Forbes surveyed NFL fans and this week published lists of the league’s most and least popular players, mostly just water-cooler fodder. But it was interesting to note that Tim Tebow wasn’t on either of them.
That’s because Tebow has become irrelevant with the New York Jets, despite all that talk and conjecture this summer about how Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano might use him.
In the last two games, Tebow has been on the field for 11 offensive snaps. Clearly, the Jets can’t figure out what to do with him. And that figures to continue, as starting quarterback Mark Sanchez is playing pretty well.
Tuesday is the NFL’s trading deadline, and there’s been widespread speculation the Jets have been shopping around Tebow, as they should. Of course, with all the hype surrounding him coming to New York in the first place, and Jets owner Woody Johnson fawning over him, it’s a reach to think the club would readily ship him elsewhere.
Still, if they aren’t going to use him, the Jets should let him go. Jacksonville is the most logical destination, considering Tebow grew up there, has a huge fan base in the region, and could help a franchise dealing with a banged-up starter in Blaine Gabbert (shoulder) and an uninspiring backup in Chad Henne. Tebow could put fans in the seats, too, which traditionally has been a problem with the Jaguars.
New England could be a fit too. Josh McDaniels, who drafted Tebow in Denver, is the Patriots offensive coordinator and surely could find ways to use him, and Bill Belichick has always been creative about getting versatile weapons on the field. It’s hard to imagine the Jets trading Tebow within the division, though.
Then, there’s Seattle. Pete Carroll aggressively tried to recruit Tebow to USC and loves his attitude. Seahawks starter Russell Wilson has Tebow-like mobility (and charisma), and the Seahawks’ scheme wouldn’t be as dramatic a departure for Tebow as a lot of teams.
Chances are, though, the Jets are going to sit tight, keep Tebow, and see where they stand at the end of the season. Meanwhile, he’s slipping further under the radar, looking more like a gimmicky gadget by the week.
Richard Sherman, Seattle’s colorful cornerback who leads the league with 11 passes knocked down, made headlines this week when he changed his Twitter handle to “Optimus Prime,” in honor of Sunday’s Transformers-worthy matchup with Megatron, All-Pro Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson.
Actor Peter Cullen is the voice of Optimus Prime of the ‘Transformers’ feature films and cartoons, and I was able to reach him through our mutual friend, Brent Weirick.
Cullen, in turn, called Sherman and — in his Optimus Prime voice — wished him luck against the Lions.
Sherman was as giddy as a kid to get that call, and had Cullen call back to leave a recorded message on his phone, something he could share with teammates.
“Richard, this is Optimus Prime,” Cullen’s deep voice rumbled in the message. “When you see Megatron, you must tell him… ‘One shall stand, one shall fall.’ Wish you the best. Roll out!”
In the Transformers series, Optimus Prime is the transforming robot and leader of the Autobots. Sherman conceded he was “a little star-struck” getting the call from Cullen, who is also the voice of “Eeyore” in the “Winnie the Pooh” series.
“It was crazy, man, incredible,” said Sherman, in his second season out of Stanford. “Dude, I still watch ‘Transformers.’ I like everything [Optimus Prime] stands for, the character, the work ethic, the leadership. There’s a lot of things about Optimus Prime that are applicable to everyday life.”
Asked who would win a matchup between Optimus Prime and Megatron, Cullen said: “Optimus Prime always wins that battle, for sure. But not without tremendous adversity coming from Megatron, and sometimes we’re left up in the air.”
To say nothing of those passes.
Interesting observations from betting expert R.J. Bell of Pregame.com:
• Indianapolis, which plays at Tennessee on Sunday, hasn’t won on the road since the 2010 season.
• The Atlanta Falcons, the league’s only undefeated team, have given up more yards than they’ve gained.
• The Falcons, one-point underdogs at Philadelphia, are just the sixth undefeated team since 1989 to be an underdog this late in the season.
• Arizona has allowed 29 sacks in the last four games — more than any other team’s season total.
• Seattle opened its new stadium in 2002. If, over that stretch, you bet the Seahawks to cover at home and to come up short on the road, you would have won 62% against the spread.
• Despite his team’s struggles, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees is on pace to break the all-time record for passing yardage in a single season.