Tim Tebow has turned Jets camp into a media circus.
Let me start off by saying that I don't dislike Tim Tebow. I admire the work that he's done with underprivileged kids all over the world. Frankly, I wish more athletes were as willing as he is to give up their free time and serve as a role model, a title that so many of them can't be bothered to embrace.
With all of that said, I think the New York Jets will pay on and off the field for an acquisition that amounts to nothing more than a publicity stunt. Was the idea in trading for such a polarizing figure like Tebow to not create a monumental distraction?
Turn on ESPN and see how long it takes for some trivial Tebow update to come on. With the amount of coverage the Jets are getting, you'd think they, and not the other New York football team, won the Super Bowl last year.
Tebow received exponentially more attention than Sanchez from the more than 35,000 fans who attended the 11 open practices at training camp. Big plays made by Tebow tended to draw bigger applause than big plays made by Sanchez. Outside the ropes, camp was a love-in for Tebow. Inside the ropes, all the affection seemed to be pointed toward Sanchez — as if the Jets needed to make the effort.
Shouldn't the focus for a team that missed the playoffs last season be more on how they intend to get better as opposed to how their backup QB looks?
Now in no way, shape or form am I suggesting Mark Sanchez should go without criticism. There were rumblings in the offseason that certain players thought he lacked the work ethic and leadership skills to take the Jets to the next level.
Even though he led them to the AFC Championship Game in both 2009 and 2010, few would argue it was as a result of Sanchez's outstanding play. In 2011, he turned the ball over a combined 26 times (18 INTs and eight fumbles lost).
So did Jets management bring in Tebow because they had doubts about a player they traded up in the draft to take at No. 5 just three years ago? Maybe so. Yet conventional wisdom would say constantly being asked about his backup and having fans seemingly cheer for his demise is counterproductive to Mark Sanchez's development.
Or does it make more sense that they brought Tebow in to create more of a buzz about a team that missed the playoffs? A team, I might add, that already has a coach and several players who are constantly looking for the cameras as it is.
My biggest criticism of Tebow off the field is that he seems to be "addicted" to the attention. For a guy renowned for being team-first, he sure seems content with being a media darling.
Ultimately, if the Jets were looking for more exposure (like playing in NYC isn't enough?), they've certainly accomplished that. But will it be at the cost of their actual success and current starting QB's psyche? All indications point toward yes, and in the end, it'll be Jets fans who pay the most.