Last week, Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath told several media outlets -- starting with Shutdown Corner and our own Kristian Dyer -- that the New York Jets were making a major mistake in acquiring Tim Tebow. "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 of "unnamed sources" in the Jets' locker room concerned about the drama inevitably brought about by Tebow's arrival.
But with the trade a done deal, it seems that Namath has revised his position to a degree.
"I have changed my mind slightly," Namath told Fox Business on Monday. "You see the overview that the personnel in the Jets administration have, they give more thought to the marketing and the other edges of the business than I do. I think more of the football field, the locker room, and what they're trying to achieve on the field. I just don't think the team is in a position right now with their players to have a successful season next year. I think they need fixes in other areas. Whenever I see the move with Tim Tebow, that's just telling me they really don't have all that confidence in Mark Sanchez that they've been telling Mark and telling the fans certainly with the new contract. There's an old saying amongst players in football talking about your general manager and coaches -- they speak with a forked tongue."
Few quarterbacks in NFL history understand the dual pillars of marketing and football better than Namath, so when he came out and panned the Tebow signing as more of a PR move, that certainly drew attention. Now, Namath says, he's better able to understand what the Jets are trying to do ... he just doesn't agree with it. Specifically, Namath has trouble comprehending (as many others do) just how the Jets plan to reconcile the more traditional offense run by Mark Sanchez, and Tebow's role as an option quarterback who could see as many as 20 snaps per game, according to head coach Rex Ryan.
"I think he's going to help the team possibly, but at the end of the day, no I don't think it's going to be a positive move, not in the long run," Namath said. "I am hoping it is, but until Tebow learns to improve his passing game, I don't think [receiver Santonio] Holmes is going to be happy, [any of] the wide receivers. There's not one NFL team that's used this kind of formation that hasn't been suffering offensively. You're gonna take your best player, your quarterback off the field, or one of your best guys, and substitute, and that's showing a weakness right there."
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With Namath, the Jets were able to merge star power and football excellence. Namath was the first quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a season, and he was the field general of the first American Football League team to win the Super Bowl. With Tebow, Namath contends, the Jets are putting visibility before football accomplishments.
"He's the biggest star, or one of them certainly, in the game today so I think the Jets have done a terrific thing here in bringing the fans a real star. Now, can the star continue to play football and contribute properly without disrupting what they have there at this time? The Jets need help -- they finished 8-8 last year. They're thin with their safeties, linebackers, offensive line. It's really a wait and see how Tim Tebow and the Jets [do]. As a quarterback [Sanchez], I would not like this a little bit. I don't know a quarterback, a starter in the NFL that appreciates being taken off the field in clutch situations."
All valid questions that will be answered when the Jets hit the field. Until then, all we can do is wonder just how the Jets plan to run the first successful intentional quarterback split we can remember.