I noticed over the weekend watching football on CBS that the network will show the Christmas classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer tonight. It was always my favorite Christmas special when I was a kid. About halfway through the story, Rudolph, Hermey, and Yukon Cornelius come along an island inhabited by defective toys that no kids want. Each one has an odd defect.
The foundation of this team is a strong corps of homegrown talent, but there are quite a few contributors this team picked up who were unwanted by other squads.
LaDainian Tomlinson: After two rough seasons, including one with a 3.3 average last year, the Chargers cut the man who once won MVP with them. He has 45 catches and a 4.5 rushing average this year.
Braylon Edwards: After an ugly contract dispute, off field problems, and mental issues catching the ball led to Cleveland dealing him for a couple of backup players and a couple of midround Draft picks. He has a 17.7 average per reception and 6 touchdowns this year.
Santonio Holmes: The former Super Bowl MVP fell out of favor for a series of off field incidents in Pittsburgh as his franchise decided the bad PR its quarterback gave was enough. The Jets acquired him for an insanely low price of a fifth round pick. The result? Three game deciding receptions in back to back to back weeks.
Antonio Cromartie: Two years of underachieving in a system that didn't suit his talents on top of his incredible fertility, which got him great publicity, made the Chargers deal him. Cromartie has regained his form in a man based scheme that allows him to use turn routes into athletic contests. The Jets are starting to look like they have the top 1-2 punch at cornerback in football.
Jason Taylor: Although he was coming off a productive year and was a long time leader in Miami's locker room, the Dolphins didn't show much interest in bringing him back. In fairness to the Dolphins, Cameron Wake's play is vindicating them to a large extent. Taylor hasn't been as consistent as the Jets might have liked, but he leads the team with 4 sacks. Some of those have been timely.
Rex Ryan: Perhaps the ultimate misfit toy, Ryan was passed over by San Diego, Atlanta, and Baltimore, the team that knew him best, for a head coaching job. His defense is unconventional. He draws plenty of crticism for his swagger and willingness to state his confidence. Results are results, though. He was within a game of the Super Bowl his first year and has the league's best record in his second year, getting the most out of guys mentioned above whose original team had no use for them.
I suppose Rex would be King Moonraiser since he is the leader and recruited these guys. LT might be the choo choo whose caboose has square wheels. Taylor can be the cowboy who rides an ostrich. Cromartie is the water pistol that shoots jelly. Braylon is the boat that can't stay afloat. Santonio is the bird that swims instead of flies.
Together these misfits are putting together a special year.