Now, let’s get to the intangibles. The story goes that the Jets had a divided locker room last season and that Ryan lost the team by making me-first Santonio Holmes the team captain. For the Jets to turn things around, they need to dump the bad apples and get a few “good locker room guys.” And who’s nicer than Tim Tebow?
That’s all BS, of course. The divided locker room story is the hoariest media narrative there is, a tale that crops up at the end of so many failed seasons. Team discord is always more a symptom than a cause of a losing record. A couple of weeks ago, Sanchez and Holmes reportedly had dinner and buried (the mostly media-created) hatchet. Holmes may get frustrated with his young quarterback’s tunnel vision, and he may not be a paragon of leadership, but he’s a gamer who’s been to the mountaintop—someone Jet fans loved when he carried them to multiple fourth-quarter wins in 2010. His airplane celebrations are incredibly irritating when the Jets are losing. When the team is winning, they’re spectacular monuments to the team’s wondrous success.
Now, what’s something that could really, truly divide this team? I’d nominate the acquisition of the most-polarizing athlete in professional sports. On his best days, Rex Ryan’s bluster is a useful distraction, allowing the players to drift into the shadows as their blabbermouth of a coach gets all the heat. By trading for Tebow, Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum have added fix or six more rings to the media circus that’s already Barnum-and-Bailey-ing outside the Jets’ locker room. All that extra tabloid coverage will be spiffy, but if given the choice, I’d prefer five or six Super Bowl rings.
The one guy who’s making sense in this mess is Antonio Cromartie, the Jets cornerback who tweeted “We don’t need Tebow” in advance of the trade. As the wise Cromartie says, if all the team wants is a guy to run the Wildcat, then they can just hand the ball to the less famous, speedier Jeremy Kerley or Joe McKnight.
Instead, Jet fans will have to deal with Tebow Tebowing in a green uniform. This is a desperate move of a desperate franchise, one that’s been flailing for 43 years in a relentlessly futile attempt to get back to the Super Bowl. The best possible outcome here is that the trade to be completely pointless—Tebow will be an irrelevant sideshow and the Jets will sink or swim on the merits of the dozens of other guys on the roster. In the worst case, Tebow will somehow seize the starting job and set the franchise back five years. Hey, as a Jet fan, at least I’m used to that sort of thing.