“Titans are bigger and stronger than Giants.”

Those were the words of owner Harry Wismer back in 1959 following the announcement of his new team in New York, participating in the upstart AFL. It was at that point that the battle for New York supremacy began.

Teams fought for the hearts, minds and wallets of New York sports fans, and while a rivalry on the field never really developed, there was certainly a commercial rivalry off the field. The Jets were the noisy neighbours, moving into the Giants territory and upsetting the apple cart.

But talk to any Jets or Giants fans now, and few would consider the other a real rival. For us, it’s all about the Bills, Dolphins and Patriots; for the Giants it’s all about the Eagles, Commanders and Cowboys.

When you play each other so infrequently, a rivalry is hard to sustain. But, despite it not being a heated rivalry, we always want to walk away from the game with bragging rights, and this year the Jets can use a victory against the Giants as a springboard for the second half of the season.

The first matchup between the teams came at Shea Stadium back in 1970 with the Giants running out 22-10 winners. With Joe Namath, Emerson Boozer and Matt Snell all missing the game, Jets fans might argue that the result comes with a heavy caveat.

That’s not to say there haven’t been marquee games in this “rivalry”.

For the final regular season game of the 1988 season, the Jets came in at 7-7-1 and with the playoffs out of the picture. The Giants on the other hand were 10-5, on a three game win streak and had the playoffs and the divisional title in their sights, needing a victory to secure both.

The Jets played the perfect spoiler that night. They sacked Giants QB Phil Simms 8 times on the way to a 27-21 win, knocking the Giants out of the playoff picture.

While the two teams met periodically over the years, you have to fast-forward all the way to 2011 to find the next marquee game that would be considered consistent with that of a rivalry.

Rex Ryan – who wasn’t shy in sharing his thoughts – wrote in his autobiography:

“When people ask me what it¹s like to share New York with the Giants, my response is always: I am not sharing it with them — they are sharing it with me.” And: “I have news for you: we are the better team. We’re the big brother. People might say they are the big, bad Giants, but we are not the same old Jets.”

“We are going to take over the town whether the Giants like it or not, so those fans on the fence that like both teams are going to be Jets fans in the end.”

For as much as Rex tried to stoke the flames, and for as difficult as it was to hear the stadium we played our games in referred to as “Giants Stadium”, the rivalry just simmered and never really exploded into the minds of the fans.

Even when Rex had the equipment staff tape up the Super Bowl logos of the Giants before the game, even after Rex and Brandon Jacobs exchanged words and almost more in the post-game environment, even with Fran Tarkenton tossing a ball at Larry Grantham and Earlie Thomas getting into a ruckus with Giants CB Kenny Parker, even with the Jets winning the first overtime sudden death contest in NFL history (1974) against the Giants remembered for Joe Namath hobbling into the endzone on his balky knees to score his first rushing touchdown since 1969, the Giants are just another team that we have to beat.

That being said: it’ll be nice to hold the bragging rights for at least a little while.

That 2011 matchup which resulted in a 29-14 Giants victory largely eliminated the Jets from the playoffs and the blue half of New York went on to win the Super Bowl by defeating the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady led Patriots.

So while the game might not constitute a ‘real rivalry’, in the way a divisional contest would, there’s evidence for how important the result can be, not just from a bragging rights perspective but in setting the team up for the rest of the season. As the Jets look to carry their pre-bye week momentum into the second ‘half’, a victory on Sunday would be sweet in more ways than one.