Tim Tebow is an irrational solution to a rational problem. He is a media-created storm upon himself, a narrative sold by idiotic airheads who alternate between asking Tebow questions at every juncture and attacking the hype they have created around Tebow. He is a perfect microcosm of the current sports media landscape, which is capable of writing a narrative on one spectrum and critiquing that very narrative on another. More than anything, Tim Tebow is a problem for the New York Jets. Not the only problem, but a problem.
During his infamous end of season run with the Broncos, Tebow led the Broncos to an improbable 6-game winning streak and a berth in the AFC playoffs. Denver went on to shock the Steelers in overtime, and the narrative had been set. ESPN, tossing aside the multiple blowout losses and the beatdown handed to Denver by New England in the divisional round, crafted the idea of Tebow as the "winner." His exhaustingly exhibited Christianity and passion for the game allowed for easy headlines and imagery; Tebow as the blessed Bronco savior, rising up after three quarters of dormancy to win the game. Actual, tangible evidence for the streak proved irrelevant; ESPN had no use for the dominant Broncos’ defense that kept Tebow and the Broncos in the game long enough for late heroics. They piggybacked off his very public religious identity and embraced the mysticism of these improbable victories.
With Tebow as a product, ESPN and, to lesser degrees, other sports media, endlessly debated, promoted, and analyzed the man as a player and a pop culture sensation. Glorified shock-jocks like Skip Bayless- a drivel-spilling troll who backs his opinion with more of his opinion- would propose near-farcical ideas about Tebow. Phrases like clutch gene started to enter the conversation.
These vapid, analysis-free statements sculpted one component of the ESPN debate. One analyst, usually Bayless, would offer up these platitudes, and legitimate NFL minds would have to sit across the table and discuss these ideas as if they held any merit. By debating these claims, ESPN and its pundits gave the concepts legitimacy, and the casual fan could turn in and see respected analysts talk about the idea of a clutch gene, Tebow as the ultimate winner. One side of the mouth would proclaim Tebow while the other would attack, and all the while Tebow is the dominant topic. For the casual fan, ESPN turned a player with strengths and weaknesses into a cultural phenomenon, a debate not based on stats and evidence but ideological claims and the question of intangibles.
As the year progresses, the truth of the Tebow trade can be gleaned. Rex Ryan, who has displayed superhuman tolerance for Tebow questions through most of the year, can be seen nearing his breaking point. Tony Sparano, the offensive coordinator brought in before the trade and then expected to craft a package specifically for Tebow, has marginalized Tebow’s use and destroyed Sanchez’s comfort level and maturation. Woody Johnson, the obvious catalyst for the Tebow trade-he sees nothing beyond the bottom line here- has the audacity to wonder exactly why there’s such a large following for Tebow. No one in the organization adequately prepared for the hellstorm that is Tebowmania, an all-day, everyday affair perpetuated by the media and dragged into every conversation for every player.
Their supposed franchise quarterback, looking to put his first non-playoff year behind him and rebound, has been forced to deal with the most popular backup quarterback of all time taking snaps and shining in the media spotlight. During their blowout loss to the Dolphins, the Jets refused to bench Sanchez in garbage time, for fear that once you turn to Tebow, you cannot turn back. Had it been any other backup quarterback, like Mark Brunell of years past, he would have been in the game taking those meaningless snaps.
The Jets would be misguided in turning toward Tebow to save a doomed season. They would lose their "franchise" quarterback and the majority of their games. Yet, nothing they have done so far has been more misguided than trading for Tebow. Johnson and Tannebaum hoped to enjoy the economic benefits of Tebow while neglecting the very-apparent football issues, and today they have reaped this very hurricane. Ill-prepared for Tebowmania, the team has been swallowed whole by a vulturous media and a fanbase fed false information. Their salvation lies elsewhere.