A New York Jets fan in King Arthur’s Court

INDIANAPOLIS — I didn’t think anything could top the angst of the Super Bowl four years ago, with the Patriots and the Giants meeting for all the marbles. As a Jets fan, it was my nightmare. Someone had to win. All I had to hang my hat on was that someone was going to lose.

And now, it’s here again. Except this time, so am I.

You’re going to read a lot about the Giants’ arrival in Indianapolis in the coming hours. I guarantee you it was smoother for them than it was for me.

Sunday morning
My first sight upon walking into Los Angeles International Airport was a 55-year-old woman wearing a Victor Cruz jersey. Seriously? I can’t even get on a plane without seeing this. There actually was another woman in a Cruz jersey, too, but it was a Nelson Cruz jersey (which didn’t make my Angels fan friend, Adam Rank, very happy). This was a bad harbinger.

Sunday afternoon
We changed planes in Atlanta, where a woman was very loudly talking about Peyton Manning and how he should never play again because his kids could grow up without a father if he’s hurt again. She seemed like she wanted someone to engage her, so I bit. I ignored the fact that this wasn’t Lawrence Taylor in “Any Given Sunday,” where doctors turn the other way and let guys play for a sack bonus. Instead, I went the cheerful route.

“Hey, Peyton’s going to be fine, and he’s going to the Jets and we’re going to win the Super Bowl next year.” It’s my inner Rex Ryan.

What did she do? She stared at me like I just stole her car and responded, “But what if he gets hit and can’t raise his kids anymore?”

I stopped for a hot dog while I’m waited for my connecting flight. Behind me in line were four twenty-somethings in Patriots gear. One of them said they should all get hot dogs like Mark Sanchez.

Sunday night
We landed in Indianapolis and headed to the hotel. Everything I saw either had Tom Brady or Eli Manning‘s picture on it. Huge tapestries of action shots. The team names splattered on every spot of wall that’s uncovered.

The person who checked me in asked who I’m rooting for. As we walked to dinner, I heard chants of “G-Men, G-Men, G-Men” coming from not too far away. We get to the restaurant, just in time for me to see Miami’s Brandon Marshall catch his fourth touchdown pass of the Pro Bowl. I say to myself at least I won’t have to worry about the Dolphins anymore on this trip. I was wrong.

Later Sunday night
Where did we go after dinner to wind down from a long day of travel and to talk shop? Shula’s Steak House, of course.

We dined under the watchful eye of commemorative footballs from every win of the Dolphins’ undefeated 1972 season. I wondered how much money it would take for me to buy the balls with the final scores against the Jets on them so I could punt them into a vacant lot. But I don’t think that would go over well.

Photos of Dolphins legends and plays look on throughout the restaurant — even the famous helicopter play against the Jets, which Elliot Harrison dragged me to go see. Yes, I’ve seen it. A thousand times. Ken Schroy and Kirk Springs turning Nat Moore around. Yes, he made the catch. I reminded Elliot that the Jets won the game, but he left before I could go into details, his job finished.

Finally, I went up to my room to unpack and hit the sheets. I opened my curtains to a pretty nice view of the city, with a couple of industrial buildings in the forefront. Not so bad! As I lay down, it hit me that some of the lights surrounding the area had both red and blue lights on them.

Welcome to Indianapolis.

Jason Smith writes fantasy and other pith daily for NFL.com. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.

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