The Jets thought they had outsmarted the league.
They had acquired a proven winner, a football player who single-handedly could take over games, and a media darling whose star power couldn’t shine any brighter.
But inexplicably, over the course of the 2012 season, the Jets allowed Tebowmania to all but die a slow, painful death.
The Jets had jumped at the chance to trade for the former Heisman Trophy-winner and two-time national champion – even surrendering a fourth- and sixth-round pick in exchange for the former Broncos quarterback.
And after hours of confusion over a $5 million-clause in Tebow’s contract, the trade was finally finalized on March, 21, 2012.
Exactly one year ago today.
“Mark Sanchez is, has been and will be our starting quarterback," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said the night of the trade. "This is another opportunity to add a playmaker, a backup quarterback who can do some things."
But for a litany of reasons – namely, Tebow’s accuracy issues and Tony Sparano’s lack of creativity and trust in the quarterback – Tebow’s career never took off in a Jets uniform. Even worse: there was no Tebowing in the end zone.
In all, Tebow attempted just eight passes (completing six of them for 32 yards) and rushed for 102 on 32 carries. And now, a year after the well-publicized trade – which was followed by a press conference featuring over 250 members of the media in the team’s indoor fieldhouse – Tebow is expected to be released.
The Jets, of course, would prefer to get something in exchange for Tebow. But it’s clear there’s no trade market for the quarterback, who’ll turn 26 in August. The Jets may also decide to hold onto to Tebow until next month’s draft.
Should his NFL career stall, it sounds as if he’ll be welcomed with open arms in the AFL.