Monday, April 29, 2013

The Most Unkindest Sack Of All

New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow is off the team after a stint as a highly-paid charismatic bench warmer. It's disgusting. It's insulting. It defies logic.

"Unfortunately," coach Rex Ryan said in the official press release, "things did not work out the way we all had hoped." Here's where I pause to inhale vapors from a simmering stew of irony, denial, and cluelessness.

The Jets paid $4 million in salary and contract buyout to acquire Tebow from the Denver Broncos. Breaking down his stats with the green and white, that works out to $500,000 per pass attempt, $666,667 per completion, $125,000 per rush, $39,216 per rushing yard -- with no touchdowns. Any GM looking at these numbers would declare Tebow wasn't working out. But the key word here is "work."

Tebow spent more time on the bench than the field this past season. When Ryan sent starting quarterback Mark Sanchez to the sidelines, he skipped over Tebow for third-string Greg McElroy. I have heard various riffs on a universal excuse: Tebow just doesn't have the skillset needed for NFL-level football. So why did the Jets pay out the nose for him in the first place? The team had to be thinking of Tebow's fan base -- all those Christian evangelicals and others he would bring in, because they sure as heck weren't thinking about actually playing him.

ESPN columnist Rich Cimini writes:
Tebow doesn't get away unscathed here. He failed to capitalize on his few opportunities, looking nothing like the player who ran through the Jets in 2011. He put on weight, at the team's request, making him slower.

He threw the ball so poorly in training camp, making the same mistakes over and over, that coaches began to question the trade.
Others say Tebow refused to consider playing other positions. The reported fit he threw after the Sanchez-McElroy slight hurt his chances. But distilling out the drama and speculations, I arrive at two indisputable conclusions: 1) Tebow was hired to be a quarterback, and 2) the Jets never allowed him to be one.

Some players don't rise to the occasion until they are put to the test. The Jets never gave Tebow the chance to perform under pressure, in a critical game, in front of his millions of fans. They never gave him a shot at repeating the playoff miracle he worked for the Denver Broncos. They never let him use what was in his toolbox. You can argue football is a high-stakes business, not a motivational seminar. But the Jets never even tried to force their $4 million investment to pay a dividend. If Tebow had blown a big game, gotten sacked or intercepted too many times, we would understand. Now the best the team can do is say "things did not work out" with wimpy credibility, giving an equivalent of "John Doe is leaving to spend more time with family."

As I go to press, Tebow does not have any other NFL offers. Perhaps that will change as his fan base rallies around him, and he still has his foundation to keep him occupied. On Twitter, he offers Scripture as a window into his feelings right now: "Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding... in all your ways acknowledge HIM, and HE will make your paths straight."

If I had to pick a proverb for the Jets, Proverbs 3:27 seems to fit: "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it's in your power to help them."


mdf said...

I don't understand your sudden interest of compassion in football? Is it only because he is a Christian? There are lots of other Christians there are better and not even getting chances in their positions. Did he get misled? Maybe. But he was compensated for the deal...with $4,000,000. If he feels bad about getting paid to play QB and not playing then he can give it all away. He doesn't and won't. He can blame it on the Jets but if he is really so good he will be picked up. Ah sport business. He is just a man being paid to play a kid's sport. Very lucky. He's a good guy but a bad football player. There's no shame in that.

Christopher said...

Dearest Michael, I will admit to you it's partially because he's a Christian, but what struck me was the blatant mixture of stupidity, unfairness and blown opportunities.

Tebow was clearly used only for PR value (as others have pointed out), without the Jets getting anything on their $4 million investment -- or even trying to.

What sets Tebow apart from other Christians in pro sports is his profile, which got a huge boost after his performance with the Broncos.

I don't think Tim Tebow ever felt "bad" about not getting to QB -- used, maybe. But I gather he figured out what was going on. As I said in the post, some players don't rise to the occasion until they're put in the spotlight, and the Jets only gave him token field time. Even though he's a man being paid to play a kid's sport, for $4 million I would expect a GM to demand he actually play!

Your Loving Brother And Humble Servant,