Alex Prewitt | Live from Mudville

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson claims that trading for Tim Tebow was not a public relations maneuver.

I claim that New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is full of it.

Then again, this is not a new sentiment by any stretch. Johnson, in his own right, has personally espoused some verbal atrocities, like claiming that Jets fans are “very intelligent, they’re the smartest fans in the country,” but this is more about the organization, about the party line that will exist in the Big Apple once “Tebowing” meets Time Square.

In his first public comments on Tebow’s acquisition, Johnson stated that “all of the decisions we make regarding the team are just for football. It’s hard to predict other things. If you get confused in term of what your mission is, you’re not going to accomplish your mission. And our mission is to win games pure and simple.”

Predicting wins and losses may be hard, especially at the Meadowlands. Predicting a firestorm of thirsty New York media tracking Tebow’s every move, the jersey sales and the national attention? That’s a no?brainer.

This feigned horror, the public statements about a commitment to winning and the rejection of criticism, it all ironically reads as yet another PR move. What better way to stay in the news than to deny? Accept that swapping two lower?round picks for Tebow was, at least on some level, designed to bring the hype to New York, and that hype disappears. To stay in the media, you have to fight the media. And that’s what the Jets do best. Just look at Rex Ryan.

By this point, however, shrugging our collective shoulders and ignoring the circus seems to be the most sanity?inducing option. The team reads more like a toddler longing for one last Snickers bar in the grocery store candy aisle than one actually trying to win games with players who fit within the existing system. At one point, it snagged a necessary injection of spice to the typically mundane NFL news cycle. But as time wore on, we learned that the Jets just wanted attention.

A PR move, a football move, call it whatever you want. It doesn’t matter. This is the kind of boisterous gestures we’ve come to expect from Ryan and company – and subsequently ignore. Talk trash about your upcoming opponent. Prematurely proclaim yourselves the Super Bowl champs. Trade for a marketing gold mine and hide it under the guise of “winning.”

In a way, this was at once a brilliant and foolish move. It’s hard to imagine Tebow succeeding in New York, but then again he seems to succeed against all odds, as having Jesus on your side tends to help you out in doing. And yet he’s already become a success. Jersey sales will be pushed immediately, and the Jets will reap the benefits. More importantly, they’ll keep pace with the defending Super Bowl?champion Giants. Not on the field, but on the back page.

The off?the?field benefits are clear. Tebow pushes Sanchez, sure, but how far? How much can he really contribute on the field? Tebow’s one selling point from a practical football standpoint is the Wildcat, an offense that’s enjoyed mixed success at best since its introduction into the league. The Jets have Mark Sanchez, but the entire preseason will be spent with all eyes on Sanchez, Tebow and Ryan. We will create a quarterback controversy, even when there shouldn’t be one.

Johnson says that the Jets are not confused about their mission, but he’s tactfully avoiding the implication. Their real mission is simple: Bring in an attention?grabber who can be masked behind his past trophies and victories. And they got the ultimate attention?grabber, perhaps football’s most polarizing and mystifying athlete.

Alex Prewitt is a senior majoring in English and religion. He can be reached on his blog at http://livefrommudville.blogspot.com or followed on Twitter at @Alex_Prewitt.


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