By Jason Keidel
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Because of the two-pronged, soap operatic news springing from the Rocky Mountains, I’m forced to make two points in one piece. Forgive me if I fail.
First, let’s look at Peyton Manning, who made the surreal decision to eschew San Francisco to play in Denver. I’ve heard the arguments from Manning and his minions and still don’t get it. He wanted to avoid the Jets and the NFC East in deference to Eli.
Got it. No problem.
He went to Denver to avoid the NFC altogether out of respect to Eli.
Sorry. You can’t avoid competition altogether because it might involve your brother on occasion.
He passed up San Francisco – the team with the best defense and special teams in the NFL, and a chance to throw to Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis and hand the ball to Frank Gore, in a city with no real winter – because John Elway is in Denver.
Since when did Peyton Manning need a mentor? The 55,000 yards, 400 touchdowns, four MVPs, and Super Bowl ring aren’t sufficient training for new climes? Maybe the Mile High altitude altered his attitude irreparably.
“Jim Harbaugh is an egomaniacal control freak who would choke the creativity out of Peyton’s game!”
Right. Because Vince Lombardi, George Halas, Chuck Noll, Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, and Jimmy Johnson didn’t have control issues. Their egos stopped them from winning championships. Sean Payton’s Saints weren’t handing out cash-stuffed envelopes for sending their foes to the infirmary.
I pray the whispers that Peyton didn’t want the pressure of a “Super Bowl or Bust” team aren’t true. Winning a Super Bowl knocked the caveat from Peyton’s Hall of Fame jacket (Greatest QB to never win the big one). Now that title still stays, sadly, with Dan Marino, who had more guts than any two quarterbacks combined but no defense or running game and a pair of “Marks Brothers” who would be bagging groceries if not for the immortal No. 13. Can you imagine Marino passing on San Francisco?
They went 13-3 with Alex Smith!
Manning is now taking an 8-8 team that rode Tebow’s magic as far as his legs would allow. This, to Peyton, is better than sliding into a 13-3 locker room jacked up by a new coach who led them within a field goal of the Super Bowl, and would be downright frightening with Manning under center. Peyton would have made the 49ers prohibitive Super Bowl favorites as soon as the ink dried on the contract.
Now to the Jets, the Jesters of Gotham, have just landed Tim Tebow, the Big Christian, who was suddenly and startlingly displaced with Peyton’s arrival. The faerie dust faded rather quickly once No.18 became available. It seems love in all relationships is relative.
I wrote here that I had no beef with the Jets romancing QB regality, which Peyton clearly is. And if Mark Sanchez had a problem with that, then go get a real job like the rest of us.
But now the Jets are simply delusional. They gave Sanchise some make-up money for wooing Manning, and the story ends. Or not. Now the Jets traded a valuable draft pick (Tom Brady was plucked in the sixth round) for Tebow, he of the high morals, public prayer, and awful throwing motion.
This places me in the awkward position of disparaging Tebow. I spent last season rubbing Tebow into the lifted noses of elitism. When you’re born and raised on the Upper West Side, you become tired of the “God is dead” existentialism (and I’m not even religious), using the acts of few fanatics to hammer an entire denomination, if not an entire faith. And Tebow is a threat to the wind chimes and red wine crowd, the Sunday New York Times and Zabar’s pod who wouldn’t recognize a place of worship if it fell on them.
Tebow’s biggest crime is his humanity. When we say an athlete is on a mission, we refer to his singular devotion to Sunday. Tebow’s missions are actual missionary work to pungently poor countries. When he’s not doing that he’s preaching the Gospel to prison inmates or visiting terminally sick kids in hospitals. Tebow isn’t what’s right about football; he’s what’s right about mankind.
But he can’t go to the Jets. If Mark Sanchez turns up in your backyard, a mumbling schizophrenic, and his insurance doesn’t cover his treatment, the Jets better foot the bill. To say Gang Green is sending mixed messages to Sanchez is an understatement.
Whatever microscopic sense of manhood Sanchez had is now obliterated, his neck snapping toward the sideline with every incomplete pass and resultant, rabid chant for Tebow. It’s hard to compete against God, even if He can’t throw a spiral sixty yards.
Yes, Tebow changed the world for a few months as football’s Friar Tuck who sprinkled religious experiences upon an awestruck congregation. His kneeling visage became a postcard of decency, italicizing the stark, NFL dichotomy of monsters on the field and missionaries off the turf.
And he beat my beloved Steelers in the playoffs. But Pittsburgh was shredded by injures, including the tender ankle of Ben Roethlisberger, who could barely walk by the end of the season. (That’s not sour grapes, just a fact. Denver deserved to beat the Steelers no matter the circumstances.)
And as we learned with Jeremy Lin, a handful of great games aren’t necessarily a precursor to immortality. Tebow, at best, is a diversion on the field and off, running the Wildcat on Sundays and creating political mayhem on Mondays. Let’s just say the Jets are delicate enough without the whirlwind of Tebowmania.
Tebow’s story is still being penned. He should have remained in Denver to watch a master for a year or two, take over, and make the world worship him once again. Sadly, it won’t happen that way.
You can agree or not with the Jets committing the franchise and Monopoly money to Mark Sanchez, but it’s official. And if there are self-made purgatories, then the Jets and their fans must live in them. There’s no room in this one for Tim Tebow, who cannot walk on water or the rancid marsh around East Rutherford. Whatever you think of Sanchez, he’s your quarterback for now and for the foreseeable future. At least until his next interception.
Bringing Tebow to the Meadowlands, to America’s media vortex, is little more than an attention grab, a circus act for a team that showed it can only handle so many clowns at once. If the Jets thought Rex Ryan and his trucker’s lexicon, his pops’ penchant for boasting, and sharing a building with Big Blue brought inordinate expectations, wait until Tim Tebow shows up. The results will be Biblical.
Feel free to email me: Keidel.firstname.lastname@example.org