Jets owner says Tebow trade was all football

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Jets owner says Tebow trade was all football

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The bump the Jets will get from Tebowmania? An ancillary benefit, according to owner Woody Johnson.

Speaking at the NFL Owners Meeting Sunday at The Breakers, Johnson fielded questions about the most discussed trade for a soon-to-be-backup quarterback in NFL history.

"Lemme be really clear about this: We work for the fans and the fans want us to win games, so all of the decisions we make regarding the team are just for football," said Johnson.

Seemingly segueing to Tebow's popularity (Johnson has a meandering speaking style), the owner added, "It's hard to predict other things. If you get confused as to what your mission is, you're not gonna accomplish your mission. Our mission is to win games, pure and simple. We think Tim Tebow has been a winner all his life. If you look back to his high school career, maybe when he was a little kid, I don't know."

The Jets -- ever concerned about making sure Mark Sanchez is propped up -- have been careful about making it known Tebow is a backup.

"I think Tim Tebow will be a good addition to the team," said Johnson. "From a football standpoint he adds flexibility, versatility, he's a great athlete -- he's a big athlete. He can do a lot of things besides being quarterback -- besides being the backup quarterback.

Asked if he's concerned about how the sometimes jittery Sanchez responds to having a full-fledged cultural phenomenon ready to take over for him, Johnson pooh-poohed.

"I'm really not (concerned)," he said. "Being an NFL quarterback is among the toughest jobs you can have from a pressure standpoint. From an athletic standpoint, etc. Pressure is something Mark doesn't have a problem with. Either does Tim Tebow from what I gather, I don't know him very well. But Mark is very, very good. We've all seen in the fourth quarter. Wish he'd get better in the first quarter perhaps, but in the fourth quarter. . .

"He realizes he's got to make some improvements," Johnson added, referring to Sanchez. "And the reason we signed him to the extension that we did is that we have so much confidence in Mark and the body of work that he's given to us and the fans I think made it seem meritorious to us to extend him. So we did."

There's been a fair amount of eye-rolling already about Tebow holding a press conference Monday. Johnson pinned it on media interest and said the Jets were only trying to be accommodating to the media.

"It really was driven by you guys, not by us," he said, somewhat dubiously. "The press conference will be tomorrow and will be large but it's basically in response to the news media that wants to follow it. It's an interesting story I guess and they want to do that.
If you asked us to have a news conference for every one of our players, we'd probably do it."

And that, perhaps, is just another of the Jets' problems.

Blakely: Game 4 loss shows just how much Celtics miss Isaiah

Blakely: Game 4 loss shows just how much Celtics miss Isaiah

CLEVELAND --  Down the stretch in Game 4, the Celtics were desperate for someone, anyone, who could slow down Kyrie Irving.
 
But short of that, Boston could have used an offensive closer, too. You know, someone like Isaiah Thomas.

GAME 4: CAVS 112, CELTICS 99

 

The Celtics have relied on the two-time All-Star to carry much of the offensive burden this season, but he was almost always at his best in the fourth quarter.
 
A right hip injury knocked him out of this series after 1 1/2 games. Still, Boston managed to win Game 3 without him and, for large chunks of Tuesday night, seemed poised to beat the Cavs again on their home floor.
 
But as much as Game 4 was a reminder of just how special a talent Irving is (42 points, 21 in the third quarter when the game’s momentum swung in Cleveland's favor), it also provided a clue to the clueless who thought the Celtics were actually better without Isaiah Thomas.
 
Defensively?
 
Absolutely.
 
It’s no secret that teams go to great lengths to try and use his 5-foot-9 stature against him. And as we have seen, the deeper we get into the postseason the more trouble he and the Celtics seem to encounter from a defensive standpoint.
 
But just as we praise Irving for being such a special talent, Thomas has shown that he, too, has offensive gifts that, throughout this season, have left many fans, media and defenders befuddled as to how “the little fella” keeps coming up with one big play, one big shot after another.
 
But as we have learned, he has been dealing with a sore right hip injury for several weeks. The pain and discomfort eventually became too much to bear and so the Celtics did the right thing and shut him down.
 
Without him, the C's are still a good team that on any given night can knock off anyone, even the defending champs.
 
But as Game 4 reminded us, they need Thomas in order to be their best.
 
When Irving torched Boston’s entire defense with jumpers, ankle-breaking crossovers, Euro-step lay-ups and free throws, the Celtics had no one to turn to who could maybe, just maybe, go back at Irving at the other end of the floor.
 
That's what Thomas does that makes him such a special, unique talent in this league.
 
He can score in a variety of ways, with the best in the NBA.
 
We saw that this past season, when he led all players in the Eastern Conference in scoring with a 28.9 points-per-game average.
 
Boston’s excellent ball movement and high assist numbers are certainly important to the team’s success. But to make a deep and meaningful playoff run, you need one or two guys who can just go get buckets regardless of what the opponent does defensively.
 
That’s not Avery Bradley.
 
That’s not Al Horford.
 
That’s not Kelly Olynyk.
 
You can search, poke and prod this roster all you want, and you'll come up empty when it comes to finding a player like that . . . other than Isaiah Thomas.
 
The fact the Celtics were able to avoid getting swept is a victory of sorts in itself. Boston’s coaching staff, as well as the front office, has repeatedly said that as talented as their team is, they aren’t on the same level of the defending champion Cavaliers.
 
And yet here we are four games into this series and the Celtics are basically a bad half of basketball away from being tied, 2-2.
 
It says a lot about their mental toughness, their ability to handle and navigate past adversity to give themselves a chance to be competitive against any team -- including the Cavs.
 
But their success this season has always been about the collective group, regardless of how many late-game shots Isaiah Thomas knocks down.
 
And while he has his shortcomings defensively, not having him available is going to hurt them in those late-game moments when they need a closer. It’s not a coincidence the Celtics were just 2-4 when he didn’t play during the regular season.
 
So as cool as it was for them to win Game 3 without Thomas, he’s still the straw that stirs the Celtics emotionally, bringing them to levels few think they're capable of reaching.
 
They were able to get by for one night without him, but remember this: It took Marcus Smart having an Isaiah Thomas-like game of 27 points and seven made 3’s, for them to win.
 
No one did anything remotely close to that Tuesday night.
 
They looked like the Isaiah Thomas-less Celtics, which is a look they don’t need this time of year.
 
Because that look is so not about winning.