Jets-Giants fanning the flames of rivalry

Rex Ryan.

The shots were fired this past April and they came via hardcover.

In his autobiography “Play Like You Mean It” released this past spring, Jets head coach Rex Ryan made no secret about his thoughts concerning the New York Giants.

“We are the better team. We’re the big brother,” Ryan wrote of the Giants.

Now, they will play out Saturday night when the Giants host the Jets in each team’s third game this preseason.

Ryan’s derogatory remarks were a clear shot at a team that has long dominated the Jets in attendance, media attention, ratings and even success. In the battle for New York, the Giants have never lagged behind the Jets.

But “big brother” is playing in daddy’s house, at least according to Giants defensive end Justin Tuck. The Giants defensive end, who took shots at Ryan’s commentary about the Giants last spring, said that despite the New Meadowlands Stadium’s naming rights being purchased by MetLife this past week, that it will always go by the name of the old stadium.

“I’m glad that MetLife came forward as a sponsor, but to me it will always be Giants Stadium,” Tuck said Wednesday.

And that goes to the heart of the matter. The Jets are 35 years the junior of the Giants, have just one Super Bowl win compared to the Giants three and, as Tuck reminded everyone, the Jets played the last 26 years in a place called Giants Stadium. It was such a slight to the Jets that all official communications from the team referred to the stadium simply as “The Meadowlands.”

The Jets most visible fan, “Fireman Ed,” went so far as to say that hearing the Jets’ home referred to as Giants Stadium “makes me sick.”

While some of the air might be taken out of the rivalry given the fact that these two teams meet on Christmas Eve in a regular season game, there is still plenty on the line for both the Giants and the Jets. Even though the Jets are considered the visiting team for this game, Jets linebacker Bart Scott said “You’ve got two home teams, it’s bragging rights for your fans.”

And while there was no “Can’t wait” message from Scott, his intensity was clear.

“You want to leave a lasting message,” Scott said.

Another factor that heightens the intensity this time around is that this is the third preseason game of the year for both games, a point at which teams around the league traditionally play their starters well into the third quarter. Last year, the Jets and Giants opened the preseason against each other, christening their new shared stadium. In that game, a 31-16 win by the Giants, the Jets knocked quarterback Eli Manning out of the game.

A bloodied and bruised Manning got his helmet knocked off in the second quarter and his legs wobbled as he tried to stand up.

“There’s always buzz, and that’s a good thing,” Manning said. “It’s the third preseason game, the one where the starters play the longest, but we’re still trying to go out there and execute and have a great game plan.”

The irony is that the Giants are talking far more about buzz and playing their inner-city rivals than the Jets. With the Jets’ success over the past two years, it may be the Giants and not the Jets with something to prove on Saturday night.

When asked if he views the Patriots as bigger rivals then the Giants, Ryan acknowledged that in the grand scheme of things, New England is “absolutely” the bigger rival. But that still doesn’t mean it won’t be as sweet to show the Giants who is “Big Brother.”

“If you’re going to pick a team out just by the location, your biggest NFC rival would be the Giants,” Ryan said.”That goes without saying. I’m not going to discount that at all.”

Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


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