The controversial megastar will bring a media circus with him to New York, which is exactly what the struggling team doesn't need.
The middle of the road is a Jets fan's home. Beginning in the days of "Broadway" Joe Namath, followers of the franchise became accustomed to the obscurity of being a consistently 8-8 team. Since 1969, the Jets have had just eight seasons with ten or more wins and made the playoffs just 11 times. As an emotional investment, they were low risk, low reward. When Rex Ryan took over as head coach in 2009, he wasted no time guaranteeing the first Jets Super Bowl since 1969. In both the 2009 and 2010 seasons, he almost made good on that promise, getting the Jets to two consecutive AFC Championship games. In doing so he dared to raise the hopes of a fan base that had long since consigned their franchise to permanent second-tier status.
This past season, as the Jets skidded out of control, Ryan kept up the bluster, even as embarrassing consecutive losses to Philadelphia and the New York Giants made his words sound more like pleas for attention. When the Jets skidded on a three-game losing streak and missed the playoffs, it hurt. In the aftermath they were skewered in the media as leaderless, trash-talking divas falling apart on the field and in the locker room.
When it became clear that Peyton Manning was going to land in Denver and unseat the Broncos' controversial megastar Tim Tebow, the sports media nearly had a collective seizure. Pundits, drunk on the joy of wild speculation, had Tebow pegged as a lock for sad, quarterback-desperate teams like the Miami Dolphins or the Jacksonville Jaguars. Few thought he would land with the New York Jets, the team that just guaranteed their own franchise quarterback, Mark Sanchez, $20 million over the next two years. But landed there he has, giving Jets fans a new reason to be frustrated.
MORE ON FOOTBALL
From an on-field standpoint, the trade is conceivably justified. Tebow is a talented athlete and put in the right position, he could breathe some life and flexibility into the Jets' 24th-ranked offense. But everything he does can be replicated, at a higher level, by a player already on the Jets roster. Sanchez, though he looks thoroughly average (and even below that) at times, is a statistically superior quarterback. They have an effective running back in Shonn Greene, and an explosive running back/receiver hybrid in Joe McKnight. Tebow would ostensibly be used in the Jets' wildcat (a kind of anything-goes trick play formation used maybe five to ten times a game), but Jeremy Kerley proved himself in that role in week 18 with a competent 40-yard pass to Mathew Mulligan. The Jets have very limited cap space and just signed back-up quarterback Drew Stanton six days ago. Why spend another $2.5 million and two draft picks on Tim Tebow?
These are questions that could be laid to rest with results on the field. What fans should be worried about is the headache Tebow brings with him. To be a Jets fan, or a fan of any New York team, is to live with the perpetual clatter of the city's belligerent, easily-incensed sports media in your ear. Multiply that factor by Tebow and it's like pouring plasma on a vampire rave. It took the New York Daily News all of a few hours to start clamoring for Tebow blood. Imagine the full 3D pop-up collage they'll publish when Sanchez throws his first interception.
The worry is that this kind of media circus is exactly what the front office is after.
As Jets blog Gang Green Nation's John B. put it :
"This does not feel like a football move. It feels like a move made to generate buzz and sell merchandise and tickets. Wildcat quarterback is not a need. Outside linebacker is. Free safety is. Right tackle is. This is a Redskins move. This is a Cowboys move. This is a Raiders move."
Fans fear an ownership like that of Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder (really, no relation), who, lacking faith in their team's abilities, have resorted to every measure except wins on the field to sell stadium seats and keep their teams in the public eye. Jets fans already got a taste of this when the aging Brett Favre was signed as quarterback for an ultimately disastrous 2008 season. Up until the Tebow trade, the off-season was going well for the Jets. They fired offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Malcontent wide receiver Santonio Holmes made peace with Sanchez. They avoided any embarrassing free-agent pursuits like last year's love affair with Nnamdi Asomugha and were quietly filling their roster holes with affordable, low-risk/high-reward players. They'd had their moment and now they were back where they belonged, in the shadows, playing the underdog again. It seemed like the Jets were ready to shut up and play without the media circus that had followed them since Rex Ryan came to town. Fans could once again enjoy the middling obscurity of 8-8. Then they had to trade for Tim Tebow and just like that, they're dragged back into the spotlight.