Much to the chagrin of most of their fans, the New York Jets picked the worst possible time to become the National Football League’s hottest team. Last Sunday’s 23-16 win over the Cleveland Browns (who were missing most of their receivers because of Covid-19 protocols), coming a week after Gang Green upset the Los Angeles Rams 23-20, means the Jets will not have the first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. That dubious honor will go to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who, much to the consternation of Jets fans, have refused not to lose this season.

In most years there are a number of college players who could be the top choice in the NFL Draft but that won’t be the case for 2021, when Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence is being spoken about with the same “can’t miss” tag that both Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck had when they were finishing their college careers.

It’s hard to blame Jets fans for feeling somewhat bitter based on what they have seen from their current quarterback, Sam Darnold. Granted, Darnold has had little talent around him in terms of both blocking and receiving, but he has shown little to give anyone hope he will be an elite QB in the NFL.

The Jets’ second win of the 2020 season means their 1996 squad, which finished 1-15, remains the all-time worst in Gang Green history. Head coach Adam Gase, who will probably be dismissed shortly after Sunday’s game, can at least take solace that Rich Kotite will remain the gold standard for bad Jets head coaches.

The Jets’ two wins remove a tantalizing subplot for this Sunday’s Jets-Patriots game in Foxboro, Mass. This is the first time in a dozen years the Pats won’t be going to the NFL playoffs. There was some speculation Pats head coach Bill Belichick might emulate the storyline of “The Producers” and let the Jets win the game if it meant keeping Lawrence from becoming a part of the AFC East for years to come. Frankly, you couldn’t blame Belichick for wanting to place long-term strategy ahead of winning a meaningless year-end game. Now that he doesn’t have that hanging over his head, expect Belichick to go all out to win this game just to remind the Jets he still owns them.

Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro, 81, died from cancer on Sunday. Niekro was the greatest knuckleball thrower ever. Just as important, he was very affable.

I spoke with him when he was pitching for the Atlanta Braves in 1983. He laughed when I told him I used to throw knuckleballs in stickball games. He took the time to work with me on my grip in case I ever had to pitch in a schoolyard again.

See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.

Life and style

Everyone can’t wait for 2020 to end and the various television networks expect record ratings even though the public will not be allowed into Times Square this year. Ozone Park native and 1980s hit-maker Cyndi Lauper will be performing on ABC’s “New Year’s Rocking Eve with Ryan Seacrest.” Also understandably getting a starring role will be Gloria Gaynor who is best remembered for the best-selling hit of 1979, the iconic “I Will Survive.”

For those who want an early jump on the ball drop or are fearful they may fall asleep before midnight strikes, a real estate management firm, Jamestown, is sponsoring a virtual New Year’s Eve in Times Square experience (vnye.com) on the internet.

The pandemic has made television more important than ever. Broadcast television networks have lost luster over the years to both cable rivals and streaming services but they still have the biggest audience reach. Two broadcast network shows that have promise are Fox’s “Call Me Kat” and NBC’s “Mr. Mayor.”

“Call Me Kat” stars Mayim Bialik as a 39-year-old single woman who has given up a career in academia to open a cat café in her hometown of Louisville, Ky. The influence of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” is evident with Bialik and her ensemble, which includes Broadway star Cheyenne Jackson and perennial scene stealer Leslie Jordan. It debuts Sunday on Fox.

Ted Danson returns to television as a New York native who is now the mayor of Los Angeles in “Mr. Mayor.” Co-starring with Danson are acclaimed actress Holly Hunter and former “Saturday Night Live” player Bobby Moynihan. “Mr. Mayor” airs next Thursday on NBC as well as the following day on the Peacock streaming service.

I was saddened to learn of the death of guitarist Leslie Weinstein, better known professionally as Leslie West. West is best known for his work in the rock band Mountain, which had a huge hit in 1970 with “Mississippi Queen.” Like Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Burt Bacharach and most of the Ramones, West was an alumnus of Forest Hills High School.

A common New Year’s resolution is to eat healthier. One way to do just that is to use extra virgin olive oil as a replacement for butter and most dressings. A good option is Chef Pano Greek Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (chefpano.com).

Chef Pano is real chef and Atlanta restaurateur Pano Karatassos. Another specialty of his is Greek Wild Thyme Honey, which is helpful if you are battling winter sore throats and chest congestion.

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