After finalizing a deal on Thursday night to acquire quarterback Tim Tebow from Denver in exchange for draft picks, the Jets now face the task of utilizing the latest big name addition to their offense. In the eyes of Joe Namath, however, the value of Tebow isn’t on the field but off of it.
Speaking from his Florida home, the Jets legend and Hall of Famer railed against his old team, questioning the motives and values of the deal. Given that the Jets signed incumbent starting quarterback Mark Sanchez to a five-year extension earlier this month, Namath sees this trade as creating a quarterback controversy where none existed earlier this week.
“It certainly does have the potential to be a controversy because so many of us are talking about it and that it’s tough to ignore. They’re going to have to deal with it,” Namath said. “I keep using the word distraction and I’m talking about the focus and the job at hand. It takes your mind away from the preparation and the focus for the game. You’re talking about something you may not want to talk about. The players just want to go to work and make the best of this deal.”
“But not everyone is happy about it. Not everyone believes in him; not everyone believes in Tim’s ability. It’s got more things going on than bringing another player in. You have to consider the other avenues the Jets work with in the marketing situation, the ticket situation.”
And that, more than Tebow’s unconventional playing style, is where his value lies. Given his legion of fans and the appeal surrounding his faith, Tebow is a merchandising and marketing dream. As the Jets watched their crosstown rivals win the Super Bowl this February, they slowly began to slip down the pecking order in New York.
Now a jolt of “Timsanity” can help sell season tickets and bring in the loud ringing of the cash register for his jersey sales. Within minutes of the deal being announced, Tebow merchandise was available for sale on the Jets’ web site.
Tebow may end every press conference with a “God bless” as he leaves the podium, but the Jets will be mainly concerned with how many “In God We Trust” on dollar bills he can help bring in. He will be as important to the team’s balance sheets as he is to converting on short-yardage situations.
And with all this in mind, the Jets are now being forced to play Tebow even as they bill him as the backup to Sanchez.
“I don’t know anyone else who wanted him. Maybe Jacksonville. It’s part of the team’s operation,” Namath said. “You’re telling the team you’re going to use this guy in the formation no matter what, even if the offense is working well, no matter what. It’s going to upset some of the players — it will and does. It’s a risky deal at best.”
But there is a solution for quelling the controversy and Namath, who was adamant in his respect for Tebow both as a player and a leader, said it is a simple one.
“The best scenario is that Mark plays his best ball and they never have to use that formation — the Wildcat,” Namath said. “Let’s hope that they never have to use it.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.