We are what we are. A noted philosopher once said that, or a derivation of I am what I am.
Yet, somehow, the New York Jets are trying to convince everyone they aren’t what they are. And, it goes well beyond the arrival of Tim Tebow. Many have said the Jets became a circus when Tebow came to town. The truth is they already were.
From coach Rex Ryan’s pronouncements to the acquisition of wide receiver Santonio Holmes and naming him a captain (and many things in between), the Jets have found a way to steal headlines in New York City’s famed tabloids.
Yet, despite the way they have conducted themselves, the Jets then take umbrage with how they are portrayed.
Ryan said this past week, “Well I just think we’re a better football team than people give us credit for. I think our record says otherwise in the three years that we’ve been together. I’m not afraid to say it: I think this is going to be an outstanding football team. The best team that I’ve had since I’ve been here. I don’t know if it’s the national perspective, but it’s my perspective.”
Then, Ryan said, The circus thing is kind of a little old for me.”
Really? The reality is that both things can be true. Just because you’re a circus doesn’t mean you can’t be a good team. All you have to do is recall “The Bronx Zoo” that existed with the New York Yankees.
However, there is also no question that Ryan, the carnival barker, places added pressure on the backs of his players that can make it more difficult to win.
Yet, even owner Woody Johnson jumped into the fray when he said of the circus portrayal, “I think that is (the media). I certainly don’t feel that. We are deadly serious about what we do here, trying to win games and trying to represent our fans in a way that they expect us to represent them. We learned this in third grade: sticks and stones and all this stuff about calling people names and all is what that is. That is a way to sell papers but I don’t think that reflects us. I am not in this to create a circus environment or any other kind of environment other than a winning environment.”
As if the Jets don’t help sell papers or help ratchet up the sports-talk shows.
Finally, Johnson was asked if he was surprised by the scrutiny the Jets have received. Seriously? That question comes from someone in the media that is part and parcel of the scrutiny. So, Johnson said, “No, not at all. Not really now. This is New York, so we’re going to be scrutinized. Everything we do is going to be questioned and analyzed. As I walk out to the parking lot to talk to the fans, everybody’s got an opinion, and, in many cases, an informed opinion. When you’re putting a team together like this, it’s thousands of decisions (that) come together to put a team together. We’re talking about (general manager) Mike (Tannenbaum), the amount of transactions that you make in putting a team together, it’s in the hundreds of major transactions.
“But all the choices you make along the way, you hope result in a team that can play together as one team, if you have the right talent and all that. Listen, if it were easy, it probably wouldn’t be as interesting. It’s complicated. I have a lot of confidence, the utmost confidence, in the coaches and general management and the people in this building. There’s nobody that doesn’t work hard to get our job done.”
Even if it is a circus.
Keep Your Fingers Crossed
OK, I know the replacement officials issue has been beaten to death. But we also know the NFL had to be holding its breath Wednesday night that nothing outrageous would happen in the season opener. And, it didn’t.
But, there are 15 more games Sunday and Monday, and what are the odds that there will be major controversy coming out of several games. Don’t forget, the NFL picked the highest-rated crew from the preseason to handle the Giants-Cowboys game, and we also don’t know how much they were helped by the extra official that was there to get through the rough spots.
Former NFL director of officiating Mike Pereira gave his take on what he saw in the preseason. The candid Pereira told ESPN, “People have asked me to grade them because that’s what I used to do when I worked for the league. For the level that these people are working at, I think they’ve done a pretty good job. I think they’ve worked within their capabilities. For Division II or III people, I think the job they’ve done would be like a C-plus.
“I would say this, though: If the regular guys are on the field and they perform like this, they get an F. They have done a decent job for their capabilities. Is it NFL, the level we should expect in the NFL? No, I really don’t think it is. I think it’s not going to resolve itself for a couple weeks, but I think we do deserve a bit better product than we’ve had on the field.”
Call Me Daddy
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t made public the date when his first baby is due. However, Roethlisberger did say that should his wife go into labor on a game day, he will be present and not play in the game.
That brings up all sorts of scenarios. Suppose the Steelers are on the road when he gets the call. Suppose he finds out just moment before game time? It’s strange Roethlisberger would even say anything about it at this point.
What he did say was, “I’m not missing the birth of my child. There’s no chance. I know some fans probably don’t want to hear that, but there’s no chance.”
Of course, he also added, “We’ll do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen (on the day of the game).”
Anyone want to lay odds this doesn’t become an issue?
Open Mouth, Insert Foot
This item is not about politics or individual beliefs. It is about everyone’s right to voice their opinion. Unfortunately, a Maryland politician thinks football players should just shut up and play. Does Emmett C. Burns Jr. know this is 2012?
The story begins with Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo taking a public stand in support of same-sex marriages. A controversial subject indeed. However, Burns, a member of the Maryland house of delegates decided to pour oil onto the fire.
He wrote a letter to team owner Steve Bisciotti asking that the team silence Ayanbadejo by instructing him to “concentrate on football and steer clear of dividing the fan base.”
The letter also said, “I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbadejo would publicly endorse Same-Sex marriage, specifically as a Raven Football player. Many of my constituents and your football supporters are appalled and aghast that a member of the Ravens Football Team would step into this controversial divide and try to sway public opinion one way or the other. … I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as a National Football League Owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employees and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions. I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing.”
Well, it’s probably fair to say we know of no other politicians doing what Burns did. It’s 2012 and yet rancor is still the way of the world in many cases.
*Looks like Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson is a “play” for this week. Said Texans coach Gary Kubiak, “He looks good, he looks really good. He’s back to his full load at practice. Obviously, I’m going to play all four of those guys in the game. We’ll continue to do that. I think that’s best for Andre and for the guys, for the team as a whole. He’s back to his normal self as far as work habits. He actually stayed out there a little longer today, him and Matt (Schaub) to work on a couple things. That’s the guy I know, so he’s back at it.”
*Tough call on Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch, who said, “I feel good.” When asked about playing, he said, “I just stay ready, that’s all. It will be my body’s decision. But I’ve taken the appropriate steps to make sure that I don’t have to do something out of the ordinary to get ready. Just like I said, I stay ready.” Keep your eyes on rookie Robert Turbin for a possible quick waiver claim.
ESPN analyst Jon Gruden on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson: “I think the surprising thing that goes along with Russell Wilson being a starter is they went out and gave Matt Flynn a big contract and some people probably felt Flynn was the guaranteed starter, given the money he was given. But if you look at the body of work, what Wilson did in college, and what Matt Flynn did in college; it’s to me not even close. I haven’t met anybody who has been a team captain at quarterback on two major college teams in back‑to‑back seasons and taken their teams to Bowl games. When Russell Wilson walks in the room, you feel his presence. He has an incredible vibe about him that’s outstanding for an offensive football team and a team. And I think he can play it. The only downside to this kid is he’s just not tall in some people’s eyes, and I’m just happy that he’s proved the critics wrong so far and I’m pulling for him. I really like this guy.”