By Jason Keidel
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Amazing how homogenous the deals are. Santonio Holmes, obscenely gifted and wholly haunted, was traded to the Jets five years ago, for draft scraps. The Jets poached my beloved black and gold for the gridiron equivalent of a MetroCard.READ MORE: Gen. Colin Powell, Former Secretary Of State, Dies At 84 Due To Complications From COVID-19
It looked like a heist for four games, then Holmes’ ego trumped his Id and that was it. So they double down on the Rom-Com, “I’ll change him” platitude, by dealing for Brandon Marshall.
Each deal included a wildly talented but similarly tormented player – both wide receivers – who had burned myriad bridges before their arrival. Based on their physical splendor and stats, both were worth way more than a fifth-round draft pick, but their peripheral proclivities made them potentially toxic to any team.
Right away Jets fans lit up my Facebook page, drooling over the dynamic, slow-mo montages of Marshall and Percy Harvin moonwalking into the end zone several times every Sunday. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that Harvin will be on the next bus to Palookaville.
Then there’s the obscenely obvious hurdle to any possible success the Jets will have. Someone has to toss the rock to Marshall. And if that someone is Geno Smith, Marcus Mariota, or Nick Foles in exchange for Mariota, then Marshall may be little more than ornamental on a team that lacks a foundation. The Jets have a box filled with stars, stockings and baubles, but no tree from which to hang them.
And just like the last time Gang Green grabbed a gifted head case, the fans were frothing at all these potential victories, while ignoring the variables. They didn’t care that Percy changed his persona from Harvin than Hagler – exchanging helmets for head gear, tackified leather gloves for Everlast – which is why he became so expendable in Seattle.
Think about it. Harvin would rather play for a forlorn franchise that hasn’t won a title since 1969 than for the world champs who were marching toward another Super Bowl. Indeed, you could say that with Harvin on the field, the Seahawks would have defended their title, rather than gagging a game they had cinched with 30 seconds left. Instead of throwing that one-yard pass to Ricardo Lockett, who had 11 catches all year, Russell Wilson would have had the most lethal receiver/runner in the NFL galloping toward that ball.
But essentials like karma and character are incidental to the Jets. Which is why they are, well, the Jets — perennial punch lines in the throes of a 46-year title drought.READ MORE: Gen. Colin Powell Remembered Fondly At His Alma Mater, CCNY, And In The Bronx, Where He Was Raised
I was a mess the day my Steelers pawned off Holmes: a newly-minted Super Bowl MVP in his prime, whom we needed after losing Plaxico Burress to the Giants and iconic wideout Hines Ward to retirement. But Pittsburgh was prescient, sure that Holmes would produce, but ultimately implode, which he did.
Now the Jets import another skilled skill player, with more baggage than Newark Airport. His bulging rap sheet is well known. In fairness, Marshall has been a solid citizen since he joined the Bears, even becoming an emblem for mental illness awareness. Boomer Esiason can’t praise Marshall enough, asserting that his time with the beleaguered Bear was on time and on point all throughout their time as analysts for Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” program.
And maybe Marshall has matured. Maybe he’s at a place of peace and equanimity. For all his poetic prose, F Scott Fitzgerald’s famous assertion that there are no second acts in American life is flatly false. Brandon Marshall looks, speaks, and acts like an adult now.
A shame he turns 31 next week. While 30 is a mysteriously morbid time for halfbacks, running across the stat sheet like an eraser, it’s not particularly kind to wide receivers, either. For every Jerry Rice and Cris Carter, there’s a phalanx of former greats who lose several seconds off their 40 times and inches off their vertical leaps.
Marshall can still ball, to be sure. But he’s still a moody star whose opinions are only amplified with his new perch as pro analyst. How does he react to a rookie quarterback who fled the pocket while Marshall was waving his hands frantically from the soft spot in the secondary?
One of the bedrock traits of a great quarterback is commanding the huddle, attention, and respect of his teammates. His talent and toughness can’t be questioned. And while Marshall is a big target and perfect safety blanket for a fledgling QB, he’s also on the back-nine of his bejeweled career, at that age and wage when he’s thinking about legacy, which means he wants to smooch a Lombardi Trophy. So you wonder how he will react to the precarious life at MetLife Stadium, a graveyard for Super Bowl goals.
And there’s the idea of bringing a tempestuous player to a team with a neophyte head coach, a GM he’s known for a month, a question mark at quarterback, and no robust running game. How does an alpha male like Marshall blend quietly into such uncertainty?
One thing is certain; the Jets will mess this up. Call this one the Marshall Plan.MORE NEWS: Report: Feds May Allow Americans To Get Different COVID Booster Than Vaccine They First Received