Sports of The Times
On Road to Super Bowl, Sprinkle Some Eye of Newt.
Observe the angst of Jets fans. They are hopeful. They are fearful. More fearful than hopeful.
Mark Williamson staged an exorcism.
It is not clear exactly what he was exorcising, but some Jets fans have convinced themselves that the team is caught up in some curse, which sounds a little grandiose to me.
I think there are only so many curses to go around. I am perfectly willing to believe the Red Sox labored under a curse after letting Babe Ruth go to the Yankees for the 1920 season. It is quite likely that the Nets have been fated to lose in a ghastly swamp since ditching Julius Erving. The Cubs? That billy goat hex always sounded a little spurious to me.
But the Jets — excuse me if I offend anybody — just seem to be a generally mediocre team to which bad things happen from time to time. Then one January, there was Joe Namath.
Whatever it was, or is, that ails the Jets, Williamson was willing to do something about it. Williamson is a freelance video producer who happened to be born into a Jets family. As he said on Friday, if he had been born into a Giants family, he would have witnessed three — count ’em, three — Super Bowl championships in his 37 years.
Instead, at an early age, he witnessed the nimble Jets playing in Miami in 1982, when a sudden bog materialized in the Orange Bowl, and Richard Todd threw an interception to A.J. Duhe. To this day, if somebody in the Williamson family wants to feel particularly miserable, he or she just mutters A. J. Duhe.
This year, Williamson became an activist when the Jets hit a slump in midseason. He engaged the services of a witch named Lexa Roséan, who lives in Manhattan and says her coven of witches “did something” for the Mets in October 1986. Something to do with the withered ankles of Bill Buckner? She didn’t say.
Her father played some football back in Florida, Roséan claimed; therefore, she knows a bit about that sport. “Football is a much cleaner sport than baseball,” she said Friday. “Baseball has all kinds of weird superstitions.” Right. Just ask Moises Alou, still psychically standing down the left-field line in Wrigley Field, waiting to catch a long foul fly.
When Williamson had a consultation with Roséan, he said something about a vague Jets curse.
“Of course, that is open to interpretation,” Roséan said. “But the Jets were definitely blocked. As witches say, we had to uncross their path.”
She proposed that Williamson stage the ritual under a full harvest moon in early October — at a crossroads — so he chose the banks of the East River near his home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A brisk wind, however, blew out the candles. Can’t exorcise 40 years of no Super Bowl without candles.
This time, Williamson selected the crossroads of the world — Times Square in Manhattan. There are some of us who think Times Square needs its own exorcism of the chain stores and suburban-mall blandness, and a return of our traditional sleaze, but that is another story.
The ritual took place at about 6 p.m. Dec. 3, a day after the full cold moon, and hours before the Jets’ game against Buffalo in Toronto.
“We wanted to send the love,” Williamson said.
Roséan said the ritual was “pretty straightforward” to please the god Legba, or Elegua, as he is variably known. A petition. A chant. Candles. Three coins. And three mint candies, preferably red, but since this was for the Jets, Roséan proposed using green-and-white mints, the team colors.
Roséan was unable to attend the ritual because she had the flu. Who knew witches get the flu? Anyway, Williamson did what he was told, twirled around a bit, received hugs from passing brothers and sisters, dropped the coins, dropped the mints.
That night, the Jets beat the Bills, and they have since lost once and won four, two of them gifts from the gods — or rather from opposing coaches who did not field their best teams.
Wondering what the Jets’ trouble was over the last four decades, Williamson and Roséan hit on the absence of a strong male figure, ever since Namath’s knees gave out. Lately, they have decided that Rex Ryan, the beefy, wisecracking head coach, is the charismatic man the Jets have been lacking.
“There is one side effect,” Roséan said of the winning streak.
I never miss the opportunity to play straight man to a witch.
“I’ve fallen in love with the Jets,” she announced, having watched two recent victories. She plans to watch somewhere on Sunday but cautioned Jets fans not to leave it up to the candles and the coins and the mints.
“As a witch, I often counsel people, ‘You are the magic,’ ” she said, adding, “That last little ingredient.”
Williamson is preparing for Sunday, practicing the Jets’ chant: “J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!”
It must be fun to be a fan. Or miserable. Or both.