By Jeff Capellini, WFAN.com
NEW YORK (WFAN) — So now we’re all in Tim Tebow’s head. That’s good to know going forward because I, for one, am dying to know how he thinks the upcoming season of “Survivor: Philippines” is going to shake out.
We all get that the Jets are the NFL’s biggest soap opera. Hardly a day goes by when they don’t do or say something that causes a group of reporters to knock over a row of pay phones, as we see and laugh at in “Airplane!” every time we catch it while flipping channels.
But that’s a comedy. Then again, so is a lot of the Jets media coverage these days.
This notion, as reported in a NYC tabloid on Thursday, that Tebow could leave the Jets after the 2012 season seems like it’s self-serving. It’s not necessary, even if there could be a modicum of truth to it. If feels more to me like since the Jets didn’t lose last Sunday and have a fairly decent chance of winning again this Sunday, the powers that be felt they had no choice but to decide we all needed a little turmoil in our lives. You know, a little exercising of the old checks and balances system of sports fandom.
How do you write a story like this after just one game? The timing does reek of the same old, same old when it comes to the traditional media mindset, but with the Jets it’s magnified, and the people who make up the traditional media mindset know that better than anyone. They think we can be spoon-fed anything. Well, maybe some of us can, but what does that say about the audience they are trying to reach?
Within 20 minutes of the tabloid tweeting its piece the social media world was abuzz with rumors about this fascinating back-up quarterback jetting from the NYC area to God only knows where. The reaction to said report was by and large, “Oh, it’s just the media being the media.” Page views surely went up for a stretch, but I’m sure the print subscription hotline wasn’t lighting up.
A story like this just takes the focus off what is important. It creates chaos for the sake of creating chaos. It’s irresponsible in that it cites an unnamed source, which I have a hard time believing should ever be an acceptable form of reporting the news. Now, I’m definitely in the minority here, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong, and I’m sure there are millions of people out there who couldn’t care less about the nameless and faceless and more about the people willing to stake their reputations to what they believe to be the truth.
In fairness, could Tebow leave? Sure. He could. And will the author of the column in question be remembered for beating everyone to the punch on this particular story?
Yeah, for about five minutes.
For his part, Tebow is not going to tell anyone anything. He’s mastered this craft. He’s developed a Jedi mind trick that seems to influence everyone. It is so powerful it has often caused the media to pull a France and wave the white flag of surrender, while forcing some more daring reporters to turn to Plan B to get the stories they want to write — speculation and conjecture.
It’s just a cheap way of creating a buzz, no matter how right the story could end up being. I’ll never be swayed in that belief, and that’s probably the line of thinking that won’t make me any friends with the media elite.
I really don’t care.
Let’s play devil’s advocate for a moment. Suppose the Jets scored 6 points against the Bills, instead of the 48 they dropped in a stunning offensive display many of those same media members figured was never possible. Don’t you think the story this week would have revolved around when Tebow would be named the starter? Wouldn’t Mark Sanchez have been under siege? How about Tony Sparano? How about Rex Ryan? You think maybe he would have been forced to field a few more questions than usual? You think it’s possible a few intrepid writers would have shadowed Santonio Holmes for his thoughts?
Yet the Jets won and won big, but because Tebow managed just 11 yards on five carries, suddenly the “wildcat” is no longer a viable option, Sanchez is going to become a superstar and the left-handed quarterback who can’t throw no longer has a place here and must, he must, be thinking of leaving. Right?
It was one game, people, and if you think the Jets are going to excel the rest of the way without serious contributions from Tebow you are out of your mind. The beauty of what the Jets did against Buffalo was all set up by the mere fact that Tebow is here and that Sanchez is getting the message, and because of those facts the offense is very unpredictable now and likely will continue to be.
Tebow is not stupid. And as the unnamed source in the tabloid story rightly points out he’s the consummate team player. He’s not going to make waves even if he is disappointed with his individual status.
But where I disagree here is with this notion that Tebow, himself, will always think of himself as a starter. I already know he thinks of himself as a winner. I already know he’ll lay down in front of a train to make sure to the best of his abilities that he’s doing his part, however big or small, to make sure the Jets succeed. Who’s to say he won’t wake up one day late in the season if the Jets are in first place and say to himself “I know my role here. I know I can win here. I know I can spread the good word of the Lord here. And I know I can do good things for others here.”
Because that’s what Tebow’s about, not this belief that hidden underneath all of the charm and disarm, freak ability and football wherewithal there’s a selfishness to have to be the main guy. If that is indeed the case then he will have pulled off the biggest ruse this sports-crazed area of the country has seen in some time. But that’s what you get from an unnamed source fueling a media horde that, let’s face it, still likes to make the Jets and Ryan pay for not making good on their Super Bowl boasts, as if that’s the biggest crime they can commit.
Tebow is one of the true genuine articles going. Don’t pretend like you know he has ulterior motives. Because you don’t know, regardless of how many unnamed sources you trot out into print.
And just because the Jets won last week it doesn’t mean the world needs to be brought back into what the media deems as balance.
When this team utters the refrain “it’s us against the world,” it’s not kidding. Rightly or wrongly, the Jets seem like they are the only group of athletes on the planet who are not allowed to just be, or are exempt from making mistakes and then being allowed to move on. We’ve reached the point now where what certain members of the media report is truly just another example of the “Little Boy Who Cried Wolf.”
Sooner or later, no one is going to care what you say — even if you are 100 percent on the money and have the named sources to prove it.
Read more columns by Jeff Capellini and follow him on Twitter at @GreenLanternJet
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