By Peter Schwartz
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When the Jets acquired Tim Tebow from the Broncos, Joe Namath wasn’t a fan of the acquisition.
He also took it upon himself to question the hiring of Tony Sparano as offensive coordinator.
But as fast as you can say “ay ay ay”, Namath has had a change of heart on both subjects. At the United Way Gridiron Gala Tuesday night, Namath was asked about Tebow and Mark Sanchez co-existing. The Jets Hall Of Fame signal caller drew a positive picture.
“I’m a Mark Sanchez fan,” said Namath. “I’ve also been a Tim Tebow fan since his freshman year at Florida. When draft day came up I said somebody gotta draft this kid because he’s only positive for the team. He’s going to bring a lot of positive vibes and effort. It’s a plus.”
Now that’s a far cry Namath’s original thought of the Tebow trade.
I asked Namath if he really feels that the Sanchez-Tebow tandem can really work.
“I think it can work,” said Namath. “I have enough respect for Tony Sparano to believe it can work so yeah it can work.”
So now Namath thinks that the two-headed monster that the Jets have created at quarterback can work at that he likes the guy that the Jets have trusted in training them.
But who does Namath think is the better quarterback?
It’s as easy as making a guarantee….Sanchez!
“No doubt about it at all at this point certainly,” said Namath. “And Mark is going to get better. He’s going into his fourth year. I remember a team that won a championship with a quarterback in his fourth year. Let’s hope that happens again.”
Namath was, of course, referring to himself and the Super Bowl III Champion Jets.
But why has Broadway Joe changed his thinking about Tebow and Sparano? It wasn’t that long ago that he was down on both acquisitions.
It’s easy to figure out really. Namath is trying to get back in good graces with the Jets. He has been very critical of the Jets during a weekly radio appearance and that caused a strain in the relationship between the Jets and the player who led them to their only championship.
“I don’t like feeling the vibes that I get back whenever I cross Woody’s (Johnson) path,” said Namath. “Rex (Ryan) and I have been getting along well when we bump into each other but I know that there’s an underlying sensitivity there that the Jets have.”
It’s not a good thing when the greatest player in franchise history is not on good terms with the team and that needs to be fixed. It was a different set of circumstances when Yogi Berra stayed away from the Yankees all those years but when he came back, it was awesome.
Namath would like nothing better than to be back in the Jets’ good graces but flip flopping his opinion on what the team does proves one point.
He has zero credibility when it comes to being an impartial analyst.
LOCAL PLAYERS HONORED
Congratulations to Jets guard Brandon Moore and Giants guard Chris Snee on being honored as “Hometown Heroes” at the United Way Gridiron Gala Tuesday night. The event raised The event raised $1.5 million dollars to benefit New York city’s most vulnerable children and youth. Moore and Snee were recognized for their service to the community. Also, Giants Hall Of Fame linebacker Harry Carson received the MVP Award recognizing his lifetime achievement.
There were plenty of current and former Jets players in attendance including Dustin Keller, Mohammed Wilkerson, Mike DeVito, Wesley Walker, and John Schmidt.
Keller couldn’t have been happier for his teammate to be honored as a hometown hero.
“It’s awesome and he definitely deserves it,” said Keller. “He does so many things in the community. He’s such a leader and a vocal guy in the locker room. The guys want to follow what he’s doing and this is more than deserved.”
The United Way of New York City fights poverty across the five boroughs. To learn more about their work and how to get involved, please visit www.unitedwaynyc.org.
CHANGE IS GOOD
Dustin Keller also spoke about what’s going on with the Jets on the field and the transition to new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. When Brian Schottenheimer left to become offensive coordinator with the Rams, Rex Ryan noted that the verbiage in the offensive playbook may have been too complicated.
Keller says Sparano’s playbook is much different.
“It’s definitely shorter,” said Keller. “The words have a lot more meaning than they did before. There’s not as much verbiage needed. There’s a lot of memorization involved, but our guys can definitely handle that.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Schotty there huh?
At the gala, I also caught up with 2010 first round pick Muhammad Wilkerson. He’s happy to be reunited with former prep school teammate Quinton Coples who was taken by the Jets in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Listen to my interview with Wilkerson:
The Jets are continuing their off-season program and OTA’s will begin next week. Check back here next week for more!
Enjoy the off-season everyone. It’s going to be full of news and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @pschwartzwfan.