By Jason Keidel
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The sound and fury surrounding the Jets comes to a merciful end this Sunday in Buffalo, an appropriate outpost for a team frozen in time.
Rex Ryan, who clearly lost physical weight and metaphysical heft this year — waffling at press conferences, stammering over obvious answers, oddly unsure of himself — said that he’s “more comfortable” with Mark Sanchez playing their final game, which means that he’s most uncomfortable with Tim Tebow doing anything other than some cosmetic appearance in some gimmick formation once a quarter.
Tebow has been ornamental since he was traded to Gang Green, a little more than a decoy for an offense with nothing to hide. Tebow has been called polarizing, and it’s hard to say why. What has he done other than anything that’s been asked of him? He’s perhaps the best player in the history of college football and has won more playoff games over the last year than the Jets have. There’s no doubt that men with his cosmic charm over the masses accidentally invite the fringe followers in cyberspace, who confuse Christian crusades with football games. But that’s beyond his control.
We’re not privy to the backstage theater in Florham Park, where the Jets’ crippled think tank ponders another way to vex its fan base by benching the one player that the world still wants to see. It can’t get any worse than Sanchez. Yet Ryan won’t start the one player who deserves a shot. Some say that Tebow marched into the head coach’s office and demanded to be rescinded from Wildcat formations. Neither man will confirm it. Nor does it matter. It’s clearly personal with Ryan.
And it has been all year.
And no matter your thoughts about Tebow’s religious bent and myriad causes — all of which are benign — he did lead Denver to the playoffs last year and beat my beloved black & gold in the opening round. And the Steelers, while injury-addled, were still 12-4 and favored to win the game.
Obviously, the Jets have nothing to lose by starting Tebow, but Ryan does. If Tebow shines, Ryan looks ridiculous. Tebow has killed us with kindness since his private plane landed on a bejeweled runway, replete with limos and helicopters and pomp and private press conferences. And if he did lose his biblical equanimity for a few moments in Ryan’s office, who could blame him? Lord knows that the Jets have seen worse. They just signed Braylon Edwards a week after the petulant wideout publicly branded them idiots.
The decision to start Sanchez isn’t about Tebow, of course. Nor is this historically comical season remotely about a substitute quarterback, no matter his gravitas.
It’s about the Jets, as always, and their penchant for punting all the goodwill and luster that they muster. And that’s because they do almost everything for the wrong reason every season. It’s been 43 years since Joe Namath flexed his forefinger in the Orange Bowl, and we have little reason to believe that another 43 ring-less seasons aren’t unfurling before us.
Do you think Rex is afraid to start Tebow because he might perform well and make him look bad, or do you believe that the coach really thinks Mark Sanchez gives the Jets a better chance to win? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…