I know the NFL bounty story is the biggest news of the day. My reaction when I first heard about the suspension for New Orleans coach Sean Peyton – one year, no pay – was to drive off the road. Not really, but I wavered some.
But the NFL story I want to write about today is Tim Tebow and the New York Jets. I’m flabbergasted that the Jets are bringing Tebow to the league’s biggest media circus and putting the straight-laced quarterback with Rex Ryan, who is straight out of a Marty Scorsese movie.
That’s not the biggest problem I see with this move, though.
Didn’t the Jets just hand the keys to the quarterback kingdom to Mark Sanchez for three more years? Wasn’t there a player – or players – who anonymously expressed their feelings that Sanchez was not an effective quarterback or leader for the Jets after they failed to make the playoffs last season? Isn’t the potential for a meltdown high?
I sure hope so. Because while I think this is a terrible move by the Jets, and an unfortunate landing spot for good-guy Tebow, it has all the makings of a soap opera. And who doesn’t love a good soap opera?
Sanchez led New York to the AFC playoffs during his first two seasons, but that wasn’t enough for some Jets fans. He regressed some last season, when Jets management failed to put as many offensive weapons around him. And just when we thought the Jets and Sanchez might be parting ways, New York went and signed him to a three-year contract extension.
True, there is no good back-up plan for Sanchez. Mark Brunell is 41 and washed up. Drew Stanton is much younger, but also washed up. So the Jets were in the market for a back-up to Sanchez.
He doesn’t strike me as a back-up quarterback, no matter how badly so many want to put him in that role. He’s either a starting quarterback or a football hybrid, and probably more of a football hybrid than anything. I could imagine a really innovative coach – and Ryan sure believes he is one – could implement four or five plays a game in which Tebow could be effective.
But if the Jets are through pursuing a true back-up quarterback for Sanchez, I think they’re making a mistake. I would have thought Ryan and Co., would have thought this was perhaps the most important season in the development of Sanchez, who has great tools but hasn’t yet mastered the position.
Now, with Tebow around, there’s no room for Sanchez to wiggle around in. If he plays poorly, that loud and surly Jets fan base will start pounding their fists for Tebow, even though most are probably aware he’s not really the answer.
I feel badly for Tebow. He was somewhat sheltered in Denver, but still became the biggest story of the 2011 NFL season. There is no shelter in New York. The media crush will be unlike anything he has ever seen.
I feel even more badly for Sanchez, who was probably riding a confidence high just a few days ago after the contract extension. I think the future for Sanchez is cloudy; there’s a chance he’ll become a star, but an equal chance he’ll be a bust. The Jets didn’t help him with the move to bring in Tebow, that’s for sure. Both quarterbacks will be under a too-intense spotlight, making it more likely that neither will reach his potential.
Tebow was the butt of a lot of jokes last season, even though he helped the Broncos win a weak AFC West and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC wild-card playoff game. He overcame the jokes and won over a bunch of fans, especially in Denver. But that’s where Peyton Manning resides, so Tebow was expendable.
Had Denver really been watching out for him, the Broncos wouldn’t have shipped him off to New York. They would have worked out a deal for Tebow to go to Jacksonville, where he could have been re-united with his adoring fans from his days at Florida.
But football’s a business, right. And the Jets offer was slightly better than that of the Jaguars. So John Elway, who after signing Manning claimed that Tebow was the kind of guy he hopes marries his daughter someday, traded him to the worst place possible.
I don’t see any way Tebow can make it there.