That said, there is one person it’s hard not to feel for. And I can’t believe I’m saying this. But how can you not feel for Tim Tebow?
Yes, that Tebow, who up until this year seemed to be living about the most charmed football life imaginable. That Tebow who lived and played with this faith so visible on his sleeve* it made a large swath of America uncomfortable no matter what their religion.
*Or maybe on his cheek would be a better phrase.
I am not nor have I ever been that big of a Tebow fan. I never thought he was a good enough quarterback to justify the first round pick Josh McDaniels spent on him with Broncos. But you know what? Whether he had a huge hand in it or not, he didn’t do too badly. He was 8-6 as a starter, and he undeniably had a very good game to beat the Steelers in the playoffs. Whether he was a first round pick or not, he definitely showed he was a viable quarterback in the NFL, which is better than many people had him pegged as. Meager success, maybe, but certainly success.
Then came the puzzling trade to the Jets, which has only gotten more puzzling as the season as worn on. Now, at the time, it wasn’t all the surprising the Broncos would trade Tebow. While Tebow did a fine enough job, John Elway is understandably a little hard to please when it comes to quarterbacking, and he most assuredly wanted to see somebody who played the position a little more . . . well, a little more like Elway. And with Peyton Manning newly available from a mutual and amicable split from the Colts,* that was on the market. With Manning in tow, it was either to the bench or on to a new opportunity for Tebow. The Broncos decided to let him give it the old college try somewhere else, and it was the Jets who apparently came up with the best offer, dangling a pair of draft picks and cash.
*I just wanted to make a side note about just how rare it seemed that an all-time great like that would leave a city that so loved him (and vice versa, it seemed) on such great terms. Now, there were a lot of circumstances that had to all fall into place just right for this to happen, but it will be a bittersweet day when Peyton inevitably makes a return trip to Indy as the opponent.
Combine this trade with the hiring of supposed wildcat guru Tony Sparano* and the “Sanchize” failing to really grow into his pro career, and it looked like maybe there would be some real opportunity for Tebow. If anybody was going to try something a little wacky and off-the-wall, the Jets would seem to be the team to do it, right?
*I always seem to want to say it’s Tony Soprano, but that’s something else entirely.
Well, apparently not. They’ve used Tebow very sparingly, to say the least. You can count yours truly in as one who thought they could and should have used him more, even if not as a quarterback. Now, I do think they should have given Tebow a shot at quarterback, but the team seemed pretty steadfast against that. So, they occasionally asked him to play elsewhere on the field, and by all accounts Tebow did so graciously and to the best of his ability.*
*Say what you want about Tebow, but you truly can’t question his effort. I don’t think even his biggest detractors would fault his work ethic or effort.
And what did Tebow get for his sacrifice? The announcement that the now completely-inept Mark Sanchez would not be starting this week for the Jets, and in his place is . . . Greg McElroy. That has to be crushing, even if not all that surprising. In relief appearances, it was pretty clear that the rookie from Alabama was higher in the Jets’ heart, if not officially so on the depth chart. And, well, now it is official on the depth chart. It seems beyond clear now that there was never going to be any level of bad the Jets could have reached that they would have given the reins to Tebow and see what he could do.
So why work so hard to make this trade happen in the off-season when you clearly had no intention of actually putting Tebow in the game? The only explanation I can offer up is to sell tickets and generate buzz going into the season. And they may have been successful in that. I know the move certainly got attention, even if some of that attention was a little confusion. It may have helped sell some tickets, it’s hard to say. But if any tickets were bought specifically because the Jets picked up Tebow, those purchases ought to be refunded. And ticket that was bought on the premise that you would get to see Tebow was a deal made in bad faith. It’d be like buying a ticket to see a-ha and not hearing “Take On Me.” Sure, you know they have a big international following, but, if you’re American, chances are you came for one reason and one reason only. And that was to close your eyes and see visions of sketchy (literally!) race car drivers chasing down the singer and his girl with a pipe wrench. If that moment didn’t happen, you would be pretty pissed. And, well, incidentally, I think Jets fans are pretty pissed.
So, yeah, maybe Tebow comes on a little strong to be considered likable but it’s very hard not to feel for him. Nobody deserves to be used and taken advantage of, and that is exactly what happened here. The Jets totally used him for their own financial game, while very likely destroying his football career in the process. I have no indication whatsoever that Tebow didn’t go to the Jets with anything but the desire to play his best, help the team, and step in as quarterback if Sanchez didn’t work out, which was only slightly less likely at the start of the season as it is now. Shame on you, Jets. At the very least, you ought to release Tebow with a hefty payment and let him try to sign on somewhere else.
And as for Tebow, well, the Jaguars are throwing Chad Henne out there these days. I don’t think anybody in Florida is sold on Henne or Gabbert truly being the future, and I’m sure people around Jacksonville still have some fond memories of you.