a winner."
And the hot team in the market is the team that wins.
"The Giants are the establishment team over the years," Banks said. "They've had a pattern of sustainable growth. It's not a team with a lot of changeover. They are pretty easy to identify and they've won. The Jets have done a great job the last few years of establishing their own identity and making people pay attention to who they are. People see them differently than the Giants.
"They have a little more sizzle. They have cheerleaders. Lights, camera, action. The Giants are the Giants. It's worked for them for a long time."
The Jets have been fighting for their entire existence to escape second-class status in their own city. That's over.
"There is this overall new spirit and confidence over there," said Peter O'Reilly, the NFL's vice president of fan strategy and marketing. "They are coming to life and not only on the field. The Jets are a progressive organization. They've done a lot to reach out to fans. They are active on social media. They certainly have taken advantage of their success and some of the star power they have. You've got two great franchises in New York. Both are strong."
Ryan embraced the Jets being the subject of the HBO series 'Hard Knocks.' Tom Coughlin would have probably set a up a barricade to keep the cameras away.
"With the new stadium, opportunities like 'Hard Knocks' to get national exposure and get their story and personality out there, they've bottled that in a pretty powerful way to appeal to core fans and casual fans as well," O'Reily said.
It hasn't always been easy being green.
Go back to the year the Jets won the Super Bowl. The Giants were 7-7, and in the early stages of the worst period in their history when whey would fail to make the playoffs from the 1964 season through 1980. Even with the Jets coming off their Super Bowl victory and the Giants just being a mediocre team, it was like the Jets were the champions of the world, but not New York.
The memory of Super Bowl III faded over the years and the Jets reign as the big brother was short-lived, even as the Giants continued to struggle.
Since Gang Green's lone title, the Giants have been to four Super Bowls, winning three of them. The Jets have been to four AFC Championship Games since 1969 and lost all four.
On the way home from their playoff victory last season in New England on Jan. 16 - the second greatest victory in team history - the Jets team plane detoured and flew by the Empire State Building, which was lit up in green. For Ryan, that was just the start.
"We got momentum when you look at the two years we've had since I've been here. And that's all I am going on," Ryan told The News. "We've gone to the playoffs the last two years, the Giants haven't. That's a good football team. There is no question they got a good football team. I want to have the best team in football, not just here in New York."
In his book, "Play Like You Mean It," he said, "When people ask me what it's like to share New York with the Giants, my response is always I am not sharing it with them - they are sharing it with me. Some people like to say the Giants are the big brother team and the Jets are the little brother team. I know it's going to (tick) off every Giants fan to hear this, but here you go: I really don't care.
"We came to New York City to be the best team in the NFL, not just the best team in New York City. And I have news for you: We are the better team. We're the big brother. ... It seems clear that right now we are the better team and we are going to remain the better team for the next 10 years."
Ten years is a long time, but the Jets' appeal in New York is growing. For now, it's just a local phenomenon. From April 1, 2010 to Aug. 30, 2011, the Giants ranked seventh and the Jets ninth in team merchandise sales, according to the NFL. The Steelers, Packers and Cowboys topped the list.
In jersey sales, Mark Sanchez ranked No. 15 and was the only Jet or Giant ranked in the top 25 from April 1, 2011 until Aug. 30, 2011. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the MVP of Super Bowl XLV, was No. 2. Even Patriots running back Danny Woodhead outsold all Giants and Jets except Sanchez.
That all changes if the Jets finally win another Super Bowl.
The Giants and Jets play at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 24. The real bragging rights argument won't truly be settled unless the Jets and Giants meet in a Super Bowl.
Until then, it's the Jets' town, and they are the team to beat. And as Ryan said in his book: "Whether you like it or not, those are the facts."
Read more: http://www.nydailyne...l#ixzz1XHrxKVRT