Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tebow's Great Blunder

Tim Tebow
Tim Tebow seeks divine guidance

Word is that Tim Tebow told the Broncos to trade him to the Jets instead of Jacksonville.  I believe this was a huge mistake on his part.

First, preliminarily, ponder for a second that Tebow was a First Round pick with a year of experience in the NFL.  He started during the string of victories that got the Broncos into the playoffs and the playoff win that the Broncos won because of his long touchdown throw in overtime against an overwhelming favorite.

And all the Broncos could get for him was a fourth-round pick, a sixth round pick and cash?

Something is wrong there.

A young, experienced, successful starting quarterback in the NFL normally should go for much more value than that.  Very, very few first-year quarterbacks get that much experience.  Yet, the entire league basically said that his value had gone down this year, not up.

The combined wisdom of the NFL decided that Tebow does not deserve to be starting anywhere.  A fourth-round pick does have value, so they also decided he belongs in the league.  But not as a starter, as a back-up.  Maybe forever.

Given that premise, Tebow had the choice of either going to Florida, where he went to college and no doubt has a legion of fans, or going to New York City.

I know a little bit about New York City.  I grew up in the suburbs and lived in Manhattan for a long time.  I also know about other places, having lived in suburban Colorado for a decade.

Tebow made a huge mistake choosing the Jets.  The stated reason is that he thought they "wanted him more."  If true, that is just fuzzy thinking on his part.  The coaching staff may have been more welcoming, but that isn't going to matter when it's September and he is throwing like a girl.

Nobody in New York City is going to give a hoot about his career or his progress.  The Big Apple has its share of Christians and the sort of people Tebow attracts, but it also has way more than its share of godless heathens, sports haters and malicious gossip mongerers.  Destroying athletes who have pretensions of any kind and don't deliver is a spectator sport in NYC.

Nobody probably remembers a fellow by the name of Eddie Lee Whitson.  He was just like Tebow.  A good, though far from great, player who achieved his success in a fairly rural/suburban environment, San Diego.  He had a moderately good year as a starting pitcher and then became a free agent after the 1984 season.

He got the opportunity to play in New York. Big money beckoned.  The team there wined and dined him and lured him in.  Whitson signed his name on the dotted line, convinced that because the team wanted him so much that success was assured.

The team Whitson signed for was the Yankees.  They were in need of pitching, not having made the playoffs in several years despite having spent a huge sum (for the time) to get free agent Dave Winfield.  Whitson and his moderately good numbers were like a life boat to a sinking team.  If he performed that well, there was no way the Yankees wouldn't make the playoffs for years to come and revive the glory days of 1976-1981.

A problem developed, though.  It turned out that Whitson didn't like New York, but that wasn't the cause of his undoing.  The problem was that he couldn't win.  Despite being perfectly healthy, he went out every five days and got shelled.  The man on whom so many high hopes were placed started off 1-6 with a 6.23 ERA.  Believe me, it seemed worse than those numbers indicate.

Their dreams of playoffs dashed, the fans turned on Whitson.  They would yell and scream and throw things at him.  If they could have beat him up, they would have.  New York fans are like that.  If you produce, you are their boy.  If you fail, they will make you earn every last cent of that big free agent contract many times over.

It got so bad that Whitson refused to let his wife attend games.  That was a wise decision.  In later years, fans would throw batteries and dump drinks on the wives of players who didn't perform or who just irked them.

Whitson did not improve.  In fact, he regressed despite being completely healthy.  The manager, Billy Martin, was beloved by the fans because he was just like them, with an absolute burning need to win.  Martin's anger over Whiton's failures built and built over the course of the year, and finally he had had it.  One night, Martin got into a screaming match with Whitson, chased him through their hotel and decided to beat him up.  They both suffered broken bones, Martin was fired, and Whitson was out for the rest of the year.

Martin was a winner, and everybody knew it, so later he was rehired.  Whitson, well.... 

Whitson just got worse after that.  You could see the fear in his eyes, people said.  His final year, this highly touted starter went to the bull-pen as a mop-up man and had an ERA that was higher than his height.  Finally, the Yankees pulled the plug and sent him back to San Diego for, basically, a broken bat.  He lasted a while longer there but his problems took years to straighten out, beginning 11-20 as a starter.  His reward for returning to New York to face the Mets was a death threat.  Bravely, he started after being escorted to the game by the Commissioner of Baseball and a security team.  He gave up six runs in a little over three innings.

Whitson's experience was hardly unique.  Anyone interested should go look up the strange case of AJ Burnett from the last few years and they will find almost the same sequence of events.  Oh, he didn't break any bones, he just got a mysterious black eye one night.  The broken bone happened only after he left.

The point is, Tebow does not have the goods, and he is going to a city that absolutely, positively requires production.  If he does not produce, they won't give a rat's patooty about his fine upstanding morals or his fervent beliefs or his saving himself for marriage.  All that will only mean they throw Bibles at him instead of hot dogs.  In Florida, he stood a chance, because he still has fans there and there are many, many people in places like that who will support someone because of what they represent.  For Tebow to think he doesn't need that kind of fan support is a major, major blunder, and perhaps the first step in his complete downfall.  That mistake ultimately flows from his own hubris, in thinking that he can produce when the entire NFL has just decided he can't.

I fear the worst for Tebow.  Honestly, though, I am so glad he is gone from Denver that I hope he wins ten Super Bowls in New York.  Just so long as I don't have to listen to the locals here fawning over him any more.

UPDATE APRIL 29 2013: The New York Jets announced today that they had given Tim Tebow his unconditional release.

UPDATE June 11 2013: The New England Patriots announced that they had signed Tim Tebow as a backup quarterback to Tom Brady. Anything has to be better for him than playing in the media circus of New York


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