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NFL

Jets went from Super Bowl contenders to laughingstock

| Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, 9:04 p.m.
In this Aug. 10, 2012, photo, New York Jets quarterbacks (from left) Greg McElroy, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow watch from the sidelines during the first half of a preseason game against the Bengals in Cincinnati. (AP)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — From nearly Super to just plain stupefying.

That is what the New York Jets have become in a span of two NFL seasons.

From a botched trade for Tim Tebow before the season to a botched snap by Mark Sanchez that ended the season, Rex Ryan's bunch became a dysfunctional mess with no clear solution in sight.

The Jets are considered by many a laughingstock, one big circus that ranks up there with the Bronx Zoo Yankees, the Isiah Thomas Knicks and the late Al Davis' Raiders. At least those Yankees won a few World Series titles, and the Raiders took home three Super Bowl trophies despite all the madness.

Woody Johnson's flawed franchise could be headed for a total teardown before things get better.

“Being in this market for six years, I've seen the ups and downs,” defensive lineman Mike DeVito said. “You get used to it after a while. You see the good stuff and the bad stuff.”

Lately, it's been all bad.

The Jets are a team whose owner craves attention and gets it — always for the wrong reasons, it seems.

Two years ago, the Jets were a win away from the Super Bowl, just as they were the previous year. Both times, they fell just short of ending the drought that began after Joe Namath delivered on his guarantee in 1969 for the franchise's first and only title.

But there was hope.

Ryan was a brash and bold coach who didn't back down from anyone and said what was on his mind, predicting Super Bowl wins before the season even started, a refreshing departure from the tight-lipped three-year tenure of Eric Mangini. He had a dominant defense, led by All-Pro Darrelle Revis, and a young, promising quarterback in Sanchez.

Those positive feelings all seem like a distant memory as the Jets (6-8) play out the last two games of the season and head into a winter of uncertainty with a second straight year out of the playoffs.

Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum don't know for sure if they'll be back beyond the final game of the season.

Tebow will be out the door less than a year after coming to New York and saying he's “excited to be a Jet.” Sanchez could be a goner, too, although his hefty contract could keep him put — but as the former face of the franchise instead of the next Namath.

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