One of the more surprising aspects of sports is the fact that over time the teams themselves develop personalities. These personalities emerge play by play, week by week, on and off the field, transforming from mere suggestions into outright destiny. Even when players and coaches cycle out, the weight of history presses down on the newcomers, moulding them into the most [insert specific team here]-y versions of themselves. This happens mostly through osmosis. Stare long enough into, say, the Browns, and the Browns inevitably stare back at you.
Teams aren’t bound to their personality, of course. But they have to put in a hell of an effort to beat themselves when they’re also trying to beat everyone else, and mostly they don’t. The Seattle Mariners’ futile quest to transcend their own bizarre identity is so fascinating that we produced a four-hour documentary about it. Tottenham Hotspur remade their whole club over the course of the 2010s, but still suffer from the psychic wound inflicted by the combination of their own history and Sir Alex Ferguson’s ‘lads, it’s Tottenham.’ And then there are the New York Jets, who are Inescapably Associated With Butt Stuff.
It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that the Jets are at it again:
Yep, that’s a Butt Interception. The Jets, having produced the iconic Butt Fumble back in 2012, are now a mere Butt Turnover On Downs away from reaching an unprecedented Butt Takeaway Trifecta. I’m not entirely sure how that would work, but I know narrative inevitability when I see it and I can’t wait to see what the Jets conjure up.
The pick itself is impressive. We’re used to thinking of athletes, especially NFL players, as outstanding physical specimens. Marcus Maye is 6′0″ and weighs 211 lb, possessing the sort of speed and strength that make most of the rest of us look like tiny children. But athleticism alone not enough to make this kind of play. Even athleticism plus the smarts and experience to get to the pass won’t do it. To have the wherewithal to corral a flying ball with your own ass requires exquisite focus and frenzied improvisation, which can only come from hundreds of hours of preparation. Maye’s raw concentration here is frightening.
Sure, it’s slightly un-Jets to be the beneficiaries of Butt Stuff rather than the victims, but as this play came while they were down 24-0 and began a drive which culminated in a 28-yard sack, everything seems to have balanced out. And no, this was not the first Butt Pick we’ve ever come across — Marcus Lattimore earned one for the Saints in 2018 — but the Jets are a special case, and that should be celebrated.
Incidentally, if you’ve forgotten just how the Butt Fumble went down, we’ve got you covered: