Published February 01, 2014
Last week, United Airlines tweeted out that “The Broncos have landed in New York in advance of the #BigGame.”
Except that Newark Liberty Airport, where they landed, is located in New Jersey.
That Big Game Sunday? It was played in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The Broncos and the Seahawks met at MetLife Stadium, the home of both the New York Giants and the New York Jets – who play every single home game in New Jersey.
Eli Manning of the New York Giants lives in Hoboken, on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.
Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets lives in Bedminster, New Jersey, even further away from the city that his team purportedly represents.
There is, simply put, nothing New York about either of these purportedly New York teams.
In fact, the only real professional football team playing in New York is located in Buffalo – a short drive from the Canadian border.
Fewer states have had to face the constant opprobrium of New Jersey, which stretches back to when Benjamin Franklin disparaged the state as “a keg tapped at both ends” between New York and Philadelphia.
New Jersey is the Soprano State.
It is mocked for its accents, its Superfund sites, its Hoffa burial sites and for Nicole “Snookie” Polizzi, (the pride of Marlborough, New York).
But New Jersey has the personality, grit and perseverance of someone long past caring about impressing the critics.
The literature of Fitzgerald, with its emphasis on the outsider trying to break into a gilded world, is informed by his time at Princeton.
The music of Springsteen, with its depictions of a hardscrabble existence, is emblematic of a state that has had to struggle to gain the respect of its neighbors.
It is a place of both tremendous beauty and blight, whose beaches have inspired songs and movies, whose universities have attracted intellectuals from Einstein to Oppenheimer, whose Pinelands have spawned myths of the devil living in their midst.
It is a place of urban renewal and decay, of agricultural abundance and industrial development.
But it is also a place that has suffered from being at the mercy of the New York and Philadelphia media markets, which rarely focus on New Jersey – unless New Jersey gives the media what the media demands in exchange for being noticed: the most salacious political stories to consistently emanate from any one state, year in and year out.
New York may have governors who resign after being caught with hookers.
South Carolina may have governors who resign for hiking imaginary Appalachian trails with South American mistresses.
Illinois may have governors who resign for self-enrichment.
But even here, New Jersey delivers better drama than any state in the land: governors who resign for having same-sex extramarital affairs with unqualified political aides.
Governors who urge others “to take the bat out” on 78-year-old grandmothers.
Legislators who fake their own drowning deaths to avoid serving prison sentences for corruption.
New Jersey is many things, but it is never bland.
This past weekend, most Super Bowl events took place in New York.
But the Big Game was being played in New Jersey, which deserves more respect than its professional football teams, their owners and the media are giving it.