It was a move, says Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath, which the New York Jets pulled off to provide salvation for their team. It just so happens to be in the form of tickets and jersey sales and not the blessing of wins and championships.
The Jets' shocking Thursday trade with the Denver Broncos to acquire Tim Tebow not only brings quarterback controversy to New York but also legions of Tebow fans and media scrutiny. The Jets, who haven't won a title since Namath led the team to an upset victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, are clearly making a move to not only enhance their on-the-field product but also make an impact off of it as well. In the same town as the Super Bowl-winning New York Giants, the Jets needed to make this move to recapture the city's attention.
"This goes beyond X's and O's and football. The Jets have a way of maintaining a high profile and this is another way again that they're doing that," Namath told Yahoo! Sports.
The timing of the move is puzzling. Last week, the Jets agreed to terms with former Detroit Lions quarterback Drew Stanton as their backup to Mark Sanchez, who earlier this month signed a five-year contract extension with the team. By inking Sanchez to the $58.25 million deal, the Jets essentially handed the keys of the franchise to the quarterback whom they traded up to take with the fifth pick in the 2009 NFL draft.
Namath, like former Jets players Kris Jenkins, Ray Lucas and Damien Woody, took to social media Wednesday to air his views on the trade. His Twitter and Facebook accounts lit up with fans expressing confusion (and perhaps worse) over the trade. Namath can see a similar scenario playing out in a Jets locker room already fractured by dissension and ego, adding Tebow to the mix won't turn sinners into saints — at least not overnight. There's sure to be confusion there too.
"These guys are expected to be professional, but it doesn't work that way all the time. There's a split there with the players and they're a bit confused — I am too," Namath said.
Now, the Jets have traded to bring in Tebow, 7-4 as a starter last season in leading Denver to the AFC West title - a move that clearly creates a quarterback controversy where none should perhaps exist. Sanchez, while flawed, had led the Jets to consecutive AFC championship games in his first two years in the league and given the size and length of his contract, is a pretty expensive backup should Tebow win the starting position.
"I talk about Sanchez and the other players. You can't help but like Tim Tebow, I'm sure all the guys do, but this is going to be a tremendous amount of distraction for the players," Namath said.
"They're supposed to handle it. But at this stage I'm hoping it will work out positively for the teams, the fans. I know all the fans want to do is win and I'm not sure that is always the bottom-line with how the Jets operate."
Follow Kristian R. Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer
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